In 1997 Philip Roth won the Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. In 1998 he received the National Medal of Arts at the White House and in 2002 the highest award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Gold Medal in Fiction. He twice won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He won the PEN/Faulkner Award three times. In 2005 The Plot Against America received the Society of American Historians' Prize for "the outstanding historical novel on an American theme for 2003-2004." Roth received PEN's two most prestigious awards: in 2006 the PEN/Nabokov Award and in 2007 the PEN/Bellow Award for achievement in American fiction. In 2011 he received the National Humanities Medal at the White House, and was later named the fourth recipient of the Man Booker International Prize. He died in 2018.
Alternative reality at its most chilling: Charles Lindbergh defeats FDR in the 1940 presidential election and seeks accommodation with Hitler, even as the Roth family (and millions of other American Jews) watch anxiously from the sidelines. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
During his long career, Roth has shown himself a master at creating fictional doppelgangers. In this stunning novel, he creates a mesmerizing alternate world as well, in which Charles A. Lindbergh defeats FDR in the 1940 presidential election, and Philip, his parents and his brother weather the storm in Newark, N.J. Incorporating Lindbergh's actual radio address in which he accused the British and the Jews of trying to force America into a foreign war, Roth builds an eerily logical narrative that shows how isolationists in and out of government, emboldened by Lindbergh's blatant anti-Semitism (he invites von Rippentrop to the White House, etc.), enact new laws and create an atmosphere of religious hatred that culminates in nationwide pogroms. Historical figures such as Walter Winchell, Fiorello La Guardia and Henry Ford inhabit this chillingly plausible fiction, which is as suspenseful as the best thrillers and illustrates how easily people can be persuaded by self-interest to abandon morality. The novel is, in addition, a moving family drama, in which Philip's fiercely ethical father, Herman, finds himself unable to protect his loved ones, and a family schism develops between those who understand the eventual outcome of Lindbergh's policies and those who are co-opted into abetting their own potential destruction. Many episodes are touching and hilarious: young Philip experiences the usual fears and misapprehensions of a pre-adolescent; locks himself into a neighbor's bathroom; gets into dangerous mischief with a friend; watches his cousin masturbating with no comprehension of the act. In the balance of personal, domestic and national events, the novel is one of Roth's most deft creations, and if the lollapalooza of an ending is bizarre with its revisionist theory about the motives behind Lindbergh's anti-Semitism, it's the subtext about what can happen when government limits religious liberties in the name of the national interest that gives the novel moral authority. Roth's writing has never been so direct and accessible while retaining its stylistic precision and acute insights into human foibles and follies. (Oct. 5) Forecast: With its intriguing premise and thriller-tense plot, it's likely that this novel will broaden Roth's readership while instigating provocative debate. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-When Charles Lindbergh, Republican candidate in the 1940 presidential race, defeats popular FDR in a landslide, pollsters scramble for explanations-among them that, to a country weary of crisis and fearful of becoming involved in another European war, the aviator represents "normalcy raised to heroic proportions." For the Roth family, however, the situation is anything but normal, and heroism has a different meaning. As the anti-Semitic new president cozies up to the Third Reich, right-wing activists throughout the nation seize the moment. Most citizens, enamored of isolationism and lost in hero worship, see no evil-but in the Roths' once secure and stable Jewish neighborhood in New Jersey, the world is descending into a nightmare of confusion, fear, and unpredictability. The young narrator, Phil, views the developing crisis through the lens of his family life and his own boyish concerns. His father, clinging tenaciously to his trust in America, loses his confidence painfully and incrementally. His mother tries to shield the children from her own growing fear. An aunt, brother, and cousin respond in different ways, and the family is divided. But though the situation is grim, this is not a despairing tale; suspenseful, poignant, and often humorous, it engages readers in many ways. It prompts them to consider the nature of history, present times, and possible futures, and can lead to good discussions among thoughtful readers and teachers. Bibliographic sources, notes on historical figures, and documentation are included.-Christine C. Menefee, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"A terrific political novel. . . . Sinister, vivid, dreamlike .
. . creepily plausible. . . . You turn the pages, astonished and
frightened." -- The New York Times Book Review
"Huge, inflammatory, painfully moving. . . . Far and away the most outward-looking, expansive . . . book Roth has written." -The Washington Post Book World "Roth's most powerfrul book to date. Confounding and illuminating, enraging and discomfiting, imaginative and utterly-terrifyingly-believable." -- San Francisco Chronicle "Once again, Philip Roth has published a novel that you must read-now . . . . A stunning work." -The Christian Science Monitor
"It's not a prophecy; it's a nightmare, and it becomes more nightmarish-and also funnier and more bizarre-as is goes along. . . . [A] sinuous and brilliant book, with its extreme sweetness, its black pain, and its low, ceaseless cackle." -The New Yorker "Ambitious and chilling. . . a breath-taking leap of imagination. . . . The writing is brilliant." -USA Today "Intimately observed characters in situations fraught with society's deepest, most bitter tensions. . . . Too ingeniously excruciating to put down." -Newsweek "Never has [Roth's voice] been more nuanced . . . beautifully particularized. . . . [A] novelist who for 45 years has been continuously reinventing himself, never more notably than in The Plot Against America." -The Boston Globe "Ingenious . . . Roth's gorgeous and forceful prose, which swirls and dances and rages . . . has never seemed more precise and lucid." -Star-Telegram (Dallas/Fort Worth) "Raises the stakes as high as a patriotic novel can take them. . . . Effortlessly, it seems, Roth has led us to suspend disbelief; then he makes us believe; then he suspends this belief and finally removes it. . . . A fabulous yarn." -Los Angeles Times Book Review "A remarkable act of historical imagination and one of [Roth's] most moving novels." -People "Roth takes readers on a harrowing safari across interdimensional borders into a bizarre version of his hometown. . . . [His] delivery is so matter-of-fact, so documentary deadpan that when we're 10 pages into the book our own world starts to seem like a flimsy fantasy." -Time "The most compelling of living writers. . . . [His] every book is like a dispatch from the deepest recesses of the national mind." -New York Magazine
"A richly terrifying historical novel. . . . [Roth is] the greatest fiction writer America has ever produced." -Esquire "The writing is extraordinary, complex but highly readable, evocative, and colored with a tenderness and affection. . . . This is one of Roth's finest books." -O (The Oprah Magazine)