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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Plot Against America 1.2: The 33rd President

A powerful second episode of The Plot Against America, with its now patented mix of sharp historical details and disturbing alternate history.

The details again range from rarely heard Yiddish, like bahaimhe for cow, to those light green semi-translucent dishes on the table.  And the delicatessen looked so good I could taste it.

The alternate reality was equally, if verging on tragically, convincing.  Lindbergh, running on a me vs. war platform, beats Roosevelt in his quest for a third term in 1940.  We learn this by witnessing the Levins learning of this via the radio in their living room.  Though I knew this was going to happen in this story, it was a blow, anyway, offered at almost the same time as Herman Levin ducks into his Newark moviehouse to see the Nazis taking over Europe.  The mix of movies and radio indeed typified this time - nothing alternate about their role in history - and The Plot Against America's employment of newsreels and radio to convey its narrative makes its alternate history all the more real.

The other smack-in-your-face element is Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf's support of Lindbergh in his campaign for President.  The character is all the more horrifying because he's played the charismatic John Tuturro.  Bengelsdorf is so charismatic, so sure of his beliefs and so well spoken, that he even attracts Evelyn Finkel played by Winona Ryder.   Is he based on a real person?  Not that I know of, and I suppose that's one optimistic aspect of this frightening story.

Lindbergh's election as the 33rd American President means the pace of this short series will be quickening.  Alvin Levin has gone to Canada to enlist in their armed forces because he want to "kill Nazis".  Will America with Lindbergh in the White House offer Britain and Churchill no help in their heroic attempt to stave off Hitler?

I'll be back here with my report next week.

See also The Plot Against America 1.1: Yet Another Alternate Nazi History, with Forshpeis


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