In an astonishing feat of empathy and narrative invention, our most ambitious novelist imagines an alternate version of American history.
In 1940 Charles A. Lindbergh, heroic aviator and rabid isolationist, is elected president. Shortly thereafter, he negotiates a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler while the new government embarks on a program of folksy anti-Semitism. For one boy growing up in Newark, Lindbergh's election is the first in a series of ruptures that threaten to destroy his small, safe corner of America - and with it his mother, his father, and his older brother.
©2004 Philip Roth (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
The author really made me care for the characters in this book. I'm not a history buff, but this book really made me appreciate what Jews may have been thinking during the real historu of WW2.
This is a masterpiece, ranging from grand history to the intimacies of family life, from the most dire circumstance to the outrageously funny, as in the best Shakespearean history plays.
A country with bitter internal divisions faces a world dissolving into savage war, and a man with no political experience but a high national profile marches into the White House. His radical policies begin to transform the country in frightening ways. It was written ten years ago but reads like a thinly-disguised version of America in the summer of 2016.
And the narration is pitch-perfect.
The Greatest Generation reimagined as rubes...A celebrity pacifist President preaches America First while Hitler & Tojo run wild over the globe...New Jersey never sells out...
Roth evokes the atmosphere of fear being used to manipulate Americans into hatred and loathing their neighbors. At times it was all I could do to continue listening, not because of any failure of the author's, but because it was all too plausible!
The part where Roth's younger self it not telling the story tended to have less power to me. I understand he is trying to explain how fascism could happen in America, but that part of the seemed to be a little too precious and unbelievable.
However, the tale as told from the child's eyes is frightening and very believable. I especially appreciated the situations showing how there are no Right options in stressful times, no matter you will be left with regrets beyond measure.
"There is scarcely any passion without struggle." Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
“The pompous [SOB] knows everything. It's too bad he doesn't know anything else.”
"--nor had I understood til then how the shameless vanity of utter fools can so strongly determine the fate of others”
“How can people like these be in charge of our country? If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I’d think I was having a hallucination.”
Philip Roth, The Plot Against America
Philip Roth's convincing tale of an alternate U.S. history has been made all the more plausible by recent events. I mean, look again at these quotes. In this 1940 America, the heroic Charles Lindbergh, known as an isolationist and admirer of Hitler in his early years, is elected U.S. President in a landslide over FDR by voters fearful of becoming involved in another European war. The U.S. does not get involved in WWII and the election unleashes a swelling tide of anti-Semitism resulting, ultimately, in assignments of Jewish citizens to certain areas designated by the U.S. government's new Office of American Absorption.
Roth impressively paints this tense fictional world in the Newark, New Jersey in which he himself was raised. He narrates through his early teen, fictional self providing an absorbing read made more captivating by recent Russian interference with the U.S. Presidential election and is even more timely and chilling on this inaugural eve.
Reading this right after the election of Trump gave the book the power of apparent prescience. It's classic Roth, which means that the portrait of working class Jewish life in Newark is superbly portrayed. The premise of the novel--the election of Lindbergh to the presidency in 1940 makes for a gripping story. But I felt that the book promised more than it ultimately delivered. The last part of the story seemed rather rushed, and a bit unsatisfying. For all that, it's a fine novel.
Given the sharp turn to the right in American politics, this book lends an insightful and chilling look at how populism, nefarious foreign regimes and public fear can take hold of a nation, its people and government. This story is in the same realm as Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here. The somewhat plausible story is told through the eyes of a young jewish boy, philip. convincingly read by Ron Silver. The ending felt somewhat disjointed, thus my 3 star rating. Overall though, I'm really glad to have listened to this book.
This is the first Philip Roth book I've ever read- and to no one's surprise , he's brilliant, gifted, what everyone says. In the early era of Trump, this book is eerily familiar: a shock that he's elected, surrounded by white supremacists, influenced by fascists and killers from other governments. I hope we have a different ending.
Recommended by a radio personality last weekend. It is an eye opener though the story takes place in a different time. Well worth the time to listen and contemplate. Mark Twain said something like this: " ...history may not repeat itself - but it rhymes...".
Let's hope not.
Excellently told story and so very moving in our present situation
The gradual unwinding of the plot and the hideously possible nature of the crimes committed.
The reading brings in accent and flourish which I could only guess at as a Brit.
I could not listen to this in one. I had to keep coming back and savouring the building horror.
Just a fantastic bit of guesswork. Who does control Trump after all?
"Narrator's voice ruins a good book"
The narrator's accent is really heavy and overall tone way too intense, as though every moment is the climax. Ruins the experience of an otherwise promising book, I persevered but quit after an hour.
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