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The Plot Against America

Written by: Philip Roth
Narrated by: Ron Silver
Length: 13 hrs and 23 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (16 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In an astonishing feat of empathy and 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 boy growing up in Newark, Lindbergh's election is the first in a series of ruptures that threaten to destroy his small, safe corner of America - and with it his mother, his father, and his older brother.

©2004 Philip Roth (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great reading

Ron Silver is perfect as the voice of one of Roth's most compelling novels--a book that seems all too prescient nowadays.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kaui
  • 2017-05-09

What if FDR hadn't been re-elected?

Any additional comments?

Philip Roth is one of my favorite authors. Interested in the human condition, the Jewish-American condition, and the male condition, his books each offer a unique exploration into a compelling topic with universal themes.

The genius about this book in particular is how Roth examines the issue of America "selling out" to Hitler from many plausible yet conflicting viewpoints. From the indignant father to the quietly prideful mother, to the damaged orphan nephew to the lonely aunt to the ever curious boy, anti-semitic events are presented, described, experienced and analyzed with clearly developed voices that reach out from the 1940's to touch our hearts today, in the age of Internet-based news and every changing political grounds.

I found this book to be very rewarding, both from a literary and a plot standpoint. The story arc progresses steadily until the last 15% of the book, where the pace increases to frenetic, confrontation leaps out on every page, and conflicting viewpoints are resolved.

I highly recommend! And the narrator is pitch perfect with his accent. Bravo!!

12 people found this helpful

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  • R. Kravitz
  • 2017-02-01

Extraordinary

This is a masterpiece, ranging from grand history to the intimacies of family life, from the most dire circumstance to the outrageously funny, as in the best Shakespearean history plays.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-02-04

Scarily realistic

The author really made me care for the characters in this book. I'm not a history buff, but this book really made me appreciate what Jews may have been thinking during the real historu of WW2.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew
  • 2016-08-04

Life is imitating Roth's art

A country with bitter internal divisions faces a world dissolving into savage war, and a man with no political experience but a high national profile marches into the White House. His radical policies begin to transform the country in frightening ways. It was written ten years ago but reads like a thinly-disguised version of America in the summer of 2016.
And the narration is pitch-perfect.

35 people found this helpful

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  • Bette J. Piacente
  • 2017-02-02

Almost too much in the current climate

Roth evokes the atmosphere of fear being used to manipulate Americans into hatred and loathing their neighbors. At times it was all I could do to continue listening, not because of any failure of the author's, but because it was all too plausible!

The part where Roth's younger self it not telling the story tended to have less power to me. I understand he is trying to explain how fascism could happen in America, but that part of the seemed to be a little too precious and unbelievable.

However, the tale as told from the child's eyes is frightening and very believable. I especially appreciated the situations showing how there are no Right options in stressful times, no matter you will be left with regrets beyond measure.

20 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-05-17

Very intriguing Alternate Historical Fiction

Great choice in narrator really set the scene in this WWII historical fiction about what would have happened if an anti-Semitic, nationalist president had been in office before and during the war. The book was mostly told from the perspective of a young pre-teen middle class jewish boy witnessing an ever increasingly anti-Semitic America. The author well characterizes his both rational and irrational fears, worries, concerns and understanding of the world. Well done.

I loved the scene where his mother comforts and assists a young boy who is scared and alone, and how her motherly love shines through so caringly and touchingly in the writing.

Near the end there were frequently more moments in the writing where the story moved from young Phillip's voice to perhaps and older version of Phillip who tells more historical information and occurrences that wrapped up the story rather quickly. This felt a bit odd, if not somewhat rushed. I wish we could have seen more of that ending through Phillip's eyes.

Great read. Interesting parallels between the election in the book to our recent 2016 election, especially the America First rhetoric employed by both the fictional president and our new president.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Merlin
  • 2017-03-11

Great premise-fine novel

Reading this right after the election of Trump gave the book the power of apparent prescience. It's classic Roth, which means that the portrait of working class Jewish life in Newark is superbly portrayed. The premise of the novel--the election of Lindbergh to the presidency in 1940 makes for a gripping story. But I felt that the book promised more than it ultimately delivered. The last part of the story seemed rather rushed, and a bit unsatisfying. For all that, it's a fine novel.

6 people found this helpful

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  • W Perry Hall
  • 2017-01-20

"The Pompous SOB knows everything...."


“The pompous [SOB] knows everything. It's too bad he doesn't know anything else.”

"--nor had I understood til then how the shameless vanity of utter fools can so strongly determine the fate of others”

“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.”

Philip Roth, The Plot Against America


Philip Roth's convincing tale of an alternate U.S. history has been made all the more plausible by recent events. I mean, look again at these quotes. In this 1940 America, the heroic Charles Lindbergh, known as an isolationist and admirer of Hitler in his early years, is elected U.S. President in a landslide over FDR by voters fearful of becoming involved in another European war. The U.S. does not get involved in WWII and the election unleashes a swelling tide of anti-Semitism resulting, ultimately, in assignments of Jewish citizens to certain areas designated by the U.S. government's new Office of American Absorption.

Roth impressively paints this tense fictional world in the Newark, New Jersey in which he himself was raised. He narrates through his early teen, fictional self providing an absorbing read made more captivating by recent Russian interference with the U.S. Presidential election and is even more timely and chilling on this inaugural eve.

26 people found this helpful

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  • Amy
  • 2017-02-17

Frighteningly familiar

This is the first Philip Roth book I've ever read- and to no one's surprise , he's brilliant, gifted, what everyone says. In the early era of Trump, this book is eerily familiar: a shock that he's elected, surrounded by white supremacists, influenced by fascists and killers from other governments. I hope we have a different ending.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Lisa
  • 2019-08-28

A Conversation Rather than a Novel

The Plot Against America is an alternate history autobiography, told in the easy, conversational style of a first person narrator talking about the rise of anti-Semitism after Lindbergh became president, and the effect this had on his childhood, his family, and the country. Which means that this story is told, not shown. The narrator tells his audience that rioting happened here or there, or that someone was murdered. If Roth had taken the time to show what happened in scenes rather than report it, this novel would have been a more powerful and gripping story. Overall the novel was well written and the alternate history convincing. No obvious narrative arc, other than that things were ok, start getting bad when LIndberg became president, then got worse. Ends with the typical lack of resolution favored by literary writers. This novel, published in 2004, is eerily relevant to today, given the bigotry of our current president and the rise of anti-Semitism (and hate crimes in general) happening around the country.

1 person found this helpful