The Plot Against America

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The Plot Against America

by Philip Roth

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | September 27, 2005 | Trade Paperback

The Plot Against America is rated 4.25 out of 5 by 4.
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.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 416 pages, 8.01 × 5.16 × 0.87 in

Published: September 27, 2005

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1400079497

ISBN - 13: 9781400079490

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perpetual fear I loved this novel. I voraciously read it in a few short days and it is a powerhouse. The genre "historical fiction" is thrown around quite a bit and imposed on a lot of works; but Roth's novel is a true work of historical fiction that has the power to make anyone irate—at something that didn't even happen. This book is definitely one of Roth's darker novels. There is a frenzy of paranoia and perpetual fear that follows (the fictional character) Philip Roth and his family in Jewish Newark, New Jersey. The last 100 pages of this novel have an apocalyptic overtone that emanates from its pages which I absolutely loved. A great book on paranoia and the potentially virulent things that can come from government control. If anything this book will make you question institutions and their effect on the lives of citizens.
Date published: 2010-12-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from An interesting 'What If...' The author makes a great attempt at rewriting American history. He is so convincing that it is a little confusing at time. Still makes for a great read!
Date published: 2008-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Could it really have happened? Philip Roth's The Plot Against America is tightly composed, reading much like an autobiography. The events seem so real, one must remember that they didn't really happen. The reader is left wondering whether, given different social, religious and cultural conditions, such a scenario could have happened in the past or frighteningly could possibly happen in the future. I myself was born and raised in N. J. so I particularly related to the setting, remembering many of the sites from my childhood. Regardless, anyone interested in history and/or political events should find this novel compelling.
Date published: 2004-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I absolutely loved it This is one of the best books I have read all year. The entire book is completely captivating and very well written. Roth's character development is great, as is his storyline. I was thoroughly impressed with this novel and would highly recommend it. Also a great gift idea.
Date published: 2004-11-02

– More About This Product –

The Plot Against America

by Philip Roth

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 416 pages, 8.01 × 5.16 × 0.87 in

Published: September 27, 2005

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1400079497

ISBN - 13: 9781400079490

Read from the Book

1 June 1940–October 1940 Vote for Lindbergh or Vote for War 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 Lindbergh hadn''t been president or if I hadn''t been the offspring of Jews. When the first shock came in June of 1940--the nomination for the presidency of Charles A. Lindbergh, America''s international aviation hero, by the Republican Convention at Philadelphia--my father was thirty-nine, an insurance agent with a grade school education, earning a little under fifty dollars a week, enough for the basic bills to be paid on time but for little more. My mother--who''d wanted to go to teachers'' college but couldn''t because of the expense, who''d lived at home working as an office secretary after finishing high school, who''d kept us from feeling poor during the worst of the Depression by budgeting the earnings my father turned over to her each Friday as efficiently as she ran the household--was thirty-six. My brother, Sandy, a seventh-grader with a prodigy''s talent for drawing, was twelve, and I, a third-grader a term ahead of himself--and an embryonic stamp collector inspired like millions of kids by the country''s foremost philatelist, President Roosevelt--was seven. We lived in the second-floor flat of a small two-and-a-half-family house on a tree-lined street of frame wooden houses with red-brick stoops, each stoop topped with a gable roof and fronte
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From the Publisher

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.

About the Author

In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction. He has twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 2005 The Plot Against America received the Society of American Historians’ Prize for “the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003-2004.” Recently Roth received PEN’s two most prestigious awards: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award and in 2007 the PEN/Bellow Award for achievement in American fiction. Roth is the only living American novelist to have his work published in a comprehensive, definitive edition by the Library of America. In 2011 he received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and was later named the fourth recipient of the Man Booker International Prize.

Editorial Reviews

“A terrific political novel. . . . Sinister, vivid, dreamlike . . . creepily plausible. . . . You turn the pages, astonished and frightened.” — The New York Times Book Review “Huge, inflammatory, painfully moving. . . . Far and away the most outward-looking, expansive . . . book Roth has written.” –The Washington Post Book World “Roth’s most powerfrul book to date. Confounding and illuminating, enraging and discomfiting, imaginative and utterly–terrifyingly–believable.” -- San Francisco Chronicle “Once again, Philip Roth has published a novel that you must read– now . . . . A stunning work.” –The Christian Science Monitor “It’s not a prophecy; it’s a nightmare, and it becomes more nightmarish–and also funnier and more bizarre–as is goes along. . . . [A] sinuous and brilliant book, with its extreme sweetness, its black pain, and its low, ceaseless cackle.” – The New Yorker “Ambitious and chilling. . . a breath-taking leap of imagination. . . . The writing is brilliant.” –USA Today “Intimately observed characters in situations fraught with society’s deepest, most bitter tensions. . . . Too ingeniously excruciating to put down.” – Newsweek “Never has [Roth’s voice] been more nuanced . . . beautifully particularized. . . . [A] novelist who for 45 years has been continuously reinventing himself, ne
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Bookclub Guide

US

1. In what ways does The Plot Against America differ from conventional historical fiction? What effects does Roth achieve by blending personal history, historical fact, and an alternative history?

2. The novel begins “Fear presides over these memories, a perpetual fear” [p. 1]. With this sentence Roth establishes that his story is being told from an adult point of view by an adult narrator who is remembering what befell his family, over sixty years earlier, when he was a boy between the ages of seven and nine. Why else does Roth open the novel this way? What role does fear play throughout the book?

3. How plausible is the alternative history that Roth imagines? How would the world be different if America had not entered the war, or entered it on the side of Germany?

4. When the Roth family plans to go to Washington, young Philip wants to take his stamp collection with him because he fears that, since he did not remove the ten-cent Lindbergh stamp, “a malignant transformation would occur in my absence, causing my unguarded Washingtons to turn into Hitlers, and swastikas to be imprinted on my National Parks” [p. 57]. What does this passage suggest about how the Lindbergh election has affected the boy? Where else does this kind of magical thinking occur in the novel?

5. Herman Roth asserts, “History is everything that happens everywhere. Even here in Newark. Even here on Summit Avenue. Even what happens in this house to an ordinary man—that’ll be history too someday” [p. 180]. How does this conception of history differ from traditional definitions? In what ways does the novel support this claim? How is the history of the Roth family relevant to the history of America?

6. After Mrs. Wishnow is murdered, young Philip thinks, “And now she was inside a casket, and I was the one who put her there” [p. 336]. Is he to some degree responsible for her death? How did his desire to save his own family endanger hers?

7. Observing his mother’s anguished confusion, Philip discovers that “one could do nothing right without also doing something wrong” [p. 340]. Where in the novel does the attempt to do something right also result in doing something wrong? What is Roth suggesting here about the moral complexities of actions and their consequences?

8. When Herman Roth is explaining the deals Hitler has made with Lindbergh, Roth comments, “The pressure of what was happening was accelerating everyone’s education, my own included” [p. 101]. What is Philip learning? In what ways is history robbing him of a normal childhood? Why does he want to run away?

9. What motivates Rabbi Bengelsdorf, Aunt Evelyn, and Sandy to embrace Lindbergh and dismiss Herman Roth’s fears as paranoia? Are they right to do so? In what ways do their personal aspirations affect their perceptions of what is happening?

10. In what ways are Bess and Herman Roth heroic? How do they respond to the crises that befall them? How are they able to hold their family together?

11. Roth observes that violence, when it’s in a house, is heartbreaking: “like seeing the clothes in a tree after an explosion. You may be prepared to see death but not the clothes in a tree” [p. 296]. What causes Herman Roth and Alvin to fight each other so viciously? What is it that brings the violence swirling around them off the streets and into the house? Why is violence in a home so much more disturbing than on the street or the battlefield?

12. Much is at stake in The Plot Against America—the fate of America’s Jews, the larger fate of Europe and indeed of Western civilization, but also how America will define itself. What does the novel suggest about what it means to be an American, and to be a Jewish American? How are the Roths a thoroughly American family?

13. What does the postscript, particularly “A True Chronology of the Major Figures,” add to the novel?

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