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Our Gang: Starring Trick and His Friends

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  683 ratings  ·  66 reviews
A ferocious political satire in the great tradition, Our Gang is Philip Roth's brilliantly indignant response to the phenomenon of Richard M. Nixon.

In the character of Trick E. Dixon, Roth portrays an American president who outdoes the severest cynic, a peace-loving Quaker and believer in the sanctity of human life who doesn't have a problem with killing unarmed women and
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 3rd 1994 by Vintage (first published 1971)
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Okay, I've had some time to think about this book. I know political satires are a dime-a-dozen, but this one works.

Here are my thoughts:

Even though it was written almost 40 years ago, and about a president that was less than decorous, I think it still has much clout concerning politics and politicians today. (That's both side of the aisle for those wondering.) We've seen how inadequate our elected officials are and, worse, just how incompetent they can be.

I think that was the point of this nov
Lee Foust
Living in an era of the non scandal--whitewater to Benghazi--while the real scandals go unnoticed--how many hundreds of William Calleys have gone unseen, un-prosecuted, and ignored in Iraq or Afghanistan? How come Clinton's cigar-placement is a scandal but his sending bombers to devastate civilian populations in Europe in order to halt the genocide of other civilian populations is presented to us as a just and even leftist (once they were called doves--another endangered species) strategy? So, a ...more
Told entirely in dialogue (with a few instances of monologue), Philip Roth's 1971 Our Gang is a satirical take-down of Richard Nixon. The novel begins with Trick E. Dixon defending his contradictory "pro-life" position at the same time he aggressively waged the war in Vietnam. Roth immediately challenges Nixon's decision to intervene on behalf of the war criminal William Calley (My Lai massacre) by having an anonymous reporter suggest that one of the murdered Vietnamese women may have been pregn ...more
Jim Leckband
The first thought I had when I was going to read this book, was that it would be like watching someone shoot fish in a barrel. Sure, the guy can hit a lot of fish, but there ain't much going on in strategy or how it is going to end.

That is NOT how the book ended up. The book's main satirical target isn't Richard Nixon - rather it is a send-up of how language is used for political ends - and how masters of this utility (like Nixon or "Dixon" in the book) can get so far. The main thing that you se
It helps to know about (or remember) the administration of Richard M. Nixon to laugh out loud as I did while reading Roth's great satire, but it's not necessary. Our Gang certainly satirized Nixon (as well as Spiro Agnew, several Democrats, and a cadre of famous news reporters and commentators), but far beyond that, it satirizes cynical political opportunism that uses rhetoric that sounds reasonable to twist reason into unrecognized train-wreckage, no matter the time or place.

The book opens with
Our Gang is probably one of the two most underrated books in Roth’s bibliography. A fake play of political satire, it is also a window into the writing career Roth could have had. Now mostly a novelist, Roth started his career as a writer of short stories, nonfiction, and political satire (he was first noticed by “The New Republic” when he wrote a parody transcript of an Eisenhower press conference), and he continued to shadow his novels with this type of writing throughout the 60’s and 70’s. Mo ...more
Roth starts with something like a Firesign Theater political satire ("Man, you broke the president") and ratchets it up a few grade levels. This really felt like a Firesign Theater radio play, with the names used and the pacing. It's just a bit too long for their kind of audio, and a bit too repetitive. Roth did really get down the mannerisms, the verbiage, and maybe the thought processes behind Nixon, err Dixon. Very good for going down memory lane in a satirical way. I'm not so sure it works w ...more
Elliot Ratzman
How long does political satire hold up before it becomes stale? Reading Philip Roth’s 1971 spoof on (pre-Watergate, pre-Roe v Wade) Richard Nixon is a chore today, but I’m sure it was downright hilarious during the height of the 60s anti-war protests. Compared to the loathsome political discourse of today, Nixon’s policies, besides Vietnam etc., seem relatively moderate and liberal. Roth’s “Trick E. Dixon” is worried about his ratings, the Boy Scouts protesting his “pro-fornication” policies and ...more
Lori Summers
I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I knew it was Roth’s diatribe against Nixon, I knew it was satirical, I knew it was political. What I didn’t know was that it would turn out to be one of the most enjoyable of all my reads so far as part of The Roth Project. I didn’t know what a shift in tone it would be, how hilariously on-the-nose it would be, how intentionally ridiculous and how sharply written.

Roth concocts a scenario of a President, Tricky E. Dixon, who comes out in favor of the
Justin Evans
Meh- I was really looking forward to this, but it feels a bit throw away New Journalism. This isn't so much political satire as satire on one particular politician and the stupidities of modern media. As such, it's a great idea. And Roth is uncannily good at imitating the vocabulary of Nixon and the aforementioned stupid modern media. The trick is that he's almost too good at it: Portnoy's Complaint, it turns out, is pleasurable because the rants are in Roth's voice. When you get Roth's ability ...more
Michael Austin
Roth has written a number of brilliant political novels, such as Operation Shylock (1993) I Married a Communist (1998) and The Plot against America (2004). But none of them hit my funny bone like this gem of a book published during the first Nixon administration. Before the Watergate break- in even happened, Roth created a brilliant satire of Nixon’s essential duplicity.
This is not really a novel. It is more like six separate satiric shorts featuring the American President Tricky Dixon (who has
Mariano Hortal
"Nuestra pandilla" de Philip Roth es una sátira despiadada del gobierno de Richard Nixon y de toda su "pandilla" o políticos que estaban al lado de él en esa época. Y tiene para todos: el periodismo ( hay periodistas con nombres tan gráficos como lameculos, osado, cójame-en-contradicción, cacho-bruto), el FBI ("Es lo que decimos los del FBI: no me hagas preguntas y no te contaré mentiras"), el propio pureblo americano ("nunca he perdido mi fé en la maravillosa indiferencia en el pueblo norteamer ...more
May 18, 2008 Alan rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Thomases Pynchon and Robbins
Recommended to Alan by: the dollar rack
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This marvelous book chronicles the abuse of language. Readers familiar with Orwell's "Politics and the English Language," or with the liberal critique of Richard Nixon ("I don't think we can clearly nail Nixon as a liar," a Democrat congressional staffer once remarked, " although he undoubtedly is one in this instance, as in all others.") will laugh long and loud as "Tricky Dixon" employs every imaginable form of sly, slippery innuendo... against Boy Scouts, Denmark, and likely 1972 opponent"Ted ...more
Philip Roth must've quickly learned that his future was not in political satire. There were some passages in Our Gang that did make me chuckle, but there was more sighing and exhaustion at the farcical nature of this narrative that simply could not engage. Maybe not being a product of the times, not having lived through Watergate and the corruption eating away the core of the White House, I simply cannot connect with this novel. It's dated, purely topical and does not resonate to any higher mean ...more
Evyn Charles
I have loved pretty much everything from this writer so far (but not this book...)
It was written at the time of Richard Nixon's presidency and the main character is "Trick E. Dixon," an obvious caricature. References are also made to numerous real politicians--some using real names, and other famous figures using spoof names like John F. Charisma (a.k.a. John F. Kennedy). The book shows a demented Tricky devolving into greater and greater madness until the last chapter where he actually gives th
Covey Mcallister
The sarcasm was hilarious and fresh, but my favorite part was the insight into the political atmosphere during the Nixon regime. While you can read about the historical events and perspectives, you cannot feel the frustration, mistrust, hurt, sense of betrayal, loss of respect, annoyance, etc. without reading through a work like this.

However, the constant barrage of hate gets a little overwhelming after Nixon goes to hell.
Scathing political satire by Roth focused on the Nixon administration. Obviously Nixon's foibles are no where near as relevant as they were when this is written, but it is still worth a read. The book is funny and it's amazing to read how viciously Roth attacks the administration through this satirical novel. In a sense, it's a political education for those of us who missed this time period.
This book, Roth's relentlessly sly and nasty skewering of Richard Nixon, has probably been on my shelves for 25 years (I'm guessing I acquired it cheap at a used book sale sometime during my post-collegiate Roth-reading binge) but I only just got around to it, perhaps because it seemed so different from the early Roth novels I fell in love with long ago. And it is different, but my God it's hilarious -- probably second only to Catch-22 as a work of American satire. I hesitate to say too much els ...more
Michael Mingo
A lot of the satire in this book is dated, and doesn't seem particularly funny in the modern era. But Roth does a great job of setting up an absurd series of press conferences, Boy Scout protests and nuclear bombings that it's still a joy to read. And since this was written before Watergate, some of not-Nixon's dialogue is funnier in hindsight.
incipit mania

Signore, voglio congratularmi con lei per essersi espresso il 3 aprile in favore della santità della vita umana, inclusa la vita dei non ancora nati ....

Has to be one of the most powerful political satires ever penned! President Tricky. E.Dixon and his coterie depict a band of buffoons oblivious to the sentiments, state of affairs and scenarios unfurling outside their Ivory Towers
Golly. I bow to no one in my contempt for Tricky Dick, and I have no qualms about the lowest of blows against him, but I do require that satire be at least a little clever and/or funny and/or intellectually engaging. Roth must have tossed this off in a weekend--if Portnoy was largely about masturbation, this takes a further step: it is masturbation.

I read this in the second volume of the Library of American edition.
Rena Sherwood
Roth hates Nixon. That's fleshed out to about 200 pages.
With all the politics flying around lately, I'm a little surprised that I decided to read such a politics-focused book. Sadly, unlike most Roth I've read, Our Gang doesn't seem to have aged well. I get the references, but I get the feeling they would have resonated more around the time the novel was first published (while Nixon was still in office). At this point Nixon parodies have become so standard that, while I found the novel entertaining, I was entertained much the same as I am by Nixon's ...more
Gemma Williams
Hilarious satire written in the 70s and focusing on the presidency of Nixon. I'm sure I would have appreciated it more if I had a less hazy knowledge of the subject, but even as it was I was chortling throughout. The first section ( Tricky tackling the thorny question of whether the US soldier who killed 22 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai would have been in the wrong if one of the women was pregnant, because he would have assisted an abortion ) is just brilliant.
Our Gang is more like a dramatic work than a novel. It consists of transcripts of main characters speaking to one another. The book is a satire on the administration of Richard Nixon(significantly, it was written before the events of Watergate became known to the public).
Not what I would expect from Roth, but I still dug it.
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Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist. He gained early literary fame with the 1959 collection Goodbye, Columbus (winner of 1960's National Book Award), cemented it with his 1969 bestseller Portnoy's Complaint, and has continued to write critically-acclaimed works, many of which feature his fictional alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman. The Zuckerman novels began with The Ghost Writer in 1979, and inc ...more
More about Philip Roth...
American Pastoral (The American Trilogy #1) Portnoy's Complaint The Plot Against America The Human Stain (The American Trilogy, #3) Everyman

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