The plot against America – Philip Roth

19 05 2007

The counter factual premise of “The Plot Against America” is that the anti-Semite Charles Lindberg wins the 1940 presidential election instead of Roosevelt on an anti-war ticket.  The book is written as a memoir, with Mr Roth remembering his childhood in an increasingly besieged 1940s New Jersey Jewish community.

I enjoyed this book, the family under immense pressure, with the tensions between members, is lovingly and honestly portrayed.  The characters are engaging and believable and there is a great sense of gathering threat and uncertainty, highlighted by a child’s confusion and pain.  In some ways it is one of the most frightening accounts of anti-Semitism I’ve read.  The humanity of the characters, the familiarity of the society portrayed and the believable decent of a liberal democracy into barbarism leaves a nasty sense of “it could happen here”.  The ending was a little anti-climatic, but definitely worth reading.

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