Skip to main content
PBS logo
 
 

Book Review of The Plot Against America

The Plot Against America
perryfran avatar reviewed on + 1171 more book reviews


This is really a remarkable piece of alternate-history fiction by Roth who poses the question "what would have happened if Charles Lindbergh, a Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semitic isolationist, had been elected president in 1940." The story is told from the point-of-view of young Philip Roth who lives with his family in the Jewish area of Newark, New Jersey during the late 30s and early 40s. Roth's family and most of the neighborhood Jews are staunch supporters of FDR but when Lindbergh is elected with his isolationist policies, many minds are swayed including some prominent people in the Jewish community. Lindbergh, in actuality, did receive the Service Cross of the German Eagle in 1938 from Herman Göring at the order of the Führer and had Nazi leanings.

In the novel, Lindbergh gradually unleashes quasi-Nazi forces in the US. He negotiates a cordial understanding with Adolf Hitler, and accepts his anti-Semitic policies. All of this has profound effects on the Roth family including young Philip whose life goes from being tranquil and whose most valuable possession was his stamp collection to a life of fear and dread and how his family has been drastically changed. These changes affect his cousin Alvin who goes to Canada to fight in the war and ends up losing his leg, his aunt who is engaged to a Rabbi who sympathizes with Lindbergh's policies, and his brother Sandy who is sent to Kentucky as part of one Lindbergh's programs and who too becomes a sympathizer to Lindbergh's policies.

The novel is very convincing and written as if it did actually happen this way. It is also uncanny how in some ways this novel foreshadows what is happening today in Trump America. Overall, I would give this one a strong recommendation!