So where is Philip Roth, now that we need him? The novel uses the image of the main character's stamp collection in order to consider the fragility of an ideal America, and to explore how ideals are corrupted.
History is indeed unpredictable and democracy precarious. Obviously, it wasn't to inspire those future writers or to intimidate their future rulers that Kafka wrote "The Trial" and "The Castle" in the early years of the 20th century. He is a practical child in a turbulent time, his world made of concrete and immediate fears.
In this book it's the humiliation that helps to tear apart and very nearly disable the family, inasmuch as each person in the family responds to it differently. The great world came into our house every day through the news reports on the radio that my father listened to regularly and the newspapers that he brought home with him at the end of the day and through his conversations with friends and family and their tremendous concern for what was going on in Europe and here in America.
Smith, despite the casual distaste for Jews expressed by journalists like Westbrook Pegler and Fulton Lewis, despite the blindly self-loving Aryan anti-Semitism of Lindbergh himself, it didn't happen here.
I set out to do exactly what I've done: reconstruct the years as they might have been if Lindbergh, instead of Roosevelt, had been elected president in the election.
I don't think it's far-fetched to imagine the election outcome as I do in the book, to imagine Lindbergh's depriving Roosevelt of a third term.