Friday, March 10, 2006

Could it happen here?

The Plot Against America is about as good as they say, at least from the literary side. I thought his depiction of the family dynamics of American Jews facing an Anti-Semitic nation was fascinating and well told. In the book Lindbergh wins the election of 1940, keeping the US out of the war throughout his Presidency and slowly edging towards fascism. Some family members try to adjust by joining the Lindbergh team while others resist and others just try to lay low. Because the action is restrained, I never felt like Roth let the story get away from him. It seemed a quite reasonable depiction of what a slow growth in discriminatory policy could look like in the US.

As this scathing review from the (isolationist and anti-war) American Conservative states, Roth greatly simplifies history, and that is a problem, although I think a minor one. The reviewer is angry because he thinks Roth's books support the Bush viewpoint and avoids the fact that it was anti-war not pro-war people who were ostracized in the 1940s. The reviewer pays too much attention to the background and very little to the substance of the story which is about the regrets of the main character and the choices made by his family members. He also claims that Roth is entirely negative towards those outside of New York, which is untrure. Admirable characters appear throughout and from all sides. So while I wouldn't praise the book for it's historical accuracy I still think it is well worth reading. As you might imagine the people over at are none too keen on the book either, one refers to it as a "pant load."

A randomish aside. A similar book, Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here, inspired the sci-fi miniseries V. Crazy.

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