It Can't Happen Here

It Can't Happen Here

Book - 2014
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A cautionary tale about the rise of fascism in the United States first published in 1935. During the presidential election of 1936, Doremus Jessup, a newspaper editor, observes with dismay that many of the people he knows support the candidacy of a fascist, Berzelius Windrip. When Windrip wins the election, he 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. Jessup opposes him, is captured, and escapes to Canada.
Publisher: New York : Signet Classics, [2014.]
ISBN: 9780451465641
0451465644
Characteristics: xv, 397 p. ; 19 cm

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EljayJohnson
Mar 09, 2020

The beginning of this book was rough going for me and for a moment I thought I wouldn't finish it (or it would take me a month to read). But it improved and I got used to it. The problem was that there were so many anecdotal topical references that I didn't have a clue about. Picture a novel written now that's read in 85 years and mentions Mayor Pete and bubble tea and Carrie Underwood and selfies and Chris Pratt and Khaleesi. I can imagine how bemused that future reader would be. Anyway, I gave up on figuring out all of the names and references (but I certainly loved the shade Lewis threw at Upton Sinclair!) and focused on this eerily prescient 1935 novel that more or less predicts our current political climate and the election of Trump. I am a fan of Lewis and have read and loved his big 5 (Main Street, Babbitt, Arrowsmith, Dodsworth, and Elmer Gantry) and this isn't near as good a novel as those, but it was a great political read. And the hero is a journalist named - of all things - Doremus Jessup, so who can't love that?

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larry_68
Sep 11, 2019

The same genre as "1984" and "The Handmaiden's Tale", this dystopian saga has many parallels to today's politics. A product of the depression era 1930s, the writing style is dated; however, it is important to understand how society can come under the spell of a movement that promises much but delivers nothing but grief. For this it is worth reading.

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vega6e
Jul 08, 2019

Written in the 30's a fictional story of how America becomes a fascist state. Many parallels to present day politics where the wealthy have way too much say in our government. It was not an easy read for me, as many of the characters are from that period. Sadly the book presents few solutions.

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Jul 02, 2019

Eerie reading. Published before WWII, this novel describes the rise to power of an authoritarian dictator in the United States. Not only was it prescient in it's description of authoritarianism in Europe in the subsequent decade, it also has stunning parallels to the present-day United States.

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SusyHendrix
Jun 21, 2019

It's sad how this book has dated very little in its political satire. It's a chilling book, but also darkly humorous. However, its characters are a bit too simple and its worldbuilding a bit too vague for me to put it beside dystopian classics like NINETEEN-EIGHTY-FOUR or BRAVE NEW WORLD.

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hamerkop
Jun 15, 2019

A prescient view for the mid 1930s, this novel has relevance for today as well. The march of the fascist movement is alive today and an almost mirror image of the situation in 1935 when this novel was first published. Like Orwell's "1984" it foresees a future that is all too apparent today. From the attacks on an independent news media, to a barrage of lies and false promises from the White House, this novel talks to contemporary America providing a warning to a complacent population that "It can happen here".

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vortizde
Apr 03, 2019

Continue page 74, end of chapter 9

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AaronAardvark1940
Aug 22, 2017

Perhaps because my parents were teenagers during the period covered by this book, I found it an easy read, almost a page-turner. Doremus Jessup and his friends are fleshed-out nicely, but one must remember that Lewis uses every character in this book as an archetype for some position or attitude. For instance, token Communist Karl Pascal is used to represent the fractured Left, forming circular firing squads, which is as accurate today as it was in the 1930s. Lewis has fun with the names he uses for his characters, poking at some of the well-known persons of his era. I learned that during the Great War, sauerkraut was referred to as “Liberty cabbage,” showing that “Freedom fries” used against the French during the Iraq invasion had a historical antecedent.
Commenters have compared Buzz Windrip’s campaign to Donald Trump’s, and I suppose that 2016 could be compared to the fictional 1936 quite easily. But Windrip understood the political game and had a significantly skilled management team, so there is no comparison between 2017 and the fictional 1937.

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AQUILEA777
Jul 31, 2017

I read this novel about forty years ago. It's very artificial, but not unreadably so. The same applies to Lewis's KINGSBLOOD ROYAL, an assault on racism. If Lewis were writing today, he would likely satirize big government regimentation and Supreme Court imposition of abortion and gay marriage against the will of the people expressed through their state legislatures. And he would surely be alarmed by the anti-Russian hysteria that Democrats are trying to fan in order to subvert the result of the 2016 election.

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mighty_mom
Jul 28, 2017

Amazingly prophetic story about an American president who leads the country down the path of fascism. This book was written in 1935 during the rise of Hitler and Mussolini. It's mostly seen thru the eyes of a newspaper editor, and gives an educational view of attitudes during the Depression. Communism and socialism are trying to take foothold in America as people look for scapegoats and solutions to the horrors of the Depression. The story is prophetic because of the parallels to the Trump administration. I gave it 4 stars because there were times it was too predictable, and other times when it appeared to be rushing thru events just to reach the end. Otherwise, a very prescient tale worth reading.

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Katmarier
Aug 18, 2016

Could a fascist regime take hold in America? This book shows exactly how it could happen here - and even though it was written in 1935, it still resonates today. Riveting plot with the motivations clearly (and insidiously) explained and made plausible.

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Katmarier
Aug 18, 2016

"He loved the people just as much as he feared and detested persons."

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