Has anyone read "The Plot Against America" by Philip Roth

Discussion in 'Community' started by lordmac, Jan 23, 2005.

  1. lordmac macrumors regular

    Feb 15, 2004
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Has anyone here read this book, because if you have a short synopsis would help me a great deal. This is because I had to read this book for a class and, its really not my kind of book. So to make a long story short I could only get through about a quarter of it and it would help me a great deal if someone could write a short synopsis for me to read that i could use as a sort of reference guide as i skim through the remaining part of the book.

    Thanks again, your fellow mac user in need. :)
  2. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    You want other people to do your homework?

    Doesn't sound much like Portnoy's Complaint...


    Publisher Comments:
    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. Not only had Lindbergh, in a nationwide radio address, publicly blamed the Jews for selfishly pushing America toward a pointless war with Nazi Germany, but upon taking office as the thirty-third president of the United States, he negotiated a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler, whose conquest of Europe and virulent anti-Semitic policies he appeared to accept without difficulty. What then followed in America is the historical setting for this startling new book by Pulitzer Prize–winner Philip Roth, who recounts what it was like for his Newark family — and for a million such families all over the country — during the menacing years of the Lindbergh presidency, when American citizens who happened to be Jews had every reason to expect the worst.

    "During his long career, Roth has shown himself a master at creating fictional doppelgängers. In this stunning novel, he creates a mesmerizing alternate world as well, in which Charles A. Lindbergh defeats FDR in the 1940 presidential election, and Philip, his parents and his brother weather the storm in Newark, N.J. Incorporating Lindbergh's actual radio address in which he accused the British and the Jews of trying to force America into a foreign war, Roth builds an eerily logical narrative that shows how isolationists in and out of government, emboldened by Lindbergh's blatant anti-Semitism (he invites von Rippentrop to the White House, etc.), enact new laws and create an atmosphere of religious hatred that culminates in nationwide pogroms. Historical figures such as Walter Winchell, Fiorello La Guardia and Henry Ford inhabit this chillingly plausible fiction, which is as suspenseful as the best thrillers and illustrates how easily people can be persuaded by self-interest to abandon morality. The novel is, in addition, a moving family drama, in which Philip's fiercely ethical father, Herman, finds himself unable to protect his loved ones, and a family schism develops between those who understand the eventual outcome of Lindbergh's policies and those who are co-opted into abetting their own potential destruction. Many episodes are touching and hilarious: young Philip experiences the usual fears and misapprehensions of a pre-adolescent; locks himself into a neighbor's bathroom; gets into dangerous mischief with a friend; watches his cousin masturbating with no comprehension of the act. In the balance of personal, domestic and national events, the novel is one of Roth's most deft creations, and if the lollapalooza of an ending is bizarre with its revisionist theory about the motives behind Lindbergh's anti-Semitism, it's the subtext about what can happen when government limits religious liberties in the name of the national interest that gives the novel moral authority. Roth's writing has never been so direct and accessible while retaining its stylistic precision and acute insights into human foibles and follies. Forecast: With its intriguing premise and thriller-tense plot, it's likely that this novel will broaden Roth's readership while instigating provocative debate." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)


    The Plot Against America centers around the idea of Charles Lindbergh running for President in 1940 against FDR, barnstorming around the country in the Spirit of St. Louis, and promising the keep America out of the war. Once he's elected in a landslide, he negotiates with the Axis powers to let them have Europe if they leave the U.S. alone, and then he turns to making America a more homogenous place. He has urban Jews forcefully moved to rural areas of the South and Midwest in an attempt to banish their culture and absorb them into the American mainstream. The story is told through the eyes of Phil Roth, a young Jewish boy in Newark whose older brother idolizes Lindbergh and whose father thinks he's a tyrant. The fracturing of Roth's family mirrors the same happening in the country and the rest of the world


    "What if" scenarios are often suspect. They are sometimes thinly veiled tales of the gospel according to the author, taking on the claustrophobic air of a personal fantasia that can't be shared. Such is not the case with Philip Roth'stour de force, The Plot Against America. It is a credible, fully-realized picture of what could happen anywhere, at any time, if the right people and circumstances come together.

    The Plot Against America explores awholly imagined thesis and sees it through to the end: Charles A. Lindbergh defeats FDR for the Presidency in 1940. Lindbergh, the "Lone Eagle," captured the country's imagination by his solo Atlantic crossing in 1927 in the monoplane,Spirit of St. Louis, then had the country's sympathy upon the kidnapping and murder of his young son. He was a true American hero: brave, modest, handsome, a patriot. According to some reliable sources, he was also a rabidisolationist, Nazi sympathizer, and a crypto-fascist. It is these latter attributes of Lindbergh that inform the novel.

    The story is framed in Roth's own family history: the family flat in Weequahic, the neighbors, his parents, Bessand Herman, his brother, Sandy and seven-year-old Philip. Jewishness is always the scrim through which Roth examines American contemporary culture. His detractors say that he sees persecution everywhere, that he is vigilant in "Keepingfaith with the certainty of Jewish travail"; his less severe critics might cavil about his portrayal of Jewish mothers and his sexual obsession, but generally give him good marks, and his fans read every word he writes and heap honorsupon him. This novel will engage and satisfy every camp.

    "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 Lindberghhadn't been president or if I hadn't been the offspring of Jews." This is the opening paragraph of the book, which sets the stage and tone for all that follows. Fear is palpable throughout; fear of things both real and imagined. Acentral event of the novel is the relocation effort made through the Office of American Absorption, a government program whereby Jews would be placed, family by family, across the nation, thereby breaking up theirneighborhoods--ghettos--and removing them from each other and from any kind of ethnic solidarity. The impact this edict has on Philip and all around him is horrific and life-changing. Throughout the novel, Roth interweaves historicalnames such as Walter Winchell, who tries to run against Lindbergh. The twist at the end is more than surprising--it is positively ingenious.
  3. lordmac thread starter macrumors regular

    Feb 15, 2004
    Santa Cruz, CA
    YAY, wow really fast

    thanks blue velvet , for the quickest reply i have ever gotten, I literally made that thread 2 minutes ago. And yes who doesn't like having other people do there homework for them. :D
    I feel disappointed in my self to because you found what i need so quickly on the internet. I must have spent an half an hour trying to fined something that wasn't just a review on the web. ;)

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