Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Review: The Plot Against America

The Plot Against America by Phillip Roth is a What If? historical novel. The idea is that, instead of FDR, anti-semitic Charles Lindbergh gets elected President in 1940, after running on a strong isolationist platform. It is a good yarn, as well-written as any of Roth's novels.

Politically, the book is particularly interesting because, while the Republicans are the anti-Semitic bad guys and the heroes are the liberal Jewish family of the charming 9-year old narrator (little Phillip Roth), Roth's clear message is that it is wrong for America to turn its back on evil, especially if that evil will then infiltrate America. It seems that the lesson Roth tries to get across is that liberals can be hawks -- and should be to protect the American way of life.

That lesson may come across more clearly in the audio book narrated by Ron Silver. Silver described himself as a “9-11 Democrat” and is a robust hawk in the war on terror.

The Plot Against America is very entertaining, as much for the central story as for the side stories about being a young, Jewish kid in Newark in the 1940s. Worth reading. Or, better yet, listening to, because Silver does an incredible job.


Ross Douthat
Books 'N Border Collies

If you would like your review of this or any other Philip Roth book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.


  1. I also thought he did a great job narrating.

    I felt Roth called out both sides, liberal and conservative. And I mean that in a good way. One can be a member of either/any party and love and care what happens to America. Great book!


  2. Yes, you are absolutely right. Roth made the book more interesting by not following stereotypes to the letter.

  3. Okay, I gotta say that sounds really good & Roth's another one I keep picking up & going, "I should read this ..." So many books, so little time!

  4. That sounds really interesting...too bad I can't read fiction books anymore!

    Also...was anyone else super surprised to find out Lindbergh was a terrible person? I just always assumed he was a hero until I read (and reviewed) a book about him at my site.

    Last thing...do you consider audio books cheating at all?!?

  5. Hi Adam!

    I always thought Lindburgh was a hero, but I have picked up that he had Nazi sympathies. Of course, so did a lot of Brits and Americans early on, because of family ties to Germany, dislike of Communism, or other benign reasons. The problem is whether and when they dropped those sympathies.

    I haven't read the Lindburgh biography that is sitting on my shelf, but I am interested to learn more about him.

    As for your last question -- NO! NO! NO! Audiobooks are not "cheating"! At least, not unabridged audiobooks (and I don;t know if they even make the abridged kind anymore). I can get on a soapbox about this issue.

  6. Rose City Reader ~ They do make abridged audiobooks. A lot of them, much to my annoyance. I agree with you. Unabridged audio is not cheating. It's just a different way of experiencing a book. I get different things out of reading and listening. If I had all the time I wanted to read, I would still do both!



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