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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.

What listeners say about The Plot Against America

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The Plot Against America

I'm a huge fan of alternative history novels. I had no idea that this was an alternative history novel. TBH, I wasn't even sure it was a novel. I thought it might have been a documentary type non-fiction book (remember, I'm the book muse that prefers to go into a book blindly and avoid reading blurbs).

Bottom line, I'm thrilled I finally picked this up to read. Sure, I've read countless WWII novels...even a couple of alternative history WWII novels. Two things that strike me...first, this is the first one that was told through the eyes of a child. This brings me to the second thing....as I read this, it was like watching a playbook from today's headlines with only a few details changed. These two things tied together...well they absolutely gutted me.

I think we all read these history books and so often...well, the kids are there...we know they suffer. We know it's a catastrophe...however, I think we just look at the overall picture...or we just lump that suffering in with the overall suffering. This book really hit home for me about the individual suffering a child deals with in times like this. Yes, the alternative history for *this* young person could have been much worse, but the fact remains that sometimes the pressure the young feel at times when nothing can be done...and when things happen that are no fault of their own or any fault of the adults directly responsible for their lives...well...the impact is long lasting and devastating. Sure I can always fall back on the old perseverance that comes from times of difficulty, that bad times as well as good times help shape the future leaders and people that change the world be it through movement, laws, art, or anything else you can think of....but sometimes I wonder if those future achievements are ever worth the price of what some people have to go though.

This book was hard to read in so many different ways...partly because I see so much of it going on today...partly because so many lives are ruined by people that have no business being in control...partly because it was so unfair in so many different ways....but mostly because I was shown all of this from the eyes of a child who was unable to do anything to change any of it...how many kids suffer in silence?

The worst thing we can do is to allow these things to happen again...but also, we really need to stop grouping all the wrong doings in the world in these great numbers and ignore the personal aspect of it all. Every hate crime victim, every child abused, every gun victim, ever person ever killed at war, every mother killed in a riot, every customer refused service based on a facet of their identity...they aren't just a statistic...they are someone...someone that takes that treatment home with them (those that live) and oftentimes those someones are children...or they have children that watch those treatments...

Yep...this book gutted me in so many ways..

7 people found this helpful

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An imagined story that describes recent history

At a time when antisemitism is returning to the surface it is amazing to read of the undercurrent that Roth had so clearly identified in America. The election of Lindberg is chilling in the light of recent elections in the US and storming of Congress, once again tremendous ability on Roth's part to anticipate what could go terribly wrong

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Not enough happens, great concept, poorly executed

I found the book just lumbered it's way to conclusion with very little happening until the final two chapters. When it did get interesting the story jumped around in terms of timeline. Great concept just poorly executed.

2 people found this helpful

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great alternate history tale

this was a great piece of story telling that was well written and well narrated. it gripped me ftom start to finish and has encouraged me to research the characters portrayed.

1 person found this helpful

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Faultless

Don’t usually write reviews but I cannot recommend The Plot Against America highly enough. To my shame I’ve never read/listened to a Philip Roth book before but I’m going to seek out everything he’s written as his way with language and narrative is just phenomenal. The narrator deserves huge plaudits too, really bought the story vividly to life.

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A bit disappointing

The idea of the story seemed interesting but it didn't turn out to be this way... Every chapter is an anticlimax but I ploughed on, as I didn't have anything else to listen to and I half expected an ending that will make me say "huh!" and in fairness last two chapters made it worth the struggle. But the story isn't half as bad as it's narration. The performance is appaling! Really struggled to stick with it because of the man who's reading it. I think, I'll try the book in its paper version at some stage, once the bad after taste of the audiobook is gone.

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Spoilt by performance

Couldn't get past the dull delivery enough to enjoy the story. Might read the Kindle version

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Amazong

History, but not as we know it. Brilliantly read amd brilliantly written. Bravo Mr Roth.

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prescient

A most extraordinary novel for our times. Beautifully written, a work of genius, read with sensitive understanding of character and context. Essential reading.

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Middling Roth work, terrible read.

If you like Roth, with his incisive intelligence, his masterful prose, his deliberate provocation and trademark obsessions -- read the (very short) book. But don't listen to this read. All that makes Roth particular is obliterated by this terrible audio production. Here is an actor who, in this performance, imposes a blanket uniformity on all. Having myself directed many voice actors, I wonder who could have best conveyed Roth's particular, perverse wit. In fact, there are plenty. Malcolm Hillgartner is not one of them, and Blackstone Audio's choice of him reveals a slovenly ignorance of and indifference to the source material.

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  • Kaui
  • 09-05-17

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!!

38 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 17-05-17

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.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Lisa
  • 28-08-19

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.

12 people found this helpful

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  • R. Kravitz
  • 01-02-17

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.

24 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-02-17

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.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Sommers
  • 01-08-20

First time I returned a book on Audible

It’s like listening to someone read their diary. There’s little development of the story. Kept listening because there were so many great reviews. I guess it’s just not for me. The concept sounded good, but the book is not. Don’t waste your time.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Jodi Noack
  • 13-06-20

I found this to be very boring

The premise sounded great but I gave up in chapter three. It was like watching grass grow and I completely lost interest or care for any of the characters.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew
  • 04-08-16

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.

45 people found this helpful

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  • Merlin
  • 11-03-17

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.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Bette J. Piacente
  • 02-02-17

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.

23 people found this helpful