The Plot Against America by Philip Roth - review by John Dugdale

John Dugdale

Imagine a Fascist in the White House

The Plot Against America


Jonathan Cape 391pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

PHILIP ROTH'S OUTPUT in his majestic late phase can be crudely divided into novels about geriatric sex set in the near-present (Sabbath's Theater, The Human Stain, The Dying Animal) and novels about history. The latter tend to zoom in on periods of national division, and - after revisiting the 1960s in American Pastoral and the McCarthy era in I Married a Communist - Roth now turns his attention to the years just before the US entered the Second World War, when Franklin Roosevelt faced opposition from isolationists who were determined to keep the country out of a conflict between European states.

The Plot Against America is a counterfactual novel, imagining what might have ensued had the aviation ace and leading isolationist Charles Lindbergh (who was indeed encouraged to run but declined) stood against Roosevelt in the November 1940 election. Wendell Willkie, FDRS actual Republican opponent, of course lost, but Roth awards

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