American Pastoral (1997) is the twenty-second book by Philip Roth, one of the leading twentieth-century American writers. This long novel, which is almost mythic in scope, explores the course of American history from the late 1940s, which Roth’s narrator and alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, regards as a golden period, to the social upheavals that marked the 1960s and early 1970s. The focal point of the story is a Jewish character called Swede Levov, an outstanding man in every respect—brilliant athlete, successful businessman, devoted husband and father—whose only goal is to live a tranquil, pastoral life in rural Old Rimrock, New Jersey. But his rebellious sixteen-year-old daughter, Merry, gets caught up in the anti-Vietnam War movement and plants a bomb at the local post office, killing one person. Swede’s idyllic life is shattered forever, and for the rest of his life, as the novel zigzags its way back and forth in time, Swede tries without success to understand what went wrong. How could such a thing have happened? In his searching examination of how confident, post-World War II America gave way to the violence and disorder of the 1960s, Roth explores, with depth, understanding, and compassion, issues such as the nature of community and belonging, Jewish assimilation, father-daughter relations, familial loyalty and betrayal, and political fanaticism.