Skip to main content
PBS logo

Book Reviews of American Pastoral

American Pastoral
American Pastoral
Author: Philip Roth
The Market's bargain prices are even better for Paperbackswap club members!
Retail Price: $15.95
Buy New (Paperback): $12.79 (save 19%) or
Become a PBS member and pay $8.89+1 PBS book credit Help icon(save 44%)
ISBN-13: 9780375701429
ISBN-10: 0375701427
Publication Date: 2/3/1998
Pages: 432
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.

3.5 stars, based on 151 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

13 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed American Pastoral on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
This is his masterpiece. Roth is the master of exactitude. All the nuances and events are there for a reason. If you've never read Roth, I strongly recommend this one.
reviewed American Pastoral on + 412 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
I'll preface this by saying that this is a challenging novel, but if you allow yourself to get pulled in, you will be blown away by its depth. I sympathized with the protagonist as much as I ever have for a fictional character. My only criticism is the ending, which I don't think did this book justice.
reviewed American Pastoral on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I thought it was a bummer. So many
dynsfunctional people, so little time.
reviewed American Pastoral on + 13 more book reviews
Beautiful book. This is rich and completely deserving of the Pulitzer.
kimdep avatar reviewed American Pastoral on + 39 more book reviews
I can see why this is a "masterpiece" & a pulitizer prize winner. The author paints very complete portrait of the main character the Swede. The story is interesting but the very thorough examination of the Swede inner workings is the centerpiece of the book. It is truly the examined life. He leaves things for the reader to figure out and so it's a book that lets you question the fate of the characters. Probably would've been really fun to read with someone else or in a book club.
Page5 avatar reviewed American Pastoral on
The first 90 pages kept putting me to sleep (I read before bed). Aging high school athletic stars and old men with prostate problems apparently do not interest me at all. The book did become more interesting later but the narrator (Zuckerman) is unreliable.

To me, this story was largely narrative - a commentary of the social turbulence of the 60's and an analysis of human traits, desires, etc. I was looking for a story (plot) and Roth did start to give me one but then went back to the narrative/commentary. If you are not going to have a plot then you need interesting characters. I found most of the characters and their actions/inactions more annoying than interesting. Roth left many of the threads of the story unanswered. He did convey the bewilderment and confusion of the parents of radical protesters well.

I've read a lot of Pulitzers and this one left me underwhelmed.
reviewed American Pastoral on + 8 more book reviews
Good read, took me a bit to get into it, but the main character and his daughter are very interesting. good for relationships b/t the generations.
Yoni avatar reviewed American Pastoral on + 327 more book reviews
An amazing multi-layered book. Very complex,not an easy read. Found it difficult at first but once I got into it I could not put it down. Intense, sad, and at times very ugly. Highly recommend if you are looking for a book that is just the opposite of mindless!
reviewed American Pastoral on
Pulitzer Prize winner. Emotional, intelligent and heart wrenching!
reviewed American Pastoral on + 18 more book reviews
Not Roth's best
reviewed American Pastoral on
reviewed American Pastoral on + 23 more book reviews
This book moved slowly for me, but it was a National Bestseller written by Philip Roth (author of The Human Stain).

Philip Roth's 22nd book takes a life-long view of the American experience in this thoughtful investigation of the century's most divisive and explosive of decades, the '60s. Returning again to the voice of his literary alter ego Nathan Zuckerman, Roth is at the top of his form. His prose is carefully controlled yet always fresh and intellectually subtle as he reconstructs the halcyon days, circa World War II, of Seymour "the Swede" Levov, a high school sports hero and all-around Great Guy who wants nothing more than to live in tranquillity. But as the Swede grows older and America 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.
reviewed American Pastoral on + 75 more book reviews
This book is considered Roth's masterpiece, for which he earned the Pulitzer Prize.