It Can't Happen Here

It Can't Happen Here

Book - 1963
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"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."--Online description.
Publisher: New York, NY, U.S.A. : Signet Classic, 1963, c1935.
ISBN: 9780451465641
Call Number: LEWIS
Characteristics: xv, 381 pages ; 18 cm.
Subjects: Dictators -- United States -- Fiction.
Fascism -- Fiction.
United States -- Politics and government -- Fiction.


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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.

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.

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".

Apr 03, 2019

Continue page 74, end of chapter 9

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.

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.

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.

Apr 09, 2017

If it weren’t for the events of today in the U.S., this 1930’s political satire would be all but forgotten. However, the fascinating similarities in the rise of fictitious fascist populist Buzz Windrip makes you realize that the more things change the more they stay the same. Topical references of the day and the formal writing style do make reading this book sometimes difficult and tedious, but Lewis’ command of language rewards the patient reader with some delightful paragraphs of sly, dry, and wry humour and piercing observations of human nature. The characters who support Windrip are aptly and hilariously named: Dr. Hector Macgoblin, patriot singer and rotary club member Mrs. Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch, Senator Porkwood (the new Attorney General), Bishop Paul Peter Prang, and the League of Forgotten Men. On the other hand, the denigrating attitudes of that time to “Negroes” and “Jews” are jarring and distasteful. One is left despairing of the follies of the human race. It was H.L. Mencken who said in his newspaper column in 1920: “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

Apr 08, 2017

It is difficult to read through this book and not just because it was written long ago.

However, it is worth trying to read it... whole passages can be lifted and applied to Trump and his campaign for the White House. That is probably the only reason to give this book a chance.

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough stolen moments to get through this one before the due date.

I sped read the last part to see things go from bad to worse with underground political activism, etc.

I strongly suspect very few of the 85 OPL patrons waiting to read this book (April 2017) will finish it. Some won't even try after a few chapters. Just read the previous comment for insight.

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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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Aug 18, 2016

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


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