In an astonishing feat of empathy and narrative invention, our most ambitious novelist imagines an alternate version of American history.
In 1940 Charles A. Lindbergh, heroic aviator and rabid isolationist, is elected president. Shortly thereafter, he negotiates a cordial "understanding" with Adolf Hitler while the new government embarks on a program of folksy anti-Semitism. For one boy growing up in Newark, Lindbergh's election is the first in a series of ruptures that threaten to destroy his small, safe corner of America - and with it his mother, his father, and his older brother.
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Roth at his worst
- Alan Jay Ominsky, M.D.
Good story with confused narrative
The book reads like "this is what the onset of fascism feels like" from the perspective of a family facing impending oppression. This aspect of the book is well done. On the other hand, the "what if" rewriting of history only serves confuse the narrative and ultimate detracts from the serious sense of social claustrophobia and confounding choices that one is faced with in a situation like this.
The book probably would have been more sincere without the "what if" aspect, but that hook certainly made it more fun to listen to. The expository sections of the book which take place outside the family do a lot to create some context, but the mix of history and fiction makes it difficult to stay immersed in the cocoon of paranoia and desperation.