First published in 1935, when Americans were still largely oblivious to the rise of Hitler in Europe, this prescient novel tells a cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy and offers an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America.
Doremus Jessup, a newspaper editor, is dismayed to find that many of the people he knows support presidential candidate Berzelius Windrip. The suspiciously fascist Windrip is offering to save the nation from sex, crime, welfare cheats, and a liberal press. But after Windrip wins the election, dissent soon becomes dangerous for Jessup. Windrip forcibly gains control of Congress and the Supreme Court and, with the aid of his personal paramilitary storm troopers, turns the United States into a totalitarian state.
©1935 Sinclair Lewis. © renewed 1963 by Michael Lewis (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Though written in 1935 and inspired by the rise of Fascism in Europe this could read as a warning of what can happen when an unscrupulous demagogue takes on the Presidency of the USA.
It describes a similar kind of scenario as Philip Roths's The Plot against America.
Very good reader. Really captures the different characters and makes the story live.
Some sections dealing with the mistreatment of prisoners were hard to listen to but worth it in the end.
Though there are political and philosophic parts to this book it is never heavy or hard to listen to. Beautifully written.
"so scary "
this hits so close with the rises going on now. this man was right on the money.
"Sadly, a very timely book, and well done"
OK. I don't know how political book reviews are expected to be, but it is hard not to be political with a book like "It Can't Happen Here". I think there is a pretty obvious reason that Audible has been promoting this book, and it is because of their promotion of it that I selected it, so the topic did strike a nerve. The story takes place in the 1930s, with Mussolini and Hitler in the background in Europe, and the plot basically showing how it very well could happen in the US, how Americans can fall for a demagogue and elect him in a national democratic election, and he then proceeds to rule the country with all the trappings of a dictator - military police like the SS or Gestapo, concentration camps for political prisoners and other undesirables. Just as a certain Republican candidate for president today in the US, Windrip - the elected dictator - ran on a platform fomenting hatred (in his are towards Jews, African Americans, communists, intellectuals, liberals, etc.) was a misogynist, promised economic and social reform, a return to patriotism and traditional values, Yes, he was going to make American great again! While listening to the book, I found myself feeling troubled, not just because I am convinced that it could happen in the US, but because I considered what I would do if it did happen. Some people managed to escape to Canada. Some formed an underground. Most went along, thinking they could save their skin, or, too often, to get a position or job with this new government. I know I would not go along with it and I certainly wouldn't be duped by such a person (just as I am not now duped by such an obnoxious candidate that is running right now). But I'd probably bolt ASAP and not wait and give him a chance, as many people in the story do. The most troubling aspect is that just yesterday I saw this video on the NY Times website of uncensored vitriolic language and behavior from Trump supporters (oh, whoops, I named the candidate whom this book should make you wary of) at a Trump rally, and I said: those are the people that would become Trump's military police and have no compunction about beating Muslims, Mexican immigrants, or whoever is the scapegoat of choice, if they were just given the go-ahead (and even if not) by a new president. Listen to the book and then be sure to go vote. It's up to you not to let it happen.
I didn't give 5 stars because I did feel that there was not enough plot to make the book this long. The point was made, Lewis got his idea across, and it could have been more concise. The narrator was very good, but I generally save my 5* ratings for narrators who are so good that if they read me the phone book I'd still be enthralled. This narrator was not that.
"Everything that is just and true..."
Donald Trump was elected on Tuesday and today it's Saturday and I just finished this book. Why am I starting a book review off with this statement? The point is that even elected officials can ruin countries that were previously run on principles of truth and justice.
Numerous parts of this book made me feel so sad but even beyond sadness was a feeling of "grimness" because actions happening in the book have happened in our world in the not-too-distant-history. But our protagonist, Doremus Jessup, is an American "mensch" and he continues to stand for what is right and true and just despite the world around him sinking into a nationwide pit of injustice and social and moral degradation.
I was eager to get to the end of the book to see how such an overwhelming tale of evil could be neatly wrapped up and, SURPRISE! It wasn't neatly wrapped up. Nonetheless, it was uplifting-- so much so that I burst into tears and I'm still crying writing this review. Without revealing any "spoiler" info, I'll just say the final sentence of the book summed up everything about Doremus Jessup and men and women like him, through the centuries.
"The Rise of American Authoritarianism"
Written in 1935, Sinclair Lewis' novel follows newspaper man Doremus Jessup as he documents the rise of "Buzz" Windrip to the U.S. presidency. Windrip campaigns on an openly racist, misogynistic, and nationalistic platform promising to make Great Depression era America great again. Windrip's eventually beats FDR in the election and quickly turns the Presidency a violent dictatorship, creating a Nazi Germany clothed in red, white, and blue.
I won't get too political here, but it's not hard to see some similarities to modern times in this novel. Grover Gardner's voice is flawless for this sort of novel and fans of 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World will certainly find this story no less fascinating. This is true lost classic and possibly one of the most important novels Americans will ever read. Very highly recommended.
"perfect for this election year"
enthralling foreshadowing of today's politics. what goes around,... also a great lesson in freedom's fragility.
"Needed in the Age of Trump"
Lots of insights into how fascism would look in the US. even though it was written 80 years ago, much rings scarily true today. As a novel it us a bit rambling. could cut out a third of it without losing its punch. The narrator is quite good.
If you haven't read/listened to it, you should. Disturbing how it feels plucked from today's headlines. Chilling
"Scary and Relevant with Politics Today"
A big fan of Grover Gardner's reading style I felt he made the story lighter than it might otherwise have been. A satisfying listen all the way through.
The story itself has numerous parallels to modern day politics which some readers might find a bit depressing. My one criticism would be that the ending didn't feel very well thought out it ended a bit abruptly with no definitive resolution.
"It Can't Happen Here"
Excellent really makes you think - "it" really could happen here given the right circumstances.
"Eerily timely for 2016's Presidential campaign."
Even haunting. Once again, life imitates art. Reminds me of a quote I once heard, "Read good non-fiction for facts; read good fiction for truth."
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