Do not open Philip Roth’s American Pastoral for lessons about business. That would be like opening a bottle of Château Lafite Rothschild to quench your thirst.
A tragedy of classical proportions about a profoundly decent businessman, this Pulitzer Prize–winning novel concerns itself with the durability of faith, the cost of dreams, and our inability to abolish our own vulnerability. These themes are embodied in characters as vivid as relatives, all of them enacting America’s wrenching history in the second half of the 20th century.
In American Pastoral, in other words, Roth — one of the great novelists of the past half-century — swings for the fences. Yet the book is also unmistakably a novel about business, one that doesn’t condemn its supposed evils but celebrates its marvels. In no other literary work are the joys and burdens, the relationships and rewards, the egotism and the self-denial of business leadership