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The Plot Against America
By Philip Roth

Discussed October 2016

Buy The Plot Against America from Amazon.com

Key Characters

  • Philip, Sandy, Alvin, Herman, Bess Roth – a middle class Jewish family
  • Various neighbors and friends in the Jewish community/neighborhood
  • Aunt Evelyn, Rabbi Bengelsdorf – Jewish supporters of Lindbergh
  • Charles Lindbergh – populist, isolationist, President
  • A host of historical figures...

Questions

  1. Did you finish the book
  2. Did you like it? Why or why not?
  3. The book is alternate history – setting in motion events that lead to a different outcome of the 1940 Presidential election and some possible consequences of that.
    1. How realistic, given the starting premise, did you feel the events of the book were? Did you feel that Roth accurately spun history as we know it forward following a realistic trajectory from his starting point?
    2. Alternate History works tend to use major historical events as their launch point....the civil war, the second world war, etcetera. Do you think it's necessary for the changed history to start from such a world shattering event or can an alternate history work using a more subtle or obscure change point? Can you name any examples?
    3. One different aspect of The Plot Against America is that there's a mix of the personal with the historical – with the author being the main character. Did this work well for the story? Did it add anything?
    4. Another interesting aspect is that in many ways, Roth closes the loop on his alternate history detour. Through various events the world as we know it now is relatively restored. What did you think of this “closing the loop” model of alt history?
  4. The Plot Against America is, in the most raw sense, a cautionary tale. Written after and inspired by events after 9/11, the book now seems almost more prescient than reflective. What parallels to the post-9/11 social order did you find? How does the book relate to today's political and social movements?
  5. What questions do you have? What stood out for you?

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