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The Plot Against America

Written by: Philip Roth
Narrated by: Ron Silver
Length: 13 hrs and 23 mins

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Publisher's 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.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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!!

13 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.

18 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.

17 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.

4 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.

36 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.

21 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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • W Perry Hall
  • 20-01-17

"The Pompous SOB knows everything...."


“The pompous [SOB] knows everything. It's too bad he doesn't know anything else.”

"--nor had I understood til then how the shameless vanity of utter fools can so strongly determine the fate of others”

“How can people like these be in charge of our country? If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I’d think I was having a hallucination.”

Philip Roth, The Plot Against America


Philip Roth's convincing tale of an alternate U.S. history has been made all the more plausible by recent events. I mean, look again at these quotes. In this 1940 America, the heroic Charles Lindbergh, known as an isolationist and admirer of Hitler in his early years, is elected U.S. President in a landslide over FDR by voters fearful of becoming involved in another European war. The U.S. does not get involved in WWII and the election unleashes a swelling tide of anti-Semitism resulting, ultimately, in assignments of Jewish citizens to certain areas designated by the U.S. government's new Office of American Absorption.

Roth impressively paints this tense fictional world in the Newark, New Jersey in which he himself was raised. He narrates through his early teen, fictional self providing an absorbing read made more captivating by recent Russian interference with the U.S. Presidential election and is even more timely and chilling on this inaugural eve.

26 people found this helpful

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  • Amy
  • 17-02-17

Frighteningly familiar

This is the first Philip Roth book I've ever read- and to no one's surprise , he's brilliant, gifted, what everyone says. In the early era of Trump, this book is eerily familiar: a shock that he's elected, surrounded by white supremacists, influenced by fascists and killers from other governments. I hope we have a different ending.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 29-02-20

Eerily prescient

4.5/5
Two things drove my interest to investigate this book: 1. David Simon is producing a show on HBO based off of the book and I adored David Simon's work...The Wire, The Deuce, etc and think he's one of the finest creators out there to depict America and the various tribulations subsets of people have to face. 2. I love alternate history, particularly those that involve one of the major World Wars.
On looking back, I should have read more about the man who put the proverbial pen to paper for this piece: Philip Roth. My first work by him and most certainly not my last, this should be required reading for people living in America. That's how good, how informative, and how evergreen this title is.
At first I thought I was going to be treated to an action/espionage thriller but instead it's a slice of life bit of fiction on how Ruth's family faces the aftershocks of anti-Semitism in America that occur when FDR loses his 3rd term election to Charle Lindberg (an anti-semitic, Nazi sympathizer).
As my title states, this alternate 1940s America is similar to that of the current disgrace of an administration and the prejudice that has been rampantly unveiled in recent years stateside. We get statements like 'America first', fear mongering, suppression of the press, violence to minorities, and hatred. Thus, much should be reflected on in this rich text.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dr. Simon G Bell
  • 24-12-16

Unbelievably prescient

Would you consider the audio edition of The Plot Against America to be better than the print version?

Excellently told story and so very moving in our present situation

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Plot Against America?

The gradual unwinding of the plot and the hideously possible nature of the crimes committed.

What does Ron Silver bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The reading brings in accent and flourish which I could only guess at as a Brit.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I could not listen to this in one. I had to keep coming back and savouring the building horror.

Any additional comments?

Just a fantastic bit of guesswork. Who does control Trump after all?

20 people found this helpful

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  • Connie Rea
  • 12-03-19

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..

1 person found this helpful

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  • Malwina Tritt
  • 15-08-17

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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  • Chris Storer2
  • 09-08-17

Spoilt by performance

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

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  • S Garlick
  • 06-06-17

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ian
  • 22-01-20

Great example of big history on little people

Enjoyed the book in general, many parallels to Trump's America, though written before Trump came into contention. Hate the inclusion of music at the end of the book, WTF is the point of that?

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  • GORDON
  • 05-10-19

Brilliant!

The narrator makes this book come alive. In turns tragic and hilarious I enjoyed it from start to finish.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-09-18

insightful and incredibly real

uncanny read in the current era - the parallels go deeper than I expected, perhaps a testimony to how acutely grounded it is in the reality of American society and how factions would respond in such a crisis. the ambiguities and mysteries around lindbergh were interesting and it was a deep insight into the psyche of American Jewish communities.

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  • Robert
  • 29-08-18

Brilliant

A brilliant and entirely engaging read and a stark warning to us all in the time of Trump

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  • Benjamin Pinsent
  • 28-10-17

Great story shame about the narration

This is a fantastic story. Very topical, first person perspective grounds you in it. Shame about the monotonous narration

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  • Malcolm Frazer
  • 08-10-19

Imaginative, engaging and moving. One of Roth’s finest achievements

Philip Roth had a long and distinguished career and this novel of alternative history is one of his finest. Its as much an account of boyhood as it is about the terrifying consequences of electing a populist anti-Semitic president. The narrative flow is assured and the prose sublime. From the first paragraph you know you are in the hands of a consummate craftsman. Ron Silver’s narrative gift is hard to fault - New York, Jewish, tender, catching every nuance of the sparkling dialogue. No one (and I mean no one) does better dialogue than Roth. If there is a fault, perhaps it is that the novel has an unconvincing ending that plays out like a feud ex machina. But I literally didn’t care. Do yourself a favour and experience this book from Audible as soon as you can.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-06-19

For a certain audience

I really wanted this book to be about something exciting and new, but alas, it's the same old story in a new cover.
Its for a chosen audience only. I put a lot of effort into trying to get through this book, but I could only stand 1 hour of it.
The trouble here is you can't honestly appraise this book without being called anti-semitic, which aparently everyone who isn't jewish is.
The truth is this is mostly a gentile hating pile of twaddle. It's a given that if anyone dare to point out the obvious flaw in this book some raving bar mitzvah boy will damm you as a jew hating, holocaust denying anti-semite.

I am none of these things, but then, I did only ingest a couple of chapters.