Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Plot Against America

I’ve always been a fan of alternate histories, “what if” tales of how things would be different if the South had won “the War of Southern Independence,” or the Russians successfully invaded the United States.

Philip Roth’s “The Plot Against America” is the tale of Charles Lindbergh’s defeat of FDR in 1940, and the consequent rise of organized anti-semitism. When elected Lindbergh, who had campaigned on the simple slogan “Lindbergh or War,” meets in Iceland with Hitler and negotiates a non-aggression pact.

I think that what makes this novel so frightening is the great subtlety with which the systematic oppression and dispersion of Jewish families takes place. Part of the fascination, for me, was that I remember 1940 and the events and people described there so that the historical alternative seemed so much more believable.

Roth includes an historical postscript with biographies and background on the historical players of the time.

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