The Plot Against America by Philip Roth...a review

[2004]

Imagine the fate of the United States had we elected a Nazi sympathizer as our president during Hitler's rise to power. Imagine if that person was already an American hero. Think what that could mean for our America. Imagining this course of events is exactly what Philip Roth did. The Plot Against America is a "what if" fiction that morphs factual events, people, and places from Roth's own childhood with a fictitious series of events. 

Charles Lindbergh, renowned for his contribution to the world of aviation is deemed a hero by many after he made the first transatlantic flight in 1927, departing out of New York and landing in Paris. In 1932, his first born infant son was abducted and later found dead. Lindbergh and his wife left the U.S. for Europe at this time. It is popular theory that while in Europe, Lindbergh made the acquaintance of some influential Nazi officers and was himself an anti-semite along with Henry Ford. 

It is at this point in history that Roth interjects his version of "what if". The Plot Against America portrays Lindbergh as a quiet supporter of the Nazi belief system, and more implicitly details his "understanding" of their need to rid themselves of their Jewish "problem". In fact, Lindbergh's character goes so far as to make a deal with Hitler agreeing to keep the United States out of the war. 

The Roth family with Philip as the youngest son, are integral members of their closely bonded Jewish neighborhood and community who have all lived cohesively for many years. As Hitler progresses in reaching his goals, the United States falls into step following his lead. We follow the Roth family through the changes that occur. 

Philip Roth (the author) has an incredibly quirky style of writing. His conversations between two characters often take place in one flowing paragraph, and his sentences, at times, seem to go on for whole portions of a page. And often those lengthy sentences don't finish a full thought. I guess I am a pretty basic reader because it often forced me to reread multiple sections.

However, I do enjoy when a book incites my interest beyond the read. I researched Charles Lindbergh a bit to delineate fact from fiction. Did you know that while Lindbergh was walking around a hero, he was also living a "quadruple" life. Yes, not double, but quadruple. He had three other wives in Germany and an additional seven children that he managed to keep quiet until one of his other children made the discovery. Sheesh! And people have issues with Sister Wives. At least the polygamist wives  go into their marriage knowing that their husband is going to have multiple wives.

Overall an interesting, but at times, slow and long-winded read.

Comments

  1. If you liked alternative history, I recommend reading Harry Turtledove. 'Agent of Byzantium' is a good introduction to his early writing with the Byzantine Empire. His 'Crosstime Traffic' series are great for teens. Finally, 'Pastwatch' by Orson Scott Card is amazing (if a bit more sci-fi-ey)

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  2. I actually covered Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game with the freshmen my first two years in Yelm! I enjoy some good sci-fi-ey types of books.

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