Overview

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, ...
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It Can't Happen Here

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Overview

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.



With an Introduction by Michael Meyer

and a New Afterword
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Written in 1935, this political satire depicts the United States ruled by a President who slowly morphs into a dictator. It astonishingly mimics developments in Nazi Germany before they happened. The only other available edition is a $50 hardcover. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780698152700
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/7/2014
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 452,622
  • File size: 647 KB

Meet the Author


The son of a country doctor, Harry Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951) was born in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. His childhood and early youth were spent in the Midwest, and later he attended Yale University, where he was editor of the literary magazine. After graduating in 1907, he worked as a reporter and in editorial positions at various newspapers, magazines, and publishing houses from the East Coast to California. He was able to give this work up after a few of his stories had appeared in magazines and his first novel, Our Mr. Wrenn (1914), had been published. Main Street (1920) was his first really successful novel, and his reputation was secured by the publication of Babbitt (1922). Lewis was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Arrowsmith (1925) but refused to accept the honor, saying the prize was meant to go to a novel that celebrated the wholesomeness of American life, something his books did not do. He did accept, however, when in 1930 he became the first American writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. During the last part of his life, he spent a great deal of time in Europe and continued to write both novels and plays. In 1950, after completing his last novel, World So Wide (1951), he intended to take an extended tour but became ill and was forced to settle in Rome, where he spent some months working on his poems before dying.



Michael Meyer, PhD, a professor of English at the University of Connecticut, previously taught at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the College of William and Mary. His scholarly articles have appeared in such periodicals as American Literature, Studies in the American Renaissance, and Virginia Quarterly Review. An internationally recognized authority on Henry David Thoreau, he is a former president of the Thoreau Society and the coauthor of The New Thoreau Handbook, a standard reference. His first book, Several More Lives to Live: Thoreau’s Political Reputation in America, was awarded the Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize by the American Studies Association. In addition to The Bedford Introduction to Literature, his edited volumes include Frederick Douglass: The Narrative and Selected Writings.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 27 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(22)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

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1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2005

    Terrifying

    Sinclair Lewis in his typically sarcastic fashion crafts a tale of public complacency until it is too late. The rise of a dictatorship under the guise of national crisis is far too easily compared to the subtle loss of civil liberties we are experiencing in post-9/11 America. It leaves the modern reader with the question, 'So, who is going to start the revolution?'

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2005

    It May Be Happening Here

    On recently re-reading It Can't Happen Here, it occurred to me that many of the political restructurings and shenanagans that Lewis satired have actually taken place in recent U.S. history. Since 9/11, the current administration has created 'The Department of Homeland Security'; had it ever been suggested, Lewis might have even considered the D.H.S. himself as a titular umbrella to the fascist 'Corpos' and/or 'Minute Men' that he created in the 1935 novel. Further, Congress has actually passed the U.S. Patriot Act, federal legislation that may lead one to reflect on Buzz Windrip's 15 points from the novel. At the time the book was written, Mr. Hitler was rapidly on the rise in Germany. Now, we fear the potential expansionist policies of some or other Middle Eastern autocrat-go-international terrorist (e.g. Saddam Hussein). To those of us who dabble in writing, perhaps it is time for a new American political satire--one that integrates more current politico-economic phenomena into the weave. If any of us actually braves it, we would be hard-pressed to put out anything as timeless and on point as Lewis did with It Can't Happen Here. I cannot highly enough recommend a reading, or re-reading, as the case may be of this important 1935 novel. As you are reading, try to keep the actual events of the past several years in mind--in doing so, it will become all the more entertaining in its immaculate satiric prophecy.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2004

    Revolution As Seen By Rotarians

    Only a year after Hitler and the Nazis had reached power by constitutional means in Germany, Sinclair Lewis was writing IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE. Step by step, Lewis showed how a similar fascist takeover MIGHT VERY WELL HAPPEN HERE in the sober, God-fearing USA. First, an unscrupulous but popular western Senator might defeat Franklin Roosevelt for the Democratic Party nomination for president in 1936. He would then win the general election and within eight days cow Congress into giving him power to legislate by decree. Step by step campaign rhetoric gives way to lying, deceit, violence, concentration camps and torture. *** All this is observed and participated in by small town Vermont newspaper proprietor, Doremus Jessup, a principled man who stands up to the dictatorship at no little cost to himself and his family. *** This novel depicts American anti-semitism and anti-black racism as it might play into the hands of a native American dictator. IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE is also a study in political science and sociology. The novel shows how people in power instinctively reach out to personal cruelty and torture of their opponents. *** In 2004-2005 Rotarians around the world celebrate 100 years of Rotary. As in BABBITT and ELMER GANTRY, the author once again depicts American Rotary Clubs and Rotarians as typical, easily led business-class American, just the two-legged sheep to make dictators thinkable. *** Early on (1905 - 1940) Rotary and the other eleven major service club types were lambasted by serious literary opponents. In the United Kingdom George Bernard Shaw and G.K. Chesterton made fun of pretentious small-minded businessmen and of Rotarians' irreverent practice of calling their betters by their first names. In the United States Rotary and its brethren were notably savaged by two men working almost as a team, H.L. Mencken and Harry Sinclair Lewis. To both men a typical Rotarian businessman exemplified Mencken's 'boobus Americanus.' During his heyday (1920 - 1930) Sinclair Lewis made repeated fun of Rotary and other Booster clubs. *** Every word in Chapter One of IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE is about a Vermont Rotary Club meeting held not long before the 1936 presidential election. At the height of the campaign, the novel's hero confides to two friends who will never give up resisting the dictatorship, 'This is a revolution in terms of Rotary. '*** Readers who are Rotarians will therefore watch with bated breath as the various attendees of Chapter One's Ladies Night Dinner of the Fort Beulah Rotary Club react throughout 37 more increasingly terrible chapters to the rising bloody tyranny of America's first Great Dictator. ***

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    Digital version needs to be reformatted.

    Great story but the formatting for the Nook version is real shoddy. Sentences are broken so the type looks like experimental poetry and sometimes words are missing from the end of a line so you have to guess. If you can get past that you'll be rewarded with a novel that is equally funny and frightening.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    History Repeating Itself...

    I must sheepishly admit I'd never heard of this book until a month ago. Sinclair Lewis, however, is very well known and a national treasure.

    While "It Can't Happen Here" was originally written in the late 1930s, it is so completely relevant now.

    When reading this satirical look at the over-caffeinated chattering class of yesteryear, keep in mind the current characters: Fox News, Gingrich, Palin, Beck, McCain, C-Street, Boehner, Cornyn, Graham, Cantor, McConnell Bush, Cheney, Rove, etal!"

    It is absolutely bone-chilling to know that the current level of hyperbolic rhetoric was so accurately described nearly 90 years ago.

    Hold tight, and enjoy the ride

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2014

    Good Story...Too Much Detail

    This is an interesting story about what could happen to our country if the American voters elect a self proclaimed "savior" as president of the United States. For those of you who think our leaders are useless and terrible be thankful for it. We could end up with a President Windrip as head man in charge.

    The book itself is a very good read if you cab plod through all the tedious details. I almost stopped reading the book because I couldn't bear the tedium. I decided to read it in short spurts instead. It's much easier to bear that way. If you want to read the book, as I did, try to find an abridged version. You will probably be a lot happier.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    Great book

    It took awhile to get into. But once you got passed that it was great. You see how easy it could happen. I feel we are on the precipice right now. This should be in every school library and mandatory reading for all high school student.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2013

    Don't waste your money. Wait for it on Kindle

    Horrible, horrible format. Absolutely unreadable. A waste of $2.00. The only reason a gave it one star is because I could not give it zero.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2012

    Not a good edition to download

    The formatting was off. After working my way half way through, the book does not load at all.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 29, 2012

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    This book and it's message is just as important today, if not more so, as when it was first written.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2012

    H

    Im locked out.

    ——————————Flamepelt—————————

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    Heatherpaw

    Dust, if you ever need a place to stay, go to numb first result and tell heartstar Heatherpaw sent you. She'll understand.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2012

    Dust

    Gtg i have latin class tomorrow. I wont be on all day until nine because i also have youth and somethimg else.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2012

    ?

    ?- look in the first result.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2012

    Lilly

    Lilly pads next to him and aits down. Takes a bite. Yum.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2012

    Leafstorm

    Leagstorm~ so good.... *he said practicly in food coma xD*

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Terrifying

    Sinclair Lewis in his typically sarcastic fashion crafts a tale of public complacency until it is too late. The rise of a dictatorship under the guise of national crisis is far too easily compared to the subtle loss of civil liberties we are experiencing in post-9/11 America. It leaves the modern reader with the question, 'So, who is going to start the revolution?'

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 27, 2011

    All time classic

    One of the best books I have read in recent years. Kudos

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2004

    It's Happening NOW!

    I wandered into this little book and have loved every minute I've spent reading it! Doremus Jessup is my new hero -- a well-to-do New Englander in the '30s, with the sense to question the direction the country is taking. A must-read for folks who've been blind-sided in the last 4 years.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2001

    20th Century Classic

    Though not usually considered the best of Sinclair Lewis' works, I personally found this one the most riveting. We must keep in mind that although we have the greatest nation in the history of the world, it is possible for us to get turned upside down. This novel shows just how easy it could happen. Every bit as timely now as it was when written in the 30's.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews

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