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The Plot Against America

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  45,111 ratings  ·  3,971 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
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Paperback, First Vintage International Edition (US/CAN), 391 pages
Published September 27th 2005 by Vintage International (first published October 5th 2004)
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Michael Finocchiaro
Breathtaking and highly realistic, The Plot Against America is Philip Roth's vision of an alternative path history could have taken had Charles Lindbergh have not kept his anti-Semitism as a private matter, but (like Mr Trump) brought it into the political arena. In it, Roth features himself as the 6-8 year old narrator seeing the events from a Jewish kid's eyes in Newark. The scenario is Interesting, but what Roth does best is describe the terror and uncertainty of the days during this fictive ...more
Will Byrnes
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Israel didn’t exist yet, six million European Jews hadn’t yet ceased to exist, and the local relevance of distant Palestine (under British mandate since the 1918 dissolution by the victorious Allies of the last far-flung provinces of the defunct Ottoman Empire) was a mystery to me…I pledged allegiance to the flag of our homeland every morning at school. I sang of its marvels with my classmates at assembly programs. I eagerly observed its national holidays, and without giving second thought t
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WILLIAM2
Mar 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us, 21-ce, fiction
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 the novel has special resonance now that a certain demagogic New York "billionaire," known primarily for his nattering narcissism and pathological lying, is licking his mid-term wounds in the Oval Office.

Though at times intricat
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Lori
May 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An alternative blip in history, it melds a terrifying possibility with the timeline of WWII. It’s worth reading and, I liked it. The ending made me think of the sound a phonograph needle would make if you drug it to the right track.
Perry
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: credshelf
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Richard Derus
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
2020 UPDATE The first trailer is out. The miniseries is arriving 16 March.

HBO orders six episodes in November 2018, after almost a year of negotiations.

Damnably timely today, 27 October 2018, after the Tree of Life shooting.

This book should be as high on your TBR as 1984, Animal Farm, Snowball's Chance, and Christian Nation are already. I hope they are, anyway.

2018 UPDATE The book is going to be a miniseries! Huzzah. Now go read the article, because Philip Roth does a 45 takedown that made me gu
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Joe Valdez
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My preparedness for the regime change taking place in the United States--with elements of the Electoral College, the Kremlin and the FBI helping to install a failed business promoter who the majority of American voters did not support in the election--ends with The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, an elaborately woven and eerily prognostic alternate history. Published in 2004, the Pulitzer Prize winner supposes that aviator, dinner party anti-Semite and Nazi Party favorite Charles A. Lindber ...more
Lisa
"And how long will the American people stand for this treachery perpetrated by their elected president? How long will Americans remain asleep while their cherished Constitution is torn to shreds?"

Not a big fan of alternative history at all, even though thought experiments like Harris' Fatherland create an atmosphere of chilling excitement, I was skeptical when I started on this bestseller. Being a big fan of Roth in general, I was suspicious of both the genre he had chosen and the success it ha
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David Schaafsma
Since a new (and very good) Netflix series based on this book is out just now.

“Anything can happen to anyone, but it usually doesn't. Except when it does.”—Philip Roth, The Plot Against America

The Plot Against America is a must read for our times. A tour de force (and also sort of tour de [dark] farce) that is at turns funny and scary and moving, it is an alternate history novel exploring “what if” isolationist and anti-Semitic aviation hero Charles Lindberg had actually defeated FDR in 1940, r
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Julie ( On semi-hiatus until September)
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth is a 2004 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publication.

It goes without saying that Pulitzer prize winner, Phillip Roth, is a prolific writer. While I have appreciated the books of his I have read, they are often very heavy, and I can only take them in small doses. But, I don’t know if I would have tried this one, if it had not been for Professor Snyder recommending it, in his book, ‘On Tyranny’.

I was a little concerned about the ‘alternate’ history format, beca
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David Schaafsma
My One 4th of July, Apple Pie, Patriotic, Love America and Truly Make Sure it doesn't get flushed down the fascist toilet book for 2019:

“Anything can happen to anyone, but it usually doesn't. Except when it does.”—Philip Roth, The Plot Against America

The Plot Against America is a must read for our times. A tour de force (and also sort of tour de [dark] farce) that is at turns funny and scary and moving, it is an alternate history novel exploring “what if” isolationist and anti-Semitic aviation
...more
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
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Jace
Jul 29, 2007 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
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Pedro
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Between the beginning of 2012 and the end of 2014 I lived “three steps away” from a book shop. I don’t think I need to say how often I could be seen in there. I knew all the books on the shelves by heart. I became friends with the booksellers and I even helped them helping customers. At some point I was even offered a job which sadly I had to decline (life’s so cruel sometimes).

That was also the time I discovered Philip Roth. I first read American Pastoral, then I Married A Communist followed b
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Ron Charles
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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Whitaker
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
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Gabrielle
I have loved every Philip Roth novel I’ve read so far: he has a way of punching me in the guts with his words, of creating such vividly real characters and putting me right in their shoes… I hesitated picking this one up because current events echo the story a little too much for my taste, but I was morbidly curious to see how Roth had imagined a fascist America. That being said, I wish I had read it a couple of years ago, because reading “The Plot Against America” right now makes it impossible ...more
Mary
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
How can this be happening in America? How can people like these be in charge of our country? If I didn't see it with my own eyes, I'd think I was having a hallucination.

There's a plot afoot all right, and I'll gladly name the forces propelling it - hysteria, ignorance, malice, stupidity, hatred, and fear. What a repugnant spectacle our country has become! Falsehood, cruelty, and madness everywhere, and brute force in the wings waiting to finish us off.
Brian
Aug 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
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Roman Clodia
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"There's a plot afoot all right, and I'll gladly name the forces propelling it - hysteria, ignorance, malice, stupidity, hatred, and fear. What a repugnant spectacle our country has become! Falsehood, cruelty and madness everywhere"

Could this book be any more eerily topical? And not just in the US ('America First') but here in the UK where Brexit-madness has split the country, has brought a horrific latent xenophobic and small-minded 'Little England' isolationist agenda back into public life
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Blaine
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear.

I finally picked up The Plot Against America because I wanted to read it before watching the new HBO series. I had never read anything by Philip Roth, though I’d of course heard things about his books and writing style.

The comparisons between this novel and the current political environment are so obvious as to be barely worth mentioning, though I must say, not only could you just substitute the word Trump for Lindbergh for whole sections of t
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Joyce
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Even though this alternate version of American history, written in 2003, is fiction, it eerily mirrors our situation of 2017, down to a foreign government having a say in who is America's president. What was not fiction, however, was what Philip Roth wrote in the postscript to his book. There I learned where the term "America First" came from: "...America First Committee founded at Yale Law School to oppose FDR's policies and promote American isolationism", I also learned how right wing Lindberg ...more
Matt
A racist in the White House? Really? A demagogue turning America into a fascist nation? Come on! That’s a little too far fetched, don’t you think?

I admit I didn’t know much about Charles Lindbergh except for his flight across the Atlantic, his anti-Semitic attitudes, his three-fold “polygamy”, and the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby. What I didn’t know, for instance, was the fact that he was also spokesperson of the first America First Movement and about the public speeches he he
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Reese
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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." To a twelve-year-old who had never lived under a sky darkened by the ashes of Jews, Grandma F ...more
Manny
Nov 20, 2008 rated it really liked it

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.
Mike
When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.
This was a difficult book to read. Not because the writing was poor or obtuse, but because the subject matter was so sensitive. It also didn't help that there are more than a few unsettling parallels between the events in this book and what is currently unfolding on the American political landscape.

So the premise of the book is pretty straight forward: Charles Lindbergh, notorious racist/anti-Semite, Nazi sympa
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Jason Pettus
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. 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
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Bettie
Description: When the renowned aviation hero and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh defeated Franklin Roosevelt by a landslide in the 1940 presidential election, fear invaded every Jewish household in America.

Opening: FEAR PRESIDES over these memories, a perpetual fear. Of course no childhood is without its terrors, yet I wonder if I would have been a less frightened boy if Lindbergh hadn't been president or if I hadn't been the offspring of Jews.

When the first shock came in June 1940 - the
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Betsy Robinson
Sep 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Published in 2004, this novel is an invented history of America: Nazi-sympathizer and renowned pilot Charles Lindbergh is elected President of the United States. He espouses isolationism, but has made agreements with Hitler’s supporters to stay out of the war and simultaneously relocate and assimilate Jews in America through something called the Office of American Absorption. The program is so well-orchestrated that it is espoused as a wonderful thing by many Jews, but in the “Jewish ghetto” of ...more
Edward
Plausibility is a difficult thing to assess when taking about alternative history - after all, those events did in fact, not happen, and are therefore in a manner of speaking, impossible. But in general, Roth prods history with a very light touch, building on real people and events, and working within the constraints of the American political system, its vulnerability to the caprice of shifting public opinion, as well its checks and balances, which afford the system its capacity to correct itsel ...more
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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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“--nor had I understood til then how the shameless vanity of utter fools can so strongly determine the fate of others” 74 likes
“And as Lindbergh's election couldn't have made clearer to me, the unfolding of the unforeseen was everything. Turned wrong way round, the relentless unforeseen was what we schoolchildren studied as "History," harmless history, where everything unexpected in its own time is chronicled on the page as inevitable. The terror of the unforeseen is what the science of history hides, turning a disaster into an epic.” 29 likes
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