It Can’t Happen Here [The Novel that tells you what will happen to your family if America gets a Dictator].
4th Reprint of the 1939 Edition (with the rare dustjacket). New York, Triangle Books, 1941. Octavo. 458 pages. Original publisher’s Hardcover with the rare, illustrated dustjacket, including the rear flap with the photograph of an idyllic american living-room secenery. In protective Mylar. From the private library of Walter Blake, with his personal stamp to the titlepage. In excellent condition with only minor signs of wear. The dustjacket extremely scarce in this condition.
It Can’t Happen Here is a 1935 dystopian political novel by American author Sinclair Lewis. It describes the rise of a US dictator similar to how Adolf Hitler gained power. The novel was adapted into a play by Lewis and John C. Moffitt in 1936.
The novel was published during the heyday of fascism in Europe, which was reported on by Dorothy Thompson, Lewis’s wife. The novel describes the rise of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a demagogue who is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and traditional values. After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government via self-coup and imposes totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of European fascists such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. The novel’s plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion.
Reviewers at the time, and historians and literary critics ever since, have emphasized the resemblance to Louisiana politician Huey Long, who used strong-arm political tactics and who was building a nationwide “Share Our Wealth” organization in preparing to run for president in the 1936 election. Long was assassinated in 1935 just prior to the novel’s publication.
According to Boulard (1998), “the most chilling and uncanny treatment of Huey by a writer came with Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here”. Lewis portrayed a genuine U.S. dictator on the Hitler model. Starting in 1936, the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal agency, performed the stage adaptation across the country; Lewis had the goal of hurting Long’s chances in the 1936 election.
Keith Perry argues that the key weakness of the novel is not that he decks out U.S. politicians with sinister European touches, but that he finally conceives of fascism and totalitarianism in terms of traditional U.S. political models rather than seeing them as introducing a new kind of society and a new kind of regime. Windrip is less a Nazi than a con-man-plus-Rotarian, a manipulator who knows how to appeal to people’s desperation, but neither he nor his followers are in the grip of the kind of world-transforming ideology like Hitler’s Nazism. (Wikipedia)