It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"It can't happen here." That's what characters in this book keep saying, even as it very resoundingly happens here! "It" being a fascist presidential candidate winning the election and turning "here" (America) into a dictatorship.
Berzelius Windrip is one part cracker barrel philosopher, one part showman, and three parts baloney wrapped up in flags and bunting. (Sound like anyone in 2016?) Promising every (white, male, Christian) person five thousand dollars to get the economy going--the book came out in the mid 1930s--Windrip is elected over more reserved and conventional opposition. Before anyone can catch their breath, Windrip and his Cheney-like right hand man Lee Sarason have dissolved the Supreme Court, made Congress a mere puppet (by arresting dissenters) and turned loose their private army of "Minute Men", armed thugs wearing vintage blue uniforms who are big on parades and beating people up.
The story is told from the viewpoint of Doremus Jessup, a small town newspaper editor in his sixties, who begins the story with a family, a house, a dog named Foolish, and not too many worries. Before the end of the book (SPOILER ALERT), his son in law has been summarily executed, his newspaper has been taken over by government lackeys, and he has been thrown in a concentration camp for working with the New Underground against the fascist regime.
But why read an old book like this? After all, it can't happen here. Can it?
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