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BookBrowse Reviews The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

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The Plot Against America

by Philip Roth

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth X
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2004, 400 pages

    Paperback:
    Sep 2005, 400 pages

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'This magnificent novel is both appropriate to today's headlines and timeless'

Good alternate fiction has the effect of waking one from complacency, because it shows us how the lives that we live (and on the whole take for granted) are a result of an endless series of events through history; and if any single one of these events had been different the world we live in would be different.  The logical extrapolation from this is that if such a small change in the past could have such radical consequences, what of the endless decisions made daily by governments and individuals today - what path are they leading us down, and is it the best path?  

The Plot Against America is just such a book.  Aviation hero, and vocal Aryan supremacist, Charles Lindbergh defeats Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election on a peace-with-Hitler platform, because the majority of voters fear that FDR plans to bring the US into the war in Europe.  Emboldened by Lindberg's win, America spirals down into fascism as isolationists in and out of government across the country enact new laws and create an atmosphere of hate that results in nationwide pogroms paralleling events in Europe. 

Publishers Weekly says, 'in the balance of personal, domestic and national events, The Plot Against America is one of Roth's most deft creations....direct and accessible while retaining its stylistic precision and acute insights into human foibles and follies'.  Booklist gives it a 'starred review' and Library Journal highly recommends it.  Lastly, Kirkus Reviews writes, 'the story gathers breakneck velocity and intensity, ending perhaps too abruptly (and, perhaps, pointing the way to a sequel). But hilarious and terrifying by turns, it's a sumptuous interweaving of narrative, characterization, speculation, and argument that joins The Ghost Writer (1979) and Operation Shylock (1993) at the summit of Roth's achievement. An almost unbelievably rich book, and another likely major prizewinner'.

This review first ran in the September 14, 2005 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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