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The Plot Against America

by Philip Roth

To say this latest work of fiction by American author Philip Roth is a gripping and chilling read would be a vast understatement. Portrayed as an 'alternative history' the novel is set in 1940s America, Charles Lindbergh wins the presidential election defeating Roosevelt and what results is the breakdown of American society and values into the beginnings of an anti-Semitic fascist state. The novel is told through the eyes of Philip, a young Jewish boy living with his parents and older brother in Newark. We make the journey from 'normal' everyday life to chaos with Philip and his family, as attitudes towards Jews in Lindbergh's USA dissolve into racism and violence. Through Roth's immense skill as a writer, the reader becomes part of Philip's family and everyday life, he has a wonderful sense of humour and I laughed, winced and cried at times as I travelled with Philip on his journey into adulthood. Philip begins the story as a young boy, but by the end of the novel, he has experienced more pain and fear in several months than many would in a whole lifetime.

I found this novel nearly impossible to put down for many reasons and it would make a brilliant read for a journey the journey would undoubtedly fly by!. This novel is haunted with 'what if' possibilities throughout, this evokes a constant feeling of underlying menace and fear, we know that danger for a nation and its ethnic minorities is just around the corner, we feel its presence as if it is staring us in the face. We know it is vastly wrong and evil but there is nothing as readers we can do. I had to keep reading just to make sure what I feared most could happen, didn't!
This is one of Roth's greatest skills as an author, not only is he extremely intelligent and perceptive but emotive enough to involve you as a reader in the events of the drama. It is as if through Philip, you endure the same sickening events and madness as he, and just like Philip you can help but call out 'No, No, No!'

'The Plot Against America' truly reflects both the sheer brilliance and the baseness of human nature. Roth, through fiction has shown what we already know humans are capable of, he leads you to a point where you believe there is no positive way forward and then shows that there is always a choice, that either makes us or breaks us.

Suggested by Tom, Harrogate

Tagged with: chilling disturbing



This is the only book by Philip Roth I have read so far, but I enjoyed it immensely. It shows, with often horrifying clarity, how world events affect the everyday lives of common people.

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