Roth's alternate history novel includes a number of real-life historical figures, most of whom are accurately presented, but one who is shown as quite different from his actual beliefs and actions. Roth also included his own family as characters, imagining them growing up in this alternate reality.
The most famous and accomplished aviator in US history was also a believer in anti Semitism, white supremacy, and eugenics. In real life, Lindbergh even carried out a bizarre personal experiment of having children with half a dozen women in the name of improving the white race. The novel imagines him signing non aggression pacts with Germany and Japan and then disappearing mysteriously, with his vice president becoming dictatorial.
Governor of and then Senator from Montana, Wheeler was a progressive who supported civil rights, labor rights, and unions and was opposed to war, censorship, and martial law. Roth's novel bizarrely imagines him as an opportunist Vice President who imposes martial law and removes Jews to the west of the US.
The auto maker was the most dedicated anti-Semite in the US in the 1930s. He publicly praised Hitler, was awarded a medal by him, and gave him a Sieg Heil salute. Ford used his factories to recruit Nazis and others on the far right, and he used his fortune to publish the Dearborn Independent, which was devoted entirely to promoting hatred of Jews. Everyone who bought a Ford received a free subscription to the paper. In Roth's novel, he becomes Secretary of the Interior.
Roth's novel also includes broadcaster Walter Winchell, Mayor of New York Fiorello Laguardia, and prominent Jewish leaders Bernard Baruch and Henry Morgenthau. All three were Democratic Party leaders in real life, but Roth's novel depicts them as imprisoned by Wheeler.
Roth re-imagines himself as a child at the time, his relatives and neighbors either removed to the west or fleeing to Canada to avoid the waves of anti-Semitic rioting in the US. The novel ends with Franklin Roosevelt elected in 1944 after Japan bombs Pearl Harbor—an ironic but unlikely outcome.