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Open Book

The Plot Against America (Houghton Mifflin, 2004) by Philip Roth, AA’55.

Comfortable in his thoroughly assimilated middle-class life, in 1940 the young (and at least semifictional) Philip Roth takes for granted the security he feels “as an American an America at peace with the world.” Until, that is, Republican delegates nominate aviation hero and rabid isolationist Charles A. Lindbergh to face off against book “Straight-talking Lindy,” who blames the Jews for pushing America to war and proudly sports a Nazi medal, ultimately triumphs, and Roth’s world deteriorates as Lindbergh’s policies ally the country with Nazi Germany and growing anti-Semitism disrupts his Newark family. Narrated from the adult Roth’s perspective, the book creates an alternative history the New York Times calls “sinister, vivid, dreamlike, preposterous and, at the same time, creepily plausible.”

“It was when I looked next at the album’s facing page to see what, if anything, had happened to my 1934 National Parks set of ten that I fell out of the bed and woke up on the floor, this time screaming. Yosemite in California, Grand Canyon in Arizona, Mesa Verde in Colorado, Crater Lake in Oregon, Acadia in Maine, Mount Rainier in Washington, Yellowstone in Wyoming, Zion in Utah, Glacier in Montana, the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee—and across the face of each, across the cliffs, the woods, the rivers, the peaks, the geyser, the gorges, the granite coastline, across the deep blue water and the high waterfalls, across everything in America that was the bluest and the greenest and the whitest and to be preserved forever in these pristine reservations, was printed a black swastika.”












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