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The Plot Against America
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May 2017: 2004 > The Plot Against America by Philip Roth -- 3.5 stars

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Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
3.5 stars (round up to 4)

I finally finished my 2004 book for May!! A week late but I am totally counting it.

Roth imagines an alternate 1940 election where Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh is elected president over FDR. President Lindbergh vows to keep America out of WW2, but to do so, he passively condones Hitler's actions and makes international accords to not intervene. The Roth family, Jewish and living in Newark sees this as fascism coming to America. The Roths, along with their Jewish friends, watch as the situation slowly worsens. Told from the POV of 9-year-old Philip, hysteria slowly mounts, information and misinformation abounds, and the nation is on the brink of a cultural war before the Author Roth brings the story back to reality with FDR' return to the presidency and entering WW2.

I have mixed feelings about this book. First, I really liked the story. It was chilling to see how confusion and misinformation led to a fracturing of the American people, including Jews, between those who believed that Lindbergh was a fascist and Jews were heading to the same fate and European Jews and those who believed that Lindbergh was anything but an antisemite and was working to better the lives of all Americans. Each new event or restriction on freedoms seemed insignificant on its own, but added up to tell a different story to Jews.

Y'all, it was eerie. It was not only an eerie description of what our history could have been, but it was an eerie foretelling of current events with Muslims substituted in for Jews. The press was muffled, liberties were restricted in the name of safety, and violence was righteous.

But, I didn't really like Roth's writing. (I think that may be blasphemous so please do not hurl objects at me!). I found his writing hard to follow and it meandered around a lot. Descriptions seemed to be needlessly long (I am specifically thinking of when Mrs. Roth and Philip call Seldon in Kentucky and he mentions no less than a dozen times that he is eating Fig Newtons with milk. We get it, the boy is scattered and it is a sign of his larger mental state, but it was overkill). Mr. Roth and Sandy fought about the same thing over and over, and it was redundant.

I also thought the ending felt rushed, and I ended up confused. I liked that Roth brought the story back to actual events with FDR, Pearl Harbor, and WW2, but he offered two conflicting conspiracy theories at the end as to (view spoiler)

I am really glad I read this book, and really glad that I read it now given the current political climate. But, it has not inspired me to read more by Roth.


Regina Lindsey | 1005 comments I still haven't written my review. But, I completely agree. I thought he did a good job on the alternative history aspect, which I don't always enjoy. But, like you, I just didn't like his writing. I never really connected with the characters. It was just meh for me.


message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8846 comments Regina! I have been wondering where the heck you've been!


message 4: by Olivermagnus (new)

 Olivermagnus (lynda214) | 2223 comments I read this a long time ago and thought it was just okay. I just read Fatherland by Robert Harris which I enjoyed more.


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Regina wrote: "I still haven't written my review. But, I completely agree. I thought he did a good job on the alternative history aspect, which I don't always enjoy. But, like you, I just didn't like his writing...."

I completely agree, Regina; I can't think of a single character that I really liked or connected to. I actually think the closest I came was Mrs. Roth. I thought her 1940's role of ruler of the house, supporter of her husband, and the one who went and got a job outside the home when the family needed it to be most interesting.

Also, question for those who read it: Did I miss something with the Roths' tour guide in D.C.? Was he really just a down-on-his luck history teacher or was he something more nefarious?


Regina Lindsey | 1005 comments Nicole R wrote: "Regina wrote: "I still haven't written my review. But, I completely agree. I thought he did a good job on the alternative history aspect, which I don't always enjoy. But, like you, I just didn't li..."ou

If you missed it so did I!


Regina Lindsey | 1005 comments Amy wrote: "Regina! I have been wondering where the heck you've been!"

I'm teaching a class this summer and I've been spending a lot of time prepping for it. As if my life wasn't busy enough......


Nicole D. | 1490 comments yeah, that was weird about the tour guide, probably more Roth blather


Kristel (kristelh) | 699 comments This was my first Roth book and while I liked the idea of the story, I didn't like the writing. I have read more Roth since and like some more than others. American Pastoral and Nemesis being my favorites.


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