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American Pastoral | [Philip Roth]

American Pastoral

Philip Roth presents a vivid portrait of an innocent man being swept away by a current of conflict and violence in his own backyard - a story that is as much about loving America as it is hating it. Seymour "Swede" Levov, a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, and the prosperous heir of his father's Newark glove factory comes of age in thriving, triumphant postwar America. But everything he loves is lost when the country begins to run amok in the turbulent 1960s. Not even a most private, well-intentioned citizen, it seems, gets to sidestep the sweep of history. American Pastoral is the story of a fortunate American's rise and fall ... a strong, confident man, a master of social equilibrium, overwhelmed by the forces of social disorder. For the Swede is not allowed to stay forever blissful living out life in rural Old Rimrock in his 170 year-old stone farmhouse with his pretty wife (his college sweetheart and Miss New Jersey of 1949) and his lively albeit precocious daughter, the apple of his eye ... that is until she grows up to become a revolutionary terrorist.
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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 1998

Philip Roth presents a vivid portrait of an innocent man being swept away by a current of conflict and violence in his own backyard - a story that is as much about loving America as it is hating it. Seymour "Swede" Levov, a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, and the prosperous heir of his father's Newark glove factory comes of age in thriving, triumphant postwar America. But everything he loves is lost when the country begins to run amok in the turbulent 1960s. Not even a most private, well-intentioned citizen, it seems, gets to sidestep the sweep of history. American Pastoral is the story of a fortunate American's rise and fall ... a strong, confident man, a master of social equilibrium, overwhelmed by the forces of social disorder. For the Swede is not allowed to stay forever blissful living out life in rural Old Rimrock in his 170 year-old stone farmhouse with his pretty wife (his college sweetheart and Miss New Jersey of 1949) and his lively albeit precocious daughter, the apple of his eye ... that is until she grows up to become a revolutionary terrorist.

©1997 Philip Roth (P)1997 by Dove Audio, (P) 2014 by Phoenix Books

What the Critics Say

Audie Award Winner, Best Solo Narration by a Male, 1998

"One of Roth's most powerful novels ever...moving, generous and ambitious...a fiercely affecting work of art." (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

"Dazzling...a wrenching, compassionate, intelligent novel...gorgeous." (Boston Globe)

"At once expansive and painstakingly detailed.... The pages of American Pastoral crackle with the electricity and zest of a first-rate mind at work." (San Francisco Chronicle)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1030 )
5 star
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Overall
4.1 (449 )
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Story
4.4 (456 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    minwage 12-09-09
    minwage 12-09-09 Listener Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "Not as enjoyable as i would have thought"

    I am relatively new to the audiobook world, took some advice from Steven Kings "must read" list and took a chance with this book. The last two recommendations of his were right on target. Since this was #1 on his list i was anticipating some good things from this book. As i read most of the audible reviews for this book (most praising the job of the narrator more than the book) i can definitely agree that Ron Silver does do an amazing job. Getting past that, as far as the book, i found it fragmented and at times boring. The reflections which helped drive the emotional plot at times roamed into useless topics that drove me nuts, no kidding, about 2 hours of this book was devoted to leather glove making! At times im agonizing over his life and family hoping for more and then it would break off into a 30 minute story about Morristown. I guess that is what is meant by pastoral, a very descriptive collection of memories that lead where ever it wants to go, no driving story line or plot. For me, it sounded like a lot of complaining about the world which i can hear from my father without paying for it. I felt like i had sat down with some older Jewish gentlmen at a nursing home and gave each 30 minutes to tell me any story of your past and then stuck them all together in a book. 2 stars for the book, 1 for the narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Boston, MA, United States 11-17-09
    Jim Boston, MA, United States 11-17-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    146
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    31
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    4
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    Overall
    "interesting psychological study"

    Don't listen to this book if you want a narrative story. This is a true pastoral: a painted portrait of a broken American family. Roth spends huge amounts of time in the mind of the Swede. A brutally beautiful book masterfully performed by Ron Silver.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Blackheath, Australia 07-15-09
    Chris Blackheath, Australia 07-15-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    55
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    59
    18
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    "5 Stars"

    A profound and tragic history of the collapse of a family and a society in the 60's and 70's. Magnificently and beautifully read by the late Ron Silver. This one will keep me thinking for a long time and, I suggest, should not be missed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Silicon Valley Girl 07-13-09 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    104
    11
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    Overall
    "Such a sad story"

    This was my first Philip Roth book. It was slow at first and there were parts that I would have skimmed had I been reading, but it ended up being an excellent and sad story.

    Swede Lavove, someone we all knew in high-school. Mr All American athlete. The one who marries the most beautiful woman and owns a successful business. The man we envied.

    As the story unfolds we learn about his inner anguish and personal demons. We see the sham that ends up being his life.

    An event in his life that forces him to go deep into his soul in order to find some way to make sense of something that cannot be explained.

    Swede's life was not a happy one. Philip Roth gives us insights into his soul turning us into voyeurs as we listen.

    In the meantime, people around him (and even he) prattle on and on about things that are of no consequence such as the intricacies of making gloves or his father's feelings toward Swede, a jew, marrying a Catholic.

    This is the most real and raw book I believe I've ever read. It will stay with me for a very long time.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward Palmer, AK, USA 04-20-09
    Edward Palmer, AK, USA 04-20-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    15
    1
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    0
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    "Not appropriate for audiblekids"

    It's a fine audio book, but why is it in audiblekids? Is your kid over 17? Then I would let him or her get this audiobook. Not appropriate , I think!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul R Hoffman Baton Rouge, LA, United States 10-14-08
    Paul R Hoffman Baton Rouge, LA, United States 10-14-08 Member Since 2013

    Maryann1951

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "Get to the point please"

    I prefer a book with more plot and less details with regard to character development.

    0 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Danny New York, NY, United States 11-24-04
    Danny New York, NY, United States 11-24-04 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
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    5
    3
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    Overall
    "Rather dull"

    the first hour or two of this book is dedicated to the philosophic meanderings of the narator of an old man, the book takes a sudden turn into the actual story, but it takes a long time to actually understand much about the main character even though the author is heavy handed with the philosophical underpinings. Several of the characters seem like shallow caracitures. The narrator shows a lot of vocal variety, but by the end it gets a little weary. not sure it was worth the 15 hour investment.

    3 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Estil College Corner, OH, USA 10-09-04
    Estil College Corner, OH, USA 10-09-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    1
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    "A sequel, please, Mr. Roth."

    From the rambling beginning (it starts at the end and then catches up, mostly) to the rather disappointing close, this is a great story, made even more enjoyable by the masterful narrative of Ron Silver. There are a great many questions left unresolved. How did Merry die? Who is Rita Cohen, really? Please, Mr. Roth, I need to know the answers.

    This is a great listen that leaves you wanting more.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mari San Diego, CA, USA 12-15-06
    Mari San Diego, CA, USA 12-15-06 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "drones on and on......"

    I could not wait to finish this book. I felt it was way too full of rants and repitition. I can see that the story would be interesting to people, but there was way too much 'droning' and too little of what was interesting and compelling about the story and characters. I thought the narration was very good, however!

    4 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brandon Mount Juliet, Tunisia 05-28-08
    Brandon Mount Juliet, Tunisia 05-28-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    44
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "Great story, but terrible audio production."

    This is a great story, but there were random noise artifacts and each segment was introduced with, "Brought to you by Audible Kids": I seriously doubt that a book with a copious amount of the f-word was produced "by kids, for kids." It's ridiculous that I used my credit on this.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful

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