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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

Critic Reviews

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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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    280
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    111
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    91

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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    259
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    120
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    30
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    33

Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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    352
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    185
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    72
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    48
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

The mind of a child

The narration was great and captured all the accents of New Jersey. The psychology of the breakdown of the American dream as seen through the eyes of an author trying to do a biography of his high school jock known as the Swede. On the surface he appears to have had the American Dream but when you explore his family and the life of his only daughter the truth is lost in the deranged actions and thoughts that plague his only child . The backdrop of the social issues of the 1949 to 1990 are explore in the examination of what made Mary become the radical she became. Enjoyed it but was somewhat slow at times. Good story.

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Ugh. What a disappointment!

It's very rare that I can't finish a book. However, this book was so awful I couldn't stand it for another second. I quit l

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Interminable and sexist

What disappointed you about American Pastoral?

It just went on and on and on. At first, I found Roth's handling of the loss of innocence and the death of the American dream moving, but after 70 neurotic chapters I simply couldn't take it any more.

Has American Pastoral turned you off from other books in this genre?

no

Which scene was your favorite?

The 1st chapter

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Frustration

Any additional comments?

Roth's depiction of women verged on sexist. They made me uncomfortable. But maybe that is what he wanted. It is a disturbing book and perhaps better read than listened too.

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Poor story

I can't figure out why this is so highly regarded. It was self-indulgent over written navel gazing. Well narrated though.

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Knockout performance by Silver

This is the kind of book that shows just how meaningful an audiobook can be. Silver's performance brings Roth's sometimes dense text, with its long, run-on sentences, into vibrant, ecstatic life. Just an extraordinary experience – I don't think I would've enjoyed the book as much had I read it.

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One of my favorite books and the best performance of all time

Ron Silver needs to be mentioned first. His narration is astounding. Phillip Roth writes for us the story of us and it is perfectly told. I love this book.

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Misunderstood from Morristown to Algeria

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is a complex, griping story and the performance is outstanding.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Everyone, even the minor characters have a depth that will keep them alive in my memory.

Any additional comments?

The theme of misunderstanding others is really powerful; I'm not sure I understood the book.

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A brilliant narration.

I only wish they had left out the music. But the reading is absolutely inspired.

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Boring Story

I could not finish this book. Storyline never took hold. Narration dull. I don't which was the most dull, the story or the narration. Don't waste your credit.

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Engaging and relevant

Would you listen to American Pastoral again? Why?

Yes - absolutely. Although it was written for those of us who were beginning adulthood in the 60's, it is relevant in today's world. Beautifully written. Like the review posted, it was my first Philip Roth book. I, too, was an English major so appreciate the excellent writing. Intricate and sensitive story telling.

What other book might you compare American Pastoral to and why?

The sensitivity of a modern day writer - Elizabeth Strout (Olive Kitteridge).

Have you listened to any of Ron Silver’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

NO - but I would listen to another by him.

Who was the most memorable character of American Pastoral and why?

The main character - Swede Levov - someone who seemed so perfect to the outside world, who tried to uphold a high standard of morality but who saw how that wasn't possible or appreciated or that it made much difference in the long run in our world today.

Any additional comments?

Must have an appreciation of good writing to truly appreciate this book.