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Our Gang

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  1,316 ratings  ·  143 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 shows us a man 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 children in self

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Hardcover, 200 pages
Published January 1st 1971 by Random House Trade
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Average rating 3.39  · 
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Michael Finocchiaro
I read this book today and to be honest, it was terrifying. Yes, Tricky Dick is long in the grave (and apparently trying to usurp Satan if we believe Roth), but the scenario of the book is so close to the insanity of Drumpf that it made me want to scream. Whether it was the horrifying week in Washington with the ever-insistent attacks on democratic process even before taking office or his public speeches (or his fucking tweets), everything about Drumpf is present in Roth's Tricky B. Dixon in spa ...more
TK421
Dec 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
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
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Derek
I read this in one sitting, taking a six hour bus ride from Queen Elizabeth National Park to Kampala. I can never read for more than an hour or so, especially on buses - crying kids, no AC, loud lingala on the stereo, but not with this book. Read it right through, no hiccups.

Our Gang is quite the humourous satire of 1970s America. The President's called Trick E Dixon, Vice President's called Blurb, etc. It's not funny haha, but it keeps you giggling all through. The writing is typical Philip Ro
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Read By RodKelly
While there are some genuinely funny moments here, this book is mostly unsuccessful and out-dated. I appreciated reading it to track how Roth's writing continued to develop post-Portnoy, but, though the writing itself is stellar, the satire lacked any sort of contemporary bite. ...more
Lee Foust
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Amir Guberstein
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
This book has not stood the test of time
Dan Graser
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a a genuine laugh-out-loud work of relentless satire from Roth, targeting the machinations in the final days of the presidency of Trick E. Dixon. From his heartfelt notion of the sanctity of life for the unborn (but for no one living in southeast Asia), his solution to the protests against him by the Boy Scouts (imprison them, shoot them), his gripping "there's something rotten in the state of Denmark" speech before his - SPOILER ALERT - destruction of the "pro-pornography regime of Cope ...more
Brian Rankin
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crazy. Had not read any Philip Roth. My wife thoughtfully picked this up for real cheap at the local library retired book sale. An interesting interpretation of the Nixon WH including the real villian, Curt Flood and Denmark. Good satire and all the more relevant considerin current WH occupant.

Jim
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never read Gulliver’s Travels growing up but for many years I assumed it was merely a children’s book like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland not realising both were, in fact, satirical works, the former, a transparently anti-Whig satire whereas the latter lampooned the ordered, earnest world of Victorian England.
When George S. Kaufman proclaimed that “satire is what closes on Saturday night,” he was referring to its ephemeral quality: satire dates quickly. I would add that political satire date
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Paul Taylor
An amusing satire but rather overplayed. It could just as easily be written about the current Trump administration where obfuscation, manipulation, skulldugery and bare faced lying seem to be the order of the day.
Jim Leckband
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Christopher Saunders
One of Roth's odder concoctions, Our Gang is a rambling, sporadically funny attack on Richard Nixon and the politics of untruth, written in the early '70s before the worst of Nixon's misdeeds came to light. You'd think Nixon, a self-caricaturing blowhard if ever there was one, would be an easy mark for satire, but Roth seems out of his depth skewering "Trick E. Dixon's" prevarications and absurd mismanagement. He does, in fairness, have Nixon's bizarre diction and self-pitying bromides down pat, ...more
Aaron
Sep 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Drinkinwookie
Not the Roth I was expecting. It said on the jacket that it was "satire in the vein of Swift." But I thought.... Yeah but its Phillip Roth. I've read 10 books by this guy. It'll be lush prose, naturalistic plots and characters, y'know, Roth. The jacket was right. The writing was clever and someone who loves stylized satire might really love this. "The Breast" looks like it might be like this one, I haven't got to that yet. I'd say read some of his 90s/2000s stuff first.

PS I read this because Nix
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Jay
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
Christian Schwoerke
When this book came out, in 1971, I was 16, and I still hadn’t read Portnoy’s Complaint (1969). I was a precociously arrogant snot-nosed intellectual, and best sellers disqualified themselves from my consideration simply because they were popular. I had the proper disdain for Nixon at the time, and I recall seeing a review (probably New York Review of Books), which featured a banner illustration for the book in David Levine’s fine ink caricaturist style, with Nixon and his bunch made the size of ...more
Christopher Sutch
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aside from large portions of Roth's first novel, _Letting Go_, this fourth novel by Roth is by far the most enjoyable of his early writings. His sole aim was to satirize Richard Nixon, his administration and advisers (and, to a certain extent, the media), and he does so with nearly perfect pitch. He is especially ingenious with showing how hypocritical and cynical Nixon's motives and actions were, and in showing the logical flaws and loopholes that make up not just Nixon's ideology but that of c ...more
George
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An original, humorous, witty, political satire written in 1971. President Trick E Dixon answers questions from journalists, has a discussion with his advisors, (spiritual coach, political coach, legal coach,...) gives a lengthy address to the nation and then there's an event that is initially denied. The President wants unborn babies to have the right to vote. Three Scout demonstrators are shot dead by police and the President justifies the police's actions. Pro-pornography Copenhagen is invaded ...more
Alex Wexelman
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Written pre-Watergate scandal, Our Gang sees Philip Roth lampooning Richard Nixon and his administration. As Roth told The Atlantic in 1971, "Political satire isn't writing that lasts." The book, although amusing at times, is mostly schlocky SNL-like satire that makes ad-hominem attacks with no greater purpose than to employ cute caricatures. Writing for The New York Times, Dwight McDonald said, "One really feels for the President. The punishment seems excessive, considering his more serious cri ...more
Wilson
Jun 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our Gang is Philip Roth's very heavy-handed, but equally very funny satire about Richard Nixon. Trick E Dixon, as the novel would have it. Successor to Lyin' B. Johnson and John F Charisma. The novel is full of wordplay, ironic placement of policy (Calley and abortion provides the impetus for the book), and is told as a stage-play, more or less, being a book of dialogue. It is over-the-top, quivering with anger, and mostly works. You cannot help but think about Donald Trump when reading it, and ...more
Brad Mariano
Like any pure satire, occasionally loses power when it’s slightly too on-the-nose; but an effective exercise in the dangerous inanity of political speech which rings true in the Trump era. It’s a one-joke book which stretches too long and I get the feeling Roth had more fun writing it than I had reading it, but I took away some things (and despite the timelessness of its message, it also acts as an interesting time capsule as a pre-Wategate Nixon takedown).
Michael Carson
I finally completed this book. It was not a favorite Roth read. I really enjoyed the last chapter when Tricky Dixon (Nixon) attempted to overthrow Satan as the new Devil in hell. While this fictional novel is intentionally farcical, it’s amazing how none of it seems as ridiculous when read with an eye on our current political environment and leadership in the country.
Eric
Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Better than average bit of satire that savages Nixon and the times but which is also very prescient for current times. The fact is this: Nixon was just the most obvious example of the corrupt nature of politics. Anything after him is just a variation on a theme: which is why the satire here still shines.
Aaron White
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deeply, profoundly disturbing. Nothing short of the funniest piece of satire I have ever read. Roth was, perhaps, the greatest American novelist of all time, and this, a lesser work of his, is proof positive of that fact.
Brian Eyler
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not Roth’s finest work but maybe his funniest! This political satire transports the reader back to a few days in 1971 Nixon administration. Sweaty upper lip, Quaker roots, and a hatred for Boy Scouts color Trick E. Dixon’s response to an unfolding crisis he created.
Fred Daly
Published in 1971, this isn't really a novel; it's an over-the-top satire aimed at Richard Nixon. There's no point in reading it today, except to think about how much Roth's vicious portrait of Nixon would fit Donald Trump. ...more
James
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: satire, fiction
I read this book as it began to sink in that Nixon was going to win re-election no matter how strongly I as a 15 year old high school sophomore felt. It had me positively rolling with laughter.
Ellie
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-modern
rarely has there been a more accurate assessment of what government is capable of. Time to re-read this satire. You will find surprisingly similar events occurring in 2017.
Ana A
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5

Funny and interesting, but there were some tedious parts.
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Philip Milton Roth was 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 in ...more

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