Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Plot Against America

The Plot Against America. Philip Roth. 2004. 391 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: 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.  

Premise/plot: What if Charles Lindbergh had been elected the President of the United States of America in 1940 instead of FDR? What if America had never joined the Allied Forces and entered the war? What if we were in fact allied--through peace treaties-- with Germany and Japan? What compromises would such peace treaties call for?

The Plot Against America is a FICTIONAL memoir of Philip Roth that imagines such a time. The book chronicles the non-war years of 1940 through 1942. Philip witnesses the adults in his life respond differently to the politics of the day. His father is angry, worried, afraid, outspoken. But his aunt and her soon-to-be-husband get all comfy-cozy with the new President and his wife even dining at the White House. His cousin runs away to Canada and joins the army though so he can fight Hitler. And that's just a few...

The book examines the potential destructiveness of ideas and philosophies...

My thoughts: I found this a mostly compelling read. I would have finished it sooner if the chapters had been shorter. In fact that's probably my biggest complaint against the book. The chapters are so long that it's impossible, in my opinion, to read more than one a day. Perhaps this is intentional. There's no rushing through this one so that the book has more time to resonate with you. And resonate it does.

The book itself is premise-driven. But oh what a premise it has! It had me soon thinking of other what ifs I'd love to have explored in fiction.

I do try to read mainly clean books--books free from profanity and blasphemy. This one has both. But the premise was so strong and my curiosity to know where Roth was going with this one so high that I made an exception. Perhaps with the politics involved it would be impossible to tell this one without such language.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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