Cashing in on his celebrity cachet, a populist demagogue and political outsider takes control of America’s Republican Party. After getting elected President he begins a state-sanctioned campaign of persecution against one of the nation’s largest minorities. While America’s progressive elements loudly cry foul the country’s new President employs media manipulation and carefully staged publicity stunts to push his hateful agenda, feeding off deep-seated racist and xenophobic sentiments. While America descends into darkness the new President enjoys a cozy, almost treasonous relationship with a European dictator.
No, I’m not taking about life under President Donald Trump. I’m describing Philip Roth’s 2004 alternate history novel The Plot Against America. Roth’s novel has been on my list to read for over a decade, but not long ago I finally said enough is enough and grabbed a copy from my public library. As I’m sure you can guess from my opening paragraph, the more I read The Plot Against America, the more the novel started to sound like Trump’s blueprint for America.
The alternate history that Roth concocts for The Plot Against America involves aviator Charles Lindbergh winning the Republican nomination and going on to defeat FDR in the 1940 Presidential Election. Once President, Lindbergh begins a slow, subtle but malevolent campaign against the nation’s Jews designed to isolate them politically and economically. Through the eyes of young Philip Roth, we see the nation succumb to the antisemitic machinations of Lindbergh and his cronies. Will America throw off the yoke of oppression, or will the nation become another Nazi Germany?
I enjoyed Roth’s novel, so much so it’s left me wanting to read more stuff from the venerable American author. It’s also made me wanna read more works of alternate history, a genre that’s always fascinated me, even though I’ve read very little of it. So with that in mind, don’t be surprised if you find me reading Goodbye, Columbus or American Pastoral. Or a bit of alternate history like Days of Rice and Salt or Lion’s Blood.