American Pastoral

American Pastoral

Book - 1998
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This novel follows Seymour "Swede" Levov, a successful Jewish American businessman and former high school star athlete from Newark, New Jersey. Levov's happy and conventional upper middle class life is ruined by the domestic social and political turmoil of the 1960s during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, which in the novel is described as a manifestation of the "indigenous American berserk"; the author investigates the century's most divisive and explosive of decades, the 1960s. As the Swede grows older and America grows crazier, history sweeps his family inexorably into its grip: His own daughter, Merry, commits an unpardonable act of "protest" against the Vietnam war that ultimately severs the Swede from any hope of happiness, family, or spiritual coherence.
An ordinary man finds that his life has been made extraordinary by the catastrophic intrusion of history when, in 1968 his adored daughter plants a bomb that kills a stranger, hurling her father out of the longed-for American pastoral and into the indigenous American berserk. Swede Levov is an upstanding individual who believes in the American Dream, but his daughter Merry has a different dream, to get America out of Vietnam and she kills innocent people to achieve it. For the father it is the end of the world, he has lost his daughter.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 1998
Edition: FIrst Vintage International edition
Copyright Date: ©1997
ISBN: 9780375701429
Branch Call Number: FICTION ROTH 1998
Characteristics: 423 pages ; 21 cm


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Oct 19, 2017

Not my style, 50 pages in and nothing has happened but having dinner with a friend's brother. Can't even finish it, the descriptions are so long and boring.

Won the Pulitzer prize?? The most boring and redundant book I believe I have ever read. Where were Roth's editors? May have made an okay short story.

Mar 11, 2017

Slow pace - brilliant writing. Philip Roth is one of my favourite authors.

Mar 09, 2017

I had a difficult time even starting this novel, so I gave up too early to "star" rate it fairly. I thought it had a lot to do with the daughter of the protagonist during the Vietnam era, but I got totally bogged down in 1940s characters. I think a better approach would have been to start in the 1960s and then, if necessary, move back a bit to understand the parents of the daughter.

Nov 19, 2016


So after completing a couple dozen books so far this year this book really reminded me there is a huge difference between a good story with good writing, and an absolute masterpiece.

It is a shame reading some other reviews on here giving this book 1 star and saying it is terrible. The idea I or someone would skip over this book because of those reviews is a travesty.

This is an incredibly enriching book, with immense depth, nuance, and lyrical prose bringing to life the tumultuous world of the Vietnam war, the SDS, the Weatherman, the Mets, love, loss, fear, religion, and what it means to be an American.

Read it.

Apr 28, 2015

This book is rare genius.

Nov 08, 2013

I think the beauty of the book is the character development of each of the characters, each with a story in America. The author, Philip Roth manages to show the hollowness of the existence of each of the characters against the background of a broken America. The American Pastoral is in fact, far from pastoral, where pastoral is defined as, “having the simplicity, charm, serenity, or other characteristics generally attributed to rural areas”. Roth writes beautifully, skillfully blending the story in to the American experience, the effects on the youth of the American war, the sadness of the Watergate investigations. He shows the effect on the parents of the stupidity of the daughter while showing equally the effect on the daughter of the hollowness of the parents.

A very difficult book to read, violent and disorienting. I felt no compassion for the characters who seemed to have so little taste for making difficult decisions. The writer leads us along to a non-conclusion and I felt reading this book had been a complete waste of time. This is the third Roth book I have read and I did not really enjoy the others, but this was beyond the pale.

crankylibrarian Sep 06, 2011

A profoundly tragic book about a good man: ethical, hard-working, devoted to his family, who discovers too late that living the "right" kind of life is no buffer against great suffering. Although set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War and the Newark riots, Swede Lvov's story could happen to anyone in modern America; that is its power and horror.

Dec 05, 2007

Winner 1998 Pulitzer prize.


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Jan 28, 2012

RONALD NEWTON thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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