American Pastoral

American Pastoral

Book - 1997
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American Pastoral is the story of a fortunate American's rise and fall - of a strong, confident master of social equilibrium overwhelmed by the forces of social disorder. Seymour "Swede" Levov - a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, the prosperous inheritor of his father's Newark glove factory - comes of age in thriving, triumphant postwar America. But everything he loves is lost when the country begins to run amok in the turbulent 1960s. Not even the most private, well-intentioned citizen, it seems, gets to sidestep the sweep of history. With vigorous realism, Roth takes us back to the conflicts and violent transitions of the 1960s. This is a book about loving - and hating - America. It's a book about wanting to belong - and refusing to belong - to America. It sets the desire for an American pastoral - a respectable life of space, calm, order, optimism, and achievement - against the indigenous American Berserk.
Publisher: Boston, Mass. : Houghton Mifflin : 1997
ISBN: 9780395860212
Branch Call Number: FIC Roth
Characteristics: 423p


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Feb 08, 2018

This may be the best American novel ever written. Five stars!

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.

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Jan 28, 2012

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


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