It Can't Happen Here (Signet Classics)

by Sinclair Lewis

Paperback, 2014


Checked out
Due 9/3/2018

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Signet (2014), Edition: Reprint, 416 pages


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.… (more)

Media reviews

“It Can’t Happen Here” is a work of dystopian fantasy, one man’s effort in the 1930s to imagine what it might look like if fascism came to America. At the time, the obvious specter was Adolf Hitler, whose rise to power in Germany provoked fears that men like the Louisiana senator Huey Long or the radio priest Charles Coughlin might accomplish a similar feat in the United States. Today, Lewis’s novel is making a comeback as an analogy for the Age of Trump.

User reviews

LibraryThing member jaygheiser
A disturbing book that recognizes tendencies which are still embedded in the American psyche. Totalitarianism doesn't come from the right or left--it is a response to fear. Politicians, journalists, and individuals who exaggerate risks and encourage fear and divisiveness are the true enemy of democracy.

Not exactly a literary masterpiece, but a good read nevertheless. The political and social message outweighs the prose.… (more)
LibraryThing member john257hopper
Gripping and, in places, quite graphically horrible alternate history where a populist demagogue becomes President in 1936 and turns the USA into a fascist state with concentration camps. I say history, but it was written in 1935 and must have made quite an impression at the time. In this alternate reality, Berzelius Windrip is selected as Democratic candidate over sitting President FDR and goes on to defeat the comparatively liberal Republican candidate. The repression starts quickly as soon as he is inaugurated and the central character Doremus Jessup, a newspaper editor, is forced into ever greater compromises and is eventually sent to a concentration camp. Very chilling and one interesting touch is the naïve enthusiasm of some Europeans for the new regime, echoing the real life naivety of some visiting Stalin's Soviet Union who saw only what they were allowed to or wanted to see. The ending is a little ambiguous - the regime looks about to collapse, but Doremus, now freed and disguised as a member of the Underground, has the authorities on his tail once again.… (more)
LibraryThing member Eyejaybee
What an extraordinary act of prescience from Sinclair Lewis. The blurb on the back of the recently re-issued Penguin edition offers this brief synopsis: ‘A vain, outlandish, anti-immigrant demagogue runs for President of the United States … and wins.’ Devastating topicality, all the more astounding when one realises that the book was published in 1935.

I had read a couple of Sinclair Lewis’s other novels ([Babbitt] and [Main Street]) but had never even heard of this one until I chanced upon a display of it in my local Waterstone’s and succumbed to an impulse buy. Like his other books, it has a dated feel (well, it is eighty years old) and I found the tone of the opening few pages rather off-putting. Once I got beyond them, though, I was hooked. The great charm of [Babbitt] was its celebration of the humdrum and ordinary, and that permeates this book as well, though here it is counterbalanced by the pellucid insight into the appetite and quest for power. The reader is guided through the startling events leading up to and then proceeding from the election of Buzz Windrip to the Presidency by Doremus Jessop, editor and columnist of the local newspaper in Fort Beulah, Vermont. Jessop is far from perfect, and has in his time subscribed to number of political inclinations, ending up in middle age as a wise, benign and liberal man, concerned at the threat to prevailing social mores while also hoping for a more equitable world.

Buzz Windrip is appalling, but all too plausible, and emerges fully formed into the political scene as America struggles to set the Depression behind her while striving to avoid further entanglement in the political and military crises looming in Europe as fascist dictators spring up seemingly everywhere. Throughout the Presidential campaign numerous commentators compare Windrip with Hitler, Mussolini and Franco, to be met wth the constant refrain of, ‘It can’t happen here’, until, of course, it does.

Lewis writes in a simple, clear style, and excels in his portraits of middle class life in rural America. He captures the divisions that gradually affect the community of Fort Beulah as the campaign nears its conclusion perfectly. Even eighty years on, I felt I knew these people and could see how and why they formulated their opinions. It almost felt like talking to my colleagues now.
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LibraryThing member seth_g
We're a decade into the 21st century, and the increasing control of big banks and big corporations over all aspects of daily life, mixed with a political populism that appeals to all that's worst in the citizenry, is the stuff of nightmares. It's not the first time this particular nightmare has troubled the sleep of those who value the social compact that emerged in the past century.

In 1935, Sinclair Lewis, first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1930), published a dystopian classic that is little read or remembered today. It should be. It Can't Happen Here, of course, posits that it can happen here, and more easily than we'd like to think.

The bugbears of the tale are Communists (which we didn't get over until 1989) and Liberals, which are still regarded as traitors by those who refuse to accept the legitimacy of any Democrat in the White House. And the populists--with their emphasis on corporate sovereignty, their lip service to Main Street, their obsession with guns, and their demands for the invasion of Mexico--don't seem dated at all. They call themselves the Corpos, but they're really just a tea party.

We follow a small-town everyman, a newspaper editor who loses his paper to the propagandists, his freedom to totalitarian courts, and his self-respect to the bullies of every stripe. It's a dark tale that is leavened with the ironic humor Lewis puts in the mouth of his characters. And it is startlingly prescient: Lewis knew just where Hitler and Mussolini were headed. And where I sometimes feel we're headed today because, of course, it can't happen here.
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LibraryThing member reenum
Before November 2016, this book would have read like an alarmist dystopian fantasy. Instead, this book shows us what would happen if the Trump administration was allowed to do everything they want to do. It is a reminder of what can happen when democratic norms erode.

Berzelius Windrip is Donald Trump if he was minimally competent. The fact that Trump is such a bumbling dope is all that separates us from the reality in this book. The Windrip platform points listed in one of the early chapters sound a lot like the policy proposals I read on Trump's campaign website before the election.

The ending of the book gives some grudging hope that if Trump goes too far, somebody will act to stop him.

This book is important, but also depressing given current events.

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LibraryThing member jwhenderson
Sinclair Lewis, the first American to receive the Nobel Prize For Literature, wrote a form of naturalistic satire that at its best (see Main Street, Babbit, or Arrowsmith) was worthy of the accolades that he received. This satirical political novel was written in 1935 after he had already published fifteen novels. It was a time when the United States and Western Europe had been in a depression for six years and Lewis asked the question – what if some ambitious politician would use the 1936 presidential election to make himself dictator by promising quick, gimmicky solutions to the depression.

The protagonist of the story is Doremus Jessup, a small-town newspaper editor in Vermont. Doremus struggles for a year with the new government’s attempts to censor his paper and ultimately ends up in a concentration camp. When he escapes from the concentration camp, he finds himself part of the resistance movement because that is all there is left for him to do. He blames himself for the failed revolution because he did not take Buzz Windrip more seriously when there was still a chance to stop him.

While Doremus Jessup is a generic character, the identity of Buzz Windrip, the power-hungry senator who makes himself dictator, would be obvious to any American in 1935. Parallels are made in his dictatorial control of his own unnamed state with someone who many critics consider to be a reference to Huey Long, who was preparing to run for president when the novel was being written.
The identity of the main ally of the fictional dictator would be equally obvious, Bishop Peter Paul Prang, the popular radio preacher who endorses Buzz Windrip’s campaign, is based on Father Charles Coughlin, the most popular radio speaker of the thirties who had a weekly program on which he denounced President Roosevelt and the Jews for causing and perpetuating the depression. (In his novel, Lewis foresees that TV would have even greater propaganda potential than the radio – this fictional dictator introduces mass coast-to-coast TV broadcasting in 1937 - something that did not happen in reality until 1948.) In the real world President Roosevelt used the radio in a similar way and exerted censorship via his political control over the FCC which held the major networks in thrall through licensing requirements.

Meanwhile Windrip defeats Roosevelt for the democratic party presidential nomination, and after winning the election, establishes a dictatorship with the help of a small group of cronies and a ruthless paramilitary force. Although the fictional dictator Windrip ran for President as a Democrat, any implied attack on Hitler’s Germany was seen as Democratic party propaganda in 1935, since Jews, Hitler’s enemies, mostly voted Democrat. Any discussion of the politics of It Can’t Happen Here should keep in mind that Sinclair Lewis, the author, was a political liberal who toyed with the left wing for a while in his youth. In his novel, Lewis's satire was a confused and over-the-top mixture buffooning small town conservatism with progressive politics. The populist Windrip was both anti-semitic and anti-Negro among other views that could best be described as an irrational hodge-podge with no apparent ideological foundation.

Doremus Jessup, is a moderate Republican newspaper editor whose motto is: "Blessed are those who don’t think they have to go out and Do Something About It!" But then Jessup, like his creator Sinclair Lewis is plunged into the chaos of the Depression, when American society seemed to be falling apart. When Americans looked for solutions to the Depression, the great majority went no further than the progressive platform of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. But for many, these changes were not effective and they looked for something more drastic. Lewis believed that most of those who wanted more radical solutions would not turn to the small American left wing, but elsewhere.

It Can’t Happen Here is not a revolutionary book. It is speculative fiction that posits the rise of fascism in the United States during the 1930s, an eventuality that many people felt couldn't happen here, and so were not on guard against. Lewis's prose is stuffed with florid description and turgid prose, dating the novel and making it hard to plod through. While some of the statements made by many characters seem prescient in that they could be spoken by any political hack today, many of the novel's assertions strain belief, so that I wasn't entirely convinced that it could "happen here". However, in spite of this I still consider It Can't Happen Here to be a noteworthy example of dystopic alternative history.
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LibraryThing member usnmm2
Should be required reading in all high schools.
What if FDR was defated in his 2nd term and a fascist was elected. That's what this story is about. What makes it so good is that in the thirties there was a very strong fascist movement in this country, and they were very powerful.
LibraryThing member LydiaHD
I read this book, about a fascist takeover in the US, back in the 70's or 80's and thought: "This is silly. It could never happen." I re-read it in early 2006 and thought, "I'm not so sure." Likewise, 20 or 30 years ago I thought a lot of the characters were cartoonish; now I know people like them.
LibraryThing member GTTexas
Excellent! Some things never seem to change, including people and politics.
LibraryThing member tloeffler
A precursor to Philip Roth's "Plot Against America," Lewis wrote this book in 1935 to show the dangers of Fascism coming to the United States. The story takes place between 1936 and 1939. Berzelius Windrip, presidential candidate, is hOhio. Windrip's candidacy is based on his 15 Points, one of which is that every family will receive $5000 a year (or so it seems). This blinds the populace to the remaining 14 points, which include taking the vote away from women and Negroes, and constitutional amendments to give all power to the President, with Congress and the Supreme Court working only in advisory capacities. Windrip is elected, and things immediately change. Jessup and a few of his friends try to stem the tide, but it's too little, too late, and what happens next is just not as far-fetched as one might think. Parts of the book still ring true for our current times (see reactions to 9/11). A very interesting book, and just a little bit scary...… (more)
LibraryThing member wrichard
Fascism in America- no just a strong president called Buzz!
LibraryThing member Devil_llama
Lewis's depression era classic is, like many of his other works, lengthy and somewhat turgid prose, filled with a veritable stable of stock characters and broad stereotypes; the main character, however, is much more nuanced and richly drawn, and one suspects he is writing a reflective character here. Although it is filled with a great deal of unnecessary verbiage and more description than is required to get the piece across, the work still has a great deal of merit as a slice of Americana and a look at what could happen (still could). In fact, one begins to suspect the Tea Party read this, and misinterpreted it as an instruction manual. A very important book, especially for anyone who claims to believe such things can't happen here. The only problem is that the broad nature of his characters, the fact that they are basic stereotypes, probably prevented, andn would still prevent, many individuals from recognizing themselves, allowing them to shrug and say, "yes, but it can't happen here".… (more)
LibraryThing member rampaginglibrarian
" Sinclair Lewis, the first American to receive the Nobel Prize For Literature, wrote this satirical political novel in 1935, a time when the United States and Western Europe had been in a depression for six years. In this novel, Sinclair Lewis asks the question – what if some ambitious politician would use the 1936 presidential election to make himself dictator by promising quick, easy solutions to the depression - just as Hitler had done in Germany in 1933."
As frightening and politically current today as it was then...
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LibraryThing member sturlington
This classic novel speculates on the rise of fascism in the United States during the 1930s, an eventuality that many people felt couldn't happen here, and so were not on guard against. A populist U.S. senator defeats FDR for the presidential nomination, and after winning the election, establishes a dictatorship with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force. Many critics consider the senator character to be a reference to Huey Long, who was preparing to run for president when the novel was published. Lewis's prose is stuffed with florid description and turgid prose, dating the novel and making it hard to plod through (in fact, I didn't get all the way through before giving up). While some of the statements made by many characters seem prescient in that they could be spoken by any Tea Partier today, some of the novel's assertions strain belief, so that I wasn't entirely convinced that it could happen here. This is still a noteworthy early dystopia/alternate history. Didn't finish (2013).… (more)
LibraryThing member CapitalHackels
In 1936, FDR is defeated in the election by Berzelius Windrip, a demagogue Senator that swoops into office on a flying carpet of grandiose promises. However, Windrip dismantles the democratic engine of the USA, and proclaims himself dictator, setting up a American Fascist state similar to Italy and Germany. By 1937, has ended poverty, crime, unemployment, homelessness, and has bolstered American defenses, but at a high cost. His storm troopers march the streets, government sponsored hoodlums crack down on dissenters, secret police spy on the common man, and the Feds control everything from tax collection to the manufacture of printing presses. In his efforts to “preserve good old American Values”, Windrip revokes nearly every freedom America had known. Don’t worry, there is a happy ending, I think.
The author of classics such as Babbitt and Arrowsmith, Lewis has more literary talent than contemporary writers, with a massive vocabulary to match. In this novel, Lewis departs from his usual formula of satire, instead writing a work of caution. Predating World War II by about four years, Lewis prognosticates a brewing war, the desperate politics of the Thirties, and the eventual fall of Fascist governments from within. Windrip rises to power using all the traps that worked for Mussolini and Hitler, and maintains his power in the manner. Lewis manages to write about Fascism with incredible hindsight, as if he could see them from fifty years in the future. And the whole plot is dangerously and horrifically possible. It is a shocking reminder to how close our country could have fallen into despotic oblivion. This novel isn’t just for political scholars and history majors, but for all Americans to read. It Can’t Happen Here is a monument, reminding us that with liberty and freedom comes the vigilance needed to prevent the system from collapsing from within. It rings true in light of the events of September 11th, but in indirect ways. God Bless America!
VERDICT: 7 / 10

(written February 2002)
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LibraryThing member Tanya-dogearedcopy
07AUG2016 - Written in 1937, this is a novel of alternate history in which the American populace elects Buzz Windrup into office, and ushers in an era of fascism. Every thing in the story has a reason for being there, i.e. it's all to illustrate a point. The didactic style doesn't make it the easiest of reads; but the story itself is compelling as it follows a newspaper editor who, while not voting for Windrup, was guilty of being rather complacent in thinking that whatever was happening in Germany and Italy couldn't possibly happen here in the USA.

14AUG2016 - Lewis' wife was Dorothy Thompson, was a journalist who accurately reported, to an incredulous American audience, what was going on in Germany during the rise of Nazism. Lewis himself turned away from the popular satires he had been known for to write this alternate history of the US in which Roosevelt loses the election to a fascist. The didactic style and serious message(s) don't make this an easy read; but it's one that makes you think regardless of your political affiliation. Read the Introduction by Michael Meyer afterward (if you are the type to read intros at all) as it's a bit spoilerific; and be prepared to set some time aside when you're done with the whole thing for some self-assessment - especially if you like to engage online over political topics. Highly recommend as being relevant to today's political landscape.
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LibraryThing member bobbieharv
I never would have read this book if it were not for the current horrifying state of political affairs in the US. It was a long slog, as one reviewer said, and I was surprised at how turgid (stealing from another reviewer) the writing was. Dated, stilted language - it seemed as though he was trying to get the slang of the 30s down, but the dialogue just didn't sound natural. And with a demagogue/dictator elected President, you'd think there would have been more of a plot, but it was just boring. And, to pile on, the torture scenes seemed gratuitous.

It's too bad. A more nuanced approach could have shed some light on what IS happening here now.
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LibraryThing member john257hopper
This is a a re-read of this now famous novel written in the mid 1930s, depicting the election of a nationalist demagogue, Senator Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, as President of the USA in the then upcoming 1936 election (he is from the Democratic Party and beats sitting President FDR to win the nomination). The author wrote it in the summer of 1935, in response to the growing fascist threats he saw all around, both in the USA and in Europe. It was praised in the New Yorker as ‘one of the most important books ever produced in this country’ and became a national bestseller and was also made into a popular play. The novel was based quite largely on the career of populist Democratic Louisiana governor, senator and would be presidential candidate Huey Long, but is now seen as a precursor of the election of Donald Trump. This is true up to a point - Windrip is described as "vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his “ideas” almost idiotic", characteristics that many, including myself, would see as embodied in the current US President. Windrip is elected in an election that divides families, including that of the main character, local newspaper editor Doremus Jessup, in the words of one character: "Oh, my dears, this beastly election! Beastly! Seems as if it’s breaking up every town, every home ….".

Windrip's main selling point is his promise to give every American family $5,000 (a lot of money in 1936) to spend as they like, but the more sinister planks of his election platform include an enabling act transforming Congress from a legislative assembly to merely an advisory body to the President and suspending the right of the Supreme Court to challenge any acts of the Executive; and reducing Negroes/African Americans back to an inferior status. Windrip's rule is one of brutal fascist dictatorship (a "Corpo" government, as it is called), with concentration camps, arbitrary arrests (including of Congressmen opposing his enabling act) and brutal oppression carried out by his armed militia, the Minute Men (formed before his nomination as marching bands and armed only after his inauguration); with institutions such as trade unions and employers' associations incorporated into the state in the way they were in both fascist and Communist totalitarian societies. Mercifully, this is where the novel diverges from current reality, where American judges have opposed President Trump's travel bans for example, and the real constitutional checks and balances have been able thus far to stop any tendency Trump might have to act in real life as a Windrip-like dictator (and in any case, appalling though I think he is, Trump is no fascist). The hero Jessup is eventually arrested and sent to a concentration camp, where he is treated brutally, but from which he later escapes. The novel ends on an upbeat note - Windrip and his main henchman have been overthrown and the replacement dictator's rule is crumbling as he tries to incite war with Mexico by fabricating border skirmishes, while a freed Jessup is working for the New Underground resistance operating out of Canada. This is a very important, gripping and dramatic novel that serves as a warning that liberal democracy should be defended from totalitarian tendencies from both right and left of the political spectrum; in Jessup's own words, "he saw now that he must remain alone, a “Liberal,” scorned by all the noisier prophets for refusing to be a willing cat for the busy monkeys of either side. But at worst, the Liberals, the Tolerant, might in the long run preserve some of the arts of civilization, no matter which brand of tyranny should finally dominate the world". 5/5
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LibraryThing member dickmanikowski
While I read several of Sinclair Lewis's novels years ago, I had never even heard of this one until it was mentioned in one of the dozens of stories I've read about Trumpmania. IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE is the story of a really folksy populist politician who manages to secure the 1932 Democratic nomination (besting "Frank" Roosevelt) and then handily winning the presidential race. Upon taking office, the new president (Buzz Windrip) starts implementing the 15 plank platform that so endeared him with his supporters. With the assistance of his top-level confederates and the militia he had created during his campaign, he quickly establishes an increasingly fascistic dictatorship.
The novel focuses on the editor of a small town newspaper in New England who ultimately becomes part of the resistance movement. While the plot is interesting, this is a long, long, long read.
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LibraryThing member ocgreg34
With the debates being at the forefront of the news, though, I decided to finally read my copy of Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here", his glimpse into what life in 1930s America might be like should a political figure the likes of Hitler somehow be voted into the highest office in the United States.

The "hero", if you will, of the story is Doremus Jessup, a newspaperman by profession who follows the political rise of Berzelius Windrip. His rise to the presidency begins with radio broadcasts supporting him from a prominent radio evangelist, along with speeches crated to make Windrip appear as a true man of the people, wanting the same things as the common worker; Doremus and his group of friends listen in astonishment as Windrip's popularity grows. But when Windrip wins the election, his changes are swift, and America finds itself confronted with the same ideals as those that rushed through Germany only a few years before -- though Windrip and his cabinet called them by other names, trying to distance themselves from any correlation to those politics.

With the new era of governmental control of the United States, state borders are redrawn, freedom of speech is censored, a new "army of the common man" comes into being to enforce the new laws and policies (though it's peopled with thugs and criminals and lowlifes). The years slowly move forward, with average people being thrown into concentration camp-like institutions, with the majority of citizens out of work, but Doremus and a few others finally decided to take a stand against Windrip and his dictatorship.

"It Can't Happen Here" is a very dark and sobering novel, and in the political climate of today, I couldn't help but draw comparisons to the way events are shaping up in 2012. I find it amazing how something written almost 100 years ago can hold such relevance today, even though it's fictional. But great fiction always dares to ask the "what if..." questions, which makes this an incredible -- and sometimes scary -- book to read.
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LibraryThing member defrog
His 1935 novel that imagines what it would take to establish a Fascist dictatorship in the USA. It’s horrifying and thought-provoking, and should be required reading in any political science class. It’s also admittedly a bit hard to swallow, since it’s hard to imagine that Americans would stand for the violence dealt out by the paramilitary Minute Men (Lewis’ American equivalent of the Brown Shirts) against people who criticize the President. On the other hand, we were more violent and corrupt and racist then. We volunteered for wars back in those days. And mass media was a lot easier to control in 1935.

So could it happen here? Probably not the way Lewis describes it. A Hitler/Mussolini/Franco/Stalin-style dictatorship with single state political parties, state media control, concentration camps and corrupt thugs using police power to settle scores and arrest anyone who dares criticize Glorious Leader is unlikely, if for no other reason that, unlike people in 1935, we have the aftermath of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and Stalin as warning posts. On the other hand, does it have to look like Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia to qualify as Fascism, or a dictatorship?
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LibraryThing member beyerkat
Terrifying given today's political climate.
LibraryThing member ghr4
In the wake of the 2016 presidential campaign, the shocking electoral result, and the frightening first few weeks of the new administration, Sinclair Lewis's remarkably prescient 1935 novel It Can't Happen Here has never been more noteworthy. In this work of alternate history, Senator Buzz Windrip, a flamboyant populist/anti-establishment demagogue receives the 1936 Democratic nomination over FDR and wins the presidency. So begins the de-evolution of the United States and its political and social norms and conventions into a ruthless dictatorship. The unfolding nightmare and descent into depravity is viewed through the eyes of the townspeople of bucolic Fort Beulah, Vermont, particularly Doremus Jessup, the idealistic editor of the local newspaper, The Daily Informer.

While this is not an easy or pleasant read, given Lewis's halting and often uneven literary style and the lurid descriptions of brutality, it is an important and timely work. It is fascinating to note the similarities to our present day situation, especially regarding the elements of Windrip's populist message. And of particular note is the character of Lee Sarason, the satanic chief consultant who is the brain behind the mask and bellowing voice of Windrip.

In D.J. Dooley's 1967 literary criticism The Art of Sinclair Lewis, the author is haughtily dismissive of the book: "It is all too fantastic; it could convince only those already convinced, and to anyone else its improbabilities would be reassuring evidence that there was nothing to worry about... the story is in the realm of fairyland. Lewis can't fool us; these ogres aren't real; it can't happen here."

Dooley is mistaken. It can happen here.
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LibraryThing member Kristelh
A novel published in 1935 by Minnesotan author Sinclair Lewis. This novel is a political novel and a satire has had a recent rise in popularity as some have liked to compare this to the current administration. Really, this book was written in 1935 when fascism was on the rise and it explores what it would be like if the US had a fascist government and how that might come happen. The story itself is interesting alternate history, satire.
"Written as two very different populists rose to power — Louisiana Senator Huey Long in the U.S. and Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany — the semi-satirical novel imagines a Democratic U.S. Senator, Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, appealing to nativists in order to successfully secure the party nomination over Franklin Delano Roosevelt." From Times magazine. BY OLIVIA B. WAXMAN
NOVEMBER 16, 2016

I am not much for reading political novels but over all this was an entertaining story and if you really read it, you will see that it doesn't matter, which side your on, politicians make promises that they don't keep and I don't think it is a given that people who have traditional values and patriotism are bad people and I don't think it is nice to call people who don't agree with your own political viewpoints names such as fascist. Nor are all socialist good and wonderful people without selfish ambition. Never the less, the current social and political times gave this book a second life. Also the author being a Minnesotan, Minnesota had a lot of honorable mentions throughout the book. Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1930, the first American novelist to be so honored.

Here is blurb from Penguin "It Can’t Happen Here is the only one of Sinclair Lewis’s later novels to match the power of Main Street, Babbitt, and Arrowsmith. A cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, it is an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America.
Written during the Great Depression, when the country was largely oblivious to Hitler’s aggression, it juxtaposes sharp political satire with the chillingly realistic rise of a president who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, sex, crime, and a liberal press. Called “a message to thinking Americans” by the Springfield Republican when it was published in 1935, It Can’t Happen Here is a shockingly prescient novel that remains as fresh and contemporary as today’s news."

It reminds me of The Iron Heel, The Jungle, and The Plot Against America.

Rating 3.83
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LibraryThing member benuathanasia
Well...this is familiar. It was eerie how easily the dictatorship fell into place and I could see this (reasonably easily) happen today.
As to the story itself, the writing wasn't as dense and disjointed as Lewis's more famous work - The Jungle. The characters were well developed and multi-faceted. The prose was poetic in places.
A good read.
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416 p.; 4.25 inches


0451465644 / 9780451465641


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