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The Plot Against America

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  24,692 Ratings  ·  1,862 Reviews
In an astonishing feat of 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 b
Paperback, 392 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Random House
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Jason Koivu
Some said Philip Roth is the new messiah of modern writers. Philip Roth is overrated, said others.

So I read a couple of Roth's books, Exit Ghost and Everyman. With only those to go on, to me, Roth seemed like your typical aging curmudgeon. Nothing special, just an old man venting through literature his disgruntled annoyance at no longer being able to get an erection. I was ready to call it quits on him, but felt like maybe I should try one more.

So I read The Plot Against America. Boy, am I glad
May 10, 2016 William1 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, us, 21-ce
Counter-factual historical fiction, in the manner of Robert Harris' Fatherland. In it, Charles Lindbergh, the anti-Semitic aviator and admirer of the Nazis, wins the U.S. presidency by campaigning against FDR on a platform of non-intervention in the European war. I think it especially poignant now given the political ascendancy of a certain demagogic New York "billionaire" known primarily for his bigotry and sexism.

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Though at times intricate and compelling, this is not Roth's best. It's a somew
Sep 08, 2007 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with a desire for a good yarn
I gave this book 4 stars. I probably would have given it 5 had it not gotten a bit weak towards the end and the author seemed to lose focus of where his story was going. It seemed like he wanted it to end whereas I wanted it to continue on.

First off let me say this book is NOT what most of these reviewers are calling it. It is far too complex to be thrown into a category of "what-if" histories. The first thing that came to mind when I read it was that is was a memoir. In fact it reminded me a l
May 29, 2010 Jace rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually do this, but I'm halfway through this book and I want to write a review of my progress so far. For a couple of reasons:
1. The thought has crossed my mind a couple times in the first 200 pages to put the book down. If I don't finish it, I'll probably never write a full review.
2. As I near the midsection of the book, it becomes clearer that things might be about to turn upside down. If so, by the time I finish it I probably will have erased from memory everything I'm thinking about
One star??!!!?? Really???!!! I gotta be kidding right? Either that or I’m on some kind of crazy drug trip.

Well, no. I really “did not like” this book. Hence, the single solitary star.

I hate it when mainstream novelists try their hand at science fiction. They usually muck it up. This is not too surprising given the disregard most of them have for science fiction in the first place. It’s even worse when the science-fiction novel in question is a thinly disguised political rant because the politi
Jason Pettus
Nov 10, 2008 Jason Pettus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

So after a month of election obsession here in Chicago, I find my schedule of book reviews in complete chaos: nearly 20 titles read now, all of them awaiting essays, and with me still continuing to read new books on a daily basis. I thought I'd start this week, then, with a whole series of recently r
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Coming soon...must first nurse hangover...having trouble with simple sentences at the moment...

Okay, here goes. This is going to be worded poorly because I killed a lot of braincells last night, but I need to get this out of my system.

I enjoyed this novel. I really, really did. To be more specific, I enjoyed it in the way you enjoy a movie-version of a book you've already read, or a cutesy little romance like The Princess Bride (no disrespect). I mean, you just KNOW where it's going. Describing
Jul 20, 2016 Reese rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I used to argue (in the 1960s) with Grandma Flo, who fiercely insisted that what has repeatedly happened in this world will certainly happen again; in this regard, America is not exceptional. According to Grandma, America -- despite its checks-and-balances system, despite its Bill of Rights -- would become a nation in which people will consume lies like cookies and embrace the "stuff of our nightmares." In my youth, Grandma Flo's predictions seemed preposterous. But with Donald Trump's ascent, a ...more
Jan 27, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: chabon fans and 1001 book readers
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Shelves: 1001-books
Ah Mr Roth, how you entertained and confounded me with this book. This book also served as a sort of stupidity graph for me, highlighting where my knowledge of early 20th century American History and Politics has a gaping hole.

Is it a hole in a sock sized hole? An oops, my-car-was-just- swallowed-up-by-this-big-hole sized hole? Or a Guatemala City sink hole sized hole? Well, the hole in my knowledge is probably about the size of the car swallowing hole which is still quite sizeable. I feel asha
Dec 26, 2014 Douglas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've decided that Philip Roth will be my Christmas present to myself each year. I've noticed that this wasn't the favorite of some Roth fans. I had no expectations from this book other than, like the blurbs suggested, to be horrified and disturbed by the alternate history and how plausible it was during WWII for Charles Lindbergh to become President of the U.S.

In this book, Roth shows what would've likely happened if a known Nazi sympathizer (Lindbergh) had become President during the reign of
Jun 19, 2008 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Plot Against America, Philip Roth lovingly re-creates the lost world of the Jewish community of mid-century Newark, the world of his own boyhood. Then he takes the main characters, modeled on himself, his friends and his family, and tortures them by forcing them to live through state-sponsored Nazism in America.

Roth imagines an America in which Charles Lindberg defeats FDR in1940 by pledging to keep the US out of WWII, then immediately signs non-aggression pacts with both Germany and Jap
Jun 03, 2016 Perry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.1. Will review soon.


Reality in the Making

Is there a more obsessively repeated question than “what if”? We ask it when we regret past actions, we ask it when we are frustrated by unexpected results, we ask it when we dream of changes. It is true, we rarely ask it to wonder whether things could have turned worse. Except for authors, of course, with their habit of diving straight into nightmares.

Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America is just this kind of a “what if” turned bad. Written in the style of non fiction n
Like others here, I often found this book to be a compelling read (though there were some unnecessary bits), but ultimately, I think Roth (do I need to warn about 'spoilers'?) presents us here with a more sophisticated version of the Dallas 'it was all a bad dream' solution, where all the events of an entirely plausible American support for Nazism in the Second World War -- intelligently illustrating how other countries might also have been seduced by fascism and anti-Semitism -- are nearly comp ...more
Sep 07, 2007 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This alternative history ponders what might have happened had pilot Charles Lindbergh run against and defeated Roosevelt in 1940. The Plot Against America is a wonderful and surprising read -- especially in its restraint. Roth's story provides insightful commentary on how American presidential campaigns are run, our media's role in them, how we choose our leaders, the bigotry behind assimilation efforts, and how corruption can and often will run its course. At the book's end, I was surprised to ...more
Philip Roth is one of "the" guys in American literature - Harold Bloom puts him together with Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo and Thomas Pynchon as the four American novelists he thinks are worth praise. Having read at least one work from each of these authors the hour came to try Roth, too; this one was available so I picked it up and read it.

Well, it turns out that The Plot Against America ain't all that it promises to be. iIn the novel it's 1940, and Roosevelt lost the election to Lindbergh, who
Jul 08, 2015 Bandit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love history and historical novels and yet alternative history genre has never really appealed to me. That is until I read (or listened to in this case) Roth's horrifying version of America during WWII. Wild genius premise of Charles Lindbergh as a Nazi sympathizing US president turning the life of Jewish families (one in particular) into an anti Semitic nightmare. As interesting as it was well written, this was a great story. Recommended.
Ron Charles
Dec 08, 2013 Ron Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Once again, Philip Roth has published a novel that you must read - now. It's not that an appreciation of his book depends on the political climate; our appreciation of the political climate depends on his book. During a bitterly contested election in a time of war against an amorphous enemy, "The Plot Against America" inspires exactly the kind of discussion we need.

With a seamless blend of autobiography, history, and speculation, Roth imagines that Charles Lindbergh ran against Franklin Roosevel
May 19, 2008 J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’d been a big fan of Philip Roth since stumbling across Portnoy’s Complaint in college. That book spoke hysterically of the torments of a desire conflicting with one’s upbringing and one’s own better sense. Roth captured so keenly the nature of an almost self-destructive pursuit and the complexities of repression, transference, and what Dostoevsky’s Underground Man referred to as “contrary to one’s own interests…that very ‘most advantageous advantage.’” The book was hilarious absurdity yet hear ...more
Jun 30, 2016 Conor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Roth is good, he is so very good. This book was sheer entertainment. Roth has such a marvelous imagination and knack for conjuring credible emotional and conversational dynamics. I think back to Herman's officiousness with Mr. Taylor, DC tour guide extraordinaire, and of Philip getting locked in the bathroom, and of Selden perseverating about his birthday party and the clarity of the long-distance line in the midst of the Louisville riots--everything is just so perfectly constructed and bel ...more
Joni Dee
Apr 11, 2016 Joni Dee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If there's only one thing you need to say about Philip Roth, then it has to be that he is absolutely brilliant. But.. if you have reached "the Plot against America" then you are no doubt familiar with Mr. Roth's work, and this statement is already a well-known fact to you.

"The Plot against America" takes the witty bits from "Portnoy's Complaint", and mixes it with the grim atmosphere of chaos that we encounter in "American Pastoral". the style is again autobiographical, only in "the Plot Against
Nov 20, 2008 Manny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Roth imagines a world where Lindbergh became President in 1940 and then proceded to collaborate with the Nazis. He says this has nothing to do with George Bush, but I found it impossible not think of parallels. Like all late Roth, very nicely written.
Jun 29, 2014 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-white-square
I thought this was fairly naff. We bounced between "my history of the Lindbergh Presidency for everyone who's never heard of the Lindbergh Presidency (which would be no one if there had been a Lindbergh Presidency, right?)" and an admittedly very cute "my Jewish To Kill a Mockingbird". It felt a bit amateur.

"...Lincoln in his capacious throne of thrones, the sculpted face looking to me like the most hallowed possible amalgamation - the face of God and the face of America all in one."

"one of thos
Mar 06, 2008 Sam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who are into alternate history
Note that I will discuss major plot points in this book, including the end. If you have any intention of reading the book, don't read below. I'll simply say that I was very disappointed.

I was very disappointed by this novel. Philip Roth does a good job of building the hopes of the reader that he will find a compelling and provocative conclusion to the events that begin with the election of Charles Lindbergh to the presidency. However, he fails to capitalize on them. As it turns out, things just
Dec 30, 2010 Meghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
I tried reading a Roth book about 10 years ago. I read chapter one and never got any further. The thought of picking up another Roth book ever again would mean I was under serious torture to do otherwise. And yet, this title caught my eye about 5 years ago. And the jacket synopsis lured me into thinking "hey, this is historical fiction, so maybe I'll like this one." And I was under the influence of the crack B&N puts in their lighting and bought the book.

But once out of the mind-altering aur
Katherine Coble
I read this years ago and remember enjoying it as an alt. history speculative fiction that examined Lindbergh in a less than flattering light. Given that most Lindbergh books are hagiographic in tone I appreciated the difference. Upon re reading it now I feel like it loses a star.

Why? It's the preachiest, most agenda-driven thing I've read all year. Apparently Philip Roth doesn't like Republicans. Seeing as how half this country agrees with him I guess it's a safe bet the preaching won't bother
Aug 01, 2007 Jojo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I do NOT life alternate history. It makes me confused about facts and usually just pisses me off. But this one is different. It's a "what if?" sort of book that feels very real. Probably because Roth inserts his own boyhood self into the narrative. It did make me hate Lindbergh, and I am not sure he deserves quite as much hate as I am feeling. I have to research that! (because the fake history has messed with my head)
Aug 29, 2008 Spike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like historical novels
Given the current political climate and global trouble spots, I thought this would be about some kind of Islamic jihad being carried out inside the United States. I was only off by an entire religion and sixty years or so: the theme and the 'plot' is antisemitism. The premise is a great one: what if Charles Lindbergh had become president, and staffed his administration with other alleged anti-Semites, such as Henry Ford, Burton K. Wheeler, etc? Roth lets us see these events play out through the ...more
Feb 18, 2008 Jesse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read probably 3 seconds after it came out. Roth takes a faintly possible fictional premise--Charles Lindbergh wins the 1940 Presidential election, then proceeds to implement suspiciously Hitleresque policies--and imbues it with relentless realism. It's an astonishing act of bravura...or chutzpah, if you prefer. This is what it would have felt like to suddenly realize that coded speech, political discrimination, the whole gamut up through pogroms, could happen here, to coin a phrase. Roth has alw ...more
3.5, maybe. Like Arthur Miller's The Crucible, this book may tell more about Roth's state of mind perhaps than any real or likely "history."

Great premise: pro-Nazi, anti-Semite Charles Lindbergh is elected President in 1940. What is the impact on a secular, urban Jewish family in New Jersey, as seen through the eyes of a seven-year-old (in 1940) protagonist?

But poorly developed and told. All sorts of logical gaps. Too complete knowledge. But worst, Philip as narrator tells us how the "history"
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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
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“--nor had I understood til then how the shameless vanity of utter fools can so strongly determine the fate of others” 38 likes
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