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Our Gang [Paperback]

Philip Roth
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 29 2001 Vintage International
A ferocious political satire in the great tradition, Our Gang is Philip Roth’s brilliantly indignant response to the phenomenon of Richard M. Nixon.

In the character of Trick E. Dixon, Roth shows us a man who outdoes the severest cynic, a peace-loving Quaker and believer in the sanctity of human life who doesn’t have a problem with killing unarmed women and children in self-defense. A master politician with an honest sneer, he finds himself battling the Boy Scouts, declaring war on Pro-Pornography Denmark, all the time trusting in the basic indifference of the voting public.

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Review

"Disturbing, logical...and very funny.... In short, a masterpiece."—The New York Times Book Review

"Perhaps the funniest and most complex exercise in sustained political satire since Animal Farm." — Newsweek

"Outrageously hilarious." —Saturday Review of Books

"Brilliant satire in the real Swift tradition." —Anthony Burgess

From the Back Cover

?Disturbing, logical...and very funny.... In short, a masterpiece.??The New York Times Book Review

Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars okay Oct. 2 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Yes, this is very dated, but that makes it an interesting historical artifact. Yes, this is over-the-top, but it's over-the-top in an entertaining way. It's a light piece of comic fluff you'll finish easily in one sitting. I disagree, by the way, that one could in this manner satirize convincingly any American president. There has to be some core truth to exaggerate. In particular, I don't think Bill Clinton could be successfully subjected to this kind of treatment. There are only so many yucks you can squeeze out of Monica, and nobody ever REALLY cared about the affair anyway except (presumably) the principals and those vicious Republican corporate stooges (worthy of Nixon's Watergate henchmen) out to get Clinton by hook or by crook. It would also be difficult to subject Bush II to this kind of treatment, but for a different reason. Nearly everything Bush II does and says is ALREADY an exaggeration. The satirical Madison, Wisconsin weekly, The Onion, for example, ran a piece about Bush II immediately after he had...um...secured, let's say, the presidency with this headline: "Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over". Okay, nice try, but, where's the exaggeration? The economy is in a tailspin; the surplus was handed over to the very, very wealthy and large corporations; pretty much all environmental protections are being systematically dismantled; and we are perpetually and permanently, it seems, at war. That's just not funny. In any case, read this book, but don't assume it typical of Philip Roth. It's very much a "one-off", as they say.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tricky for those who don't get it... Aug. 15 2001
Format:Paperback
I have a great affinity for this book for a few reasons, the biggest being there is no longer such scathing political satire that is created in so many layers like this little missive from Roth. The media, literary world, and even the OpEds in many newspapers forget the power wielded and the passion invocked by a well-crafted satire instead of mud slinging and innuendo. The story of Trick E. Dixon and his fervent and funny fight for the sanctity of human life as well as the right to kill anyone who disagrees is the perfect paradox of politics. The persona of Richard Nixon, love him or hate him, is the perfect foil for this kind of dialogue/novel and it is an eerie historical note when so very much of the spirit of Trick E. Dixon was soon to be exposed in our own president. If you vote, read this book. If you don't, shame on you!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Scalding Satire June 15 2002
Format:Paperback
This is wild, satirical look at the Nixon administration and it is hilarious. Roth scalds Nixon and his felonious cronies with absurd scenarios and commentary. Ultimately every presidential adminstration could receive similar literary treatment for their vapid pronouncements and high and mighty attitude, but the Nixon persona lends itself perfectly to such an exercise. Clinton is a likely candidate for a future effort. If you are a political junky you particularly should enjoy this presidential farce.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On The Comeback Trail, Or Tricky In Hell Jan. 31 2005
By TommyEaseTheChill - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I picked up this book at a library sale for ten cents. It was amazing! The satire is about much more than Richard Nixon's personal crimes. It's about how politicians use stock phrases and ideas to sell just about any form of cowardice and corruption. Make no mistake, Richard Nixon is not the only target here. Roth slashes the fatuous pieties of network news with tremendous effectiveness -- he really skewers the mock gravitas of talking heads like Tom and Dan and all the rest. His take on the media's "all is well" mentality has never been more timely. "Yet corruption there has been before, and the nation survives."

The book does have weak passages, like the whole Curt Flood abortion and Boy Scout murder routine, which drags on and on. And a lot of Roth's gibes at Tricky for being a "closet queer" are painfully homophobic and shallow.

But the final chapter, "On The Comeback Trail, or Tricky In Hell" is really a stand alone masterpiece. Tricky gives a speech which is utterly demonic and yet filled with Cold War rhetoric that would have been absolutely appropriate for any politician from Eisenhower to Reagan. "We cannot be triumphant over goodness with a strategy of simply holding the line."

Brilliant stuff!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Gang's all here - and gone Dec 3 2006
By Bomojaz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Thirty-five years after the initial publication of Philip Roth's scathing satire on Richard Nixon (Trick E. Dixon in the book), one wonders how the book is received and perceived today. Is Nixon, the man and his presidency, still lodged enough in the public consciousness for Roth's hilarious bashings to make sense anymore? Other presidents, including Lincoln and Andrew Jackson among others, have been satirized, but those works have not lasted. My guess is that will probably be the fate of Roth's book, too. It's not a great book and goes on too long to remain potent to the end, but it is funny, and for anyone who's lived through the Nixon years, biting and right on. And it's not just Nixon who gets shafted; there are also John and Robert Charisma (Kennedy), Hubert Hollow (Humphrey), Lyin' B. Johnson, and Rev. Billy Cupcake (Graham), to name just a few, who also are satirized. Perhaps the funniest (and most clever) thing is the Preface that Roth added to editions published starting in 1973 (the so-called Watergate editions) where he apologizes to Nixon for writing the book before "evidence" of Nixon's downfall could possibly be known; Roth's tongue is so deeply lodged in his cheek that it must have been painful. A mere blip on the radar screen of Roth's works, the book is still a rollicking pie-in-the-face to Richard Nixon and his skewed take on the political scene.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Story of Tricky Dixon Feb. 28 2008
By JMack - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There are those that have said this story is dated in their reviews. If we changed the names to reflect more contemporary leaders, is it not really just the same story today? While the story itself is a little overdone at points, the satire still brings clear echos of the Nixon Administration.

The idea that "Tricky Dixon" was a power hungry manipulator seems well accepted today. But when this book came out, the idea was still in its embryonic states. Essentially, Tricky manipulates the voting population with a pro-life stance that he takes to an extreme. As the chapter titles might imply, it causes an unexpected demise. Tricky's dastardly tricks along the way to the end seem preposeterous. Yet what is funny is generally not far from the truth. Those same sections run too long with some of the weaker points of humor, the fast pace is certain to keep readers engaged.

Though slight in length, those with knowledge of the Nixon Administration will enjoy this book. Even those with a certain degree of political insight that is less than conservative are likely to enjoy this satire.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tricky for those who don't get it... Aug. 15 2001
By Gypsychick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have a great affinity for this book for a few reasons, the biggest being there is no longer such scathing political satire that is created in so many layers like this little missive from Roth. The media, literary world, and even the OpEds in many newspapers forget the power wielded and the passion invocked by a well-crafted satire instead of mud slinging and innuendo. The story of Trick E. Dixon and his fervent and funny fight for the sanctity of human life as well as the right to kill anyone who disagrees is the perfect paradox of politics. The persona of Richard Nixon, love him or hate him, is the perfect foil for this kind of dialogue/novel and it is an eerie historical note when so very much of the spirit of Trick E. Dixon was soon to be exposed in our own president. If you vote, read this book. If you don't, shame on you!
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scalding Satire June 15 2002
By "mahray" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is wild, satirical look at the Nixon administration and it is hilarious. Roth scalds Nixon and his felonious cronies with absurd scenarios and commentary. Ultimately every presidential adminstration could receive similar literary treatment for their vapid pronouncements and high and mighty attitude, but the Nixon persona lends itself perfectly to such an exercise. Clinton is a likely candidate for a future effort. If you are a political junky you particularly should enjoy this presidential farce.
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