The Plot Against America

Plot Against America

OK, so it’s a long-ass time since I finished this one (November 11), so my memories of it might not be perfect.

The basic idea is that instead of opposing Hitler (in a non-confrontational way) towards the end of the 30s and in the early 40s, America voted against Eisenhower and for popular hero and (possible) Nazi sympathiser (proud owner of an Iron Cross, or some such trinket) Charles Lindberg.

It’s a counterfactual autobiography! Philip Roth casts himself as a young Jewish American from the east coast whose family is ghettoised and so forth. His aunt joins Lindberg’s administration as part of the imagined group of Jewish collaborators which causes some tension, I can tell you. And his beloved older brother also joins up, after spending some time working on a farm in Nebraska (or somewhere, I’m not looking it up). The Roth family is then reassigned to some other backward-ass American town, and we all think we know what that means: death camps! In America! Who would dare?

Well, it quickly backs away from that. Lindberg is finally opposed by someone other than the scared Jews, and then JUST DISAPPEARS while campaigning for re-election. His much more Nazi-sympathising Vice President is impeached, Eisenhower is elected in a landslide and America joins the war a year or so late and saves our Limey asses as normal. Or something.

Lindberg’s not to blame either: it turns out Hitler kidnapped his baby and was threatening to… do something to him if Lindberg didn’t stay out of European business and set up his own mini final solution, which Lindberg never quite got round to because he had the heart of a true American, god bless him.

So what starts out looking like an exploration of Fascism in America might look like quickly runs away and says “but it’d never really happen, we all know that.”


See also:

FarthingJo Walton – more or less the same thing, but in England.

The Man in the High CastlePhilip K. Dick – what if the Allies lost the Second World War?


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