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.
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OK. I don't know how political book reviews are expected to be, but it is hard not to be political with a book like "It Can't Happen Here". I think there is a pretty obvious reason that Audible has been promoting this book, and it is because of their promotion of it that I selected it, so the topic did strike a nerve. The story takes place in the 1930s, with Mussolini and Hitler in the background in Europe, and the plot basically showing how it very well could happen in the US, how Americans can fall for a demagogue and elect him in a national democratic election, and he then proceeds to rule the country with all the trappings of a dictator - military police like the SS or Gestapo, concentration camps for political prisoners and other undesirables. Just as a certain Republican candidate for president today in the US, Windrip - the elected dictator - ran on a platform fomenting hatred (in his are towards Jews, African Americans, communists, intellectuals, liberals, etc.) was a misogynist, promised economic and social reform, a return to patriotism and traditional values, Yes, he was going to make American great again! While listening to the book, I found myself feeling troubled, not just because I am convinced that it could happen in the US, but because I considered what I would do if it did happen. Some people managed to escape to Canada. Some formed an underground. Most went along, thinking they could save their skin, or, too often, to get a position or job with this new government. I know I would not go along with it and I certainly wouldn't be duped by such a person (just as I am not now duped by such an obnoxious candidate that is running right now). But I'd probably bolt ASAP and not wait and give him a chance, as many people in the story do. The most troubling aspect is that just yesterday I saw this video on the NY Times website of uncensored vitriolic language and behavior from Trump supporters (oh, whoops, I named the candidate whom this book should make you wary of) at a Trump rally, and I said: those are the people that would become Trump's military police and have no compunction about beating Muslims, Mexican immigrants, or whoever is the scapegoat of choice, if they were just given the go-ahead (and even if not) by a new president. Listen to the book and then be sure to go vote. It's up to you not to let it happen. I didn't give 5 stars because I did feel that there was not enough plot to make the book this long. The point was made, Lewis got his idea across, and it could have been more concise. The narrator was very good, but I generally save my 5* ratings for narrators who are so good that if they read me the phone book I'd still be enthralled. This narrator was not that.