Mark Barnes's Reviews > The Plot Against America
The Plot Against America
by Philip Roth
by Philip Roth
Mark Barnes's review
Nov 08, 2011
An enjoyable read as Roth theorises what might have happened had America kept out of WW2, and elected a Fascist sympathiser in place of Roosevelt. I find it difficult to understand the "it couldn't have happened here" comments that so often accompany this book. Those who believe that clearly have understood neither history, nor men's hearts. The US treatment of Japanese during the period described shows how those perceived as enemies were in fact treated, and Roth's description of the persecution of the Jews does not exceed that directed at the Japanese. All that would be required to encourage such persecution would be the belief by some in authority (not even a majority) that the Jews were a threat. Clearly that is not beyond the realm of possibility. It is true that the final chapters do stretch credulity - but more because Roth tries to 'undo' the plot to make it fit into modern America. For me, at least, the narrative would be even more powerful if the threads had been left to unravel. Other than that, you do feel as though Roth was really there, and the events he describes are true. This is one of the few modern works of fiction that has an accessible depth. Whether you agree the plot is credible or not, you are forced into thinking about what would stop it 'happening here'. That alone makes the book well worthwhile.
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