It’s time for Book Review Club again and my choice this month is It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. I read the audiobook narrated by Grover Gardner.
Sinclair Lewis wrote It Can’t Happen Here about how facism could possibly come to the US in the 1930’s. In his tale, a populist demagogue, Senator Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, defeats Franklin Roosevelt for the Democratic nomination in 1936 and wins the general election over Republican Walt Trowbridge. Once in office, Buzz replaces our democratic republic with a corporate state and rules with a heavy hand, largely through his private army, the new Minute Men.
The main character is Doremus Jessup, a 60ish newspaper editor in Fort Beulah, Vermont, who opposes the regime, though quietly at first. Tragedy strikes when he goes public with his distaste for the “corpos” and he has to find a way to work underground. His nemesis is Shad LeDue who used to work (none too diligently) as the Jessup’s hired man. In the new regime Shad becomes the district commander of the MM’s.
While I found the book interesting, it is a little slow in places, but gets better toward the end. Though I found the ending unsatisfying, I understand that European fascism was a work in progress when Lewis was writing, and it wasn’t clear if or how it would all end. I enjoyed Grover Gardner’s narration. He did a good job of making the narrator sound like an old-time New Englander without going full nasal Down Easter.
Recommended for followers of current affairs. Authoritarianism seems to be making a comeback in various places around the world, and I found it interesting to compare Lewis’s vision of fascism with contemporary nationalism.
As always, click on the graphic below for more great reviews in Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club.
book review blogs