"The Plot Against America" by Philip Roth (2004)
"'Lower your voice!' and the tension of the day now so overwhelmed her that she lost her temper, and to the boy she had so painfully missed all summer long, she snapped, 'You don't know what you're talking about!'"
Philip Roth is an American novelist. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for his novel American Pastoral. He has received numerous other awards, and many of his books have been adapted into movies. He may have retired in 2012.
The Plot Against America is a work of alternative history, and in spirit it's not all that different from Philip K. Dick's earlier novel, The Man in the High Castle. Yet where Dick brings alternate timelines into his tale of post-WWII America, Roth's narrative is much more personal, and more concerned with what it means to be a Jew in the USA.
In the novel, the author witnesses history unfold in his quiet, predominately Jewish neighborhood in New Jersey. Roosevelt ends his second term with a whimper, and in the wake of isolationist sentiment the younger Charles Lindbergh is elected President. Lindbergh, an anti-Semite and admirer of Hitler, reaches understandings with both the Nazis and Imperial Japan as war engulfs Europe.
Compared to The Man in the High Castle, it's fairly pedestrian and lacks suspense. It's not terrible, but I can understand why it was passed over for several science fiction awards during its year of publication. It's simply not imaginative enough for science fiction fans, and as a work of Literature it's somewhat one-dimensional. Some of Roth's observations on what it is to be a Jew in America are very insightful, but the narrative is overlong, and most of the characters are ciphers. The movement backward and forward through time also grows irritating, and at one point he gives away the ending before the book is really over.
Philip Roth has written some great books - American Pastoral blew me away the first time I read it - but this book is something of a dud, and is probably best avoided. It's not bad, but there are much better books out there.