In The Plot Against America, author Philip Roth explores the “what if” possibility of what would have happened if Nazi sympathizer, Charles Lindbergh, would have won the 1940 Presidential election over Franklin Roosevelt. Not only would the US not have joined World War II on the side of the Britain, France and Russia, but white supremacist ideas would have gained a measure of legitimacy. Told from the point of view of his fictional eight-year-old self, Roth explores the effects of Washington politics and anti-Semitism on a middle class Jewish family living in Newark.
Writing an alternative history of the World War II time period is a really cool idea. Roth does a great job of incorporating facts into his fiction, so that as unbelievable as the plot is, it seems almost possible. Frightening, really. My problem with the book is that the pacing was incredibly slow, drawing out every detail and thought of this little boy’s life until the readers feels like they’ve been beat with a stick. Then, the cool plot-twist ending was written so poorly, the impact was completely underwhelming. After the twist, Roth tacked on several more chapters of nothing before cutting the end off abruptly. Basically, Roth had a great idea, but completely over-wrote and lost control of it. This might be a case where a movie version would be better than the book.
Overall, I give The Plot Against America…
Plot – 2 bookmarks (could have been higher if pacing was faster and the twist was handled better)
Character development – 4 bookmarks
Moral lessons – 3 ½ bookmarks (makes you think)
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Mason Cook (Phillip), Jesse Eisenburg (Cousin Alvin), Jennifer Grey (Phillip's aunt), Adrien Brody (Phillip's dad), Leonardo DiCaprio (President Lindenbergh)