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Taft 2012: A Novel Paperback – January 17, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books; First Printing edition (January 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594745501
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594745508
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“...Taft 2012 aims at a range of targets rivaling Mark Twain’s The Gilded Age...”— Newburyport News

“...this Rip Van Winkle tale is fresh and funny, a fast and purely enjoyable read that could not come at a better time.”—Buffalo News

“William Howard Taft, the 27th president of the United States, reappears in present day and creates political chaos in Jason Heller's charming and funny debut novel, Taft 2012...In Taft 2012, Heller takes someone forgotten in history and makes him relevant. The juxtaposition with the modern world and how the U.S. views politics today creates a marvelous satire that rings all too true.”—Associated Press
“In a stirring, clever and fearlessly funny debut novel, Jason Heller explores this anachronism with biting satirical deviousness. For a work of such brevity, Taft 2012 manages to say more about modern American politics than most major pundits could ever hope to, and it does it while eliciting a giggle on nearly every page...Taft 2012 is a brave, addictive book from a witty new voice in American fiction. Once you’ve started to read it, you won’t want to stop, and by the time you’ve finished, you’ll be wishing you could vote for its hero.”—BookPage.com

"Debut novelist Heller sets up his satire so well that one might doubt one’s grasp of presidential history!...[a] strong and thoughtful political exploration" —Library Journal

"Heller tells his imaginative story with tweets and TV transcripts as well as conventional expository prose, adding to the amusement of a cross-generational look at politics."—Booklist 

“…a stellar debut…”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Heller is a brilliant writer with a fantastic imagination and a nose for hot topics.”—303Magazine.com

“The novel is a fun read, and even the most casual of political observers will enjoy watching Taft's new political career play out. But don't delve into it on an empty stomach. Taft doesn't go hungry no matter what century it is.”—Scripps Howard News Service

“...[a] lean, gripping book...”—Asbury Park Press

About the Author

Jason Heller is an American culture journalist whose work appears in The A.V. Club, Village Voice Media, Alternative Press, Tor.com, Weird Tales. Taft 2012 is his first novel. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

More About the Author

Jason Heller is an author and Hugo Award-winning editor whose work has appeared in dozens of publications, including The A.V. Club (where he was the Denver City Editor from 2006-2009 and is currently a Senior Writer), Clarkesworld Magazine (where he served as the Hugo-winning nonfiction editor), Pitchfork, NPR.org, Alternative Press, Decibel Magazine, Weird Tales, Tor.com, and Westword (as well as many other papers in the Village Voice Media chain). In addition, he contributed to Scribner's A.V. Club book, Inventory. He's a 2009 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop, and his science fiction/fantasy/horror short stories have appeared in Apex Magazine, Sybil's Garage, Farrago's Wainscot, M-Brane SF, and many more. Quirk Books published his Pirates of the Caribbean tie-in, The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook, as well as his debut novel, Taft 2012. He also appears in the Tor Books anthology The Time Traveller's Almanac, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. He lives in Denver with his beloved wife and neglected guitars.

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Customer Reviews

This is an amazingly fun book to read and I highly recommend it.
The novel does not work as satire or as social commentary, or even as a novel.
I wanted to like this book; desperately wanted to like this book!
Francis U.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By rgregg VINE VOICE on January 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
William Howard Taft's presidency was wedged between that of Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson and he became one of the forgotten leaders of the USA.
Jason Heller manages to inform the reader of what Taft's leadership was all about, tickle the funny bone and make some critical points of how politics is changing and the influences both positive and negative on this country's leaders.
Taft becomes a modern day Rip Van Winkle when he wakes up 100 years after the day he is to hand off the Presidency to Woodrow Wilson to find himself in the dizzying era of 2012. The only links he has to the past are his great granddaughter who is a current congresswoman and an elderly lady in a nursing home who has a tentative connection to him but plays a key role in this novel.
As Taft tries to sort through the technology of today while expressing his strong belief in his expectations of yesterday, he finds himself becoming a hot celebrity with his own "Tea Party" type group of followers who think that his style may be what this country needs at this time. He suddenly finds himself torn between his principles and ambition. One learns so much about why Taft became President in the first place and why he walked away from his job after a single term in office. Do the principles of 1912 make any sense in 2012? Heller provides some fascinating perspective while not making his book too heavy.
Heller has a lot of fun dealing with Taft's physical size and eating habits. In fact, food is major element in the plot line of this story. Taft is accompanied and befriended by a Secret Service agent who actually shoots him in the beginning of the novel thinking he is an intruder in the White House. Their relationship as they become "road buddies" is charming as they explore bars, booze and music together.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on December 22, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Defeated in his 1912 re-election bid, William Howard Taft falls asleep en route to President-elect Wilson's inauguration and wakes up in November of 2011 in time to barge into an Obama press conference. This unlikely and largely unexplained development becomes the vehicle for an agreeable and brief political satire in Taft 2012.

The returning ex-president is at times disappointed in his brave new world. While he enjoys virtual golf on a computer, he observes that addiction to electronic communication has allowed Americans to become vicious, petty and sarcastic because they don't have to look at each other as they speak. Taft is disappointed that medicine has not become "a veritable marvel of equity and efficiency" and is scandalized that the intent of TDR's Pure Food and Drug Act has been undermined by lobbyists. He compares the "misguided and ineffectual" War on Drugs with Prohibition.

Taft has conflicting feelings about 2012 but modern Americans are unmixed in their reactions to the ex-Prez. Mobbed as a rock star, copies of his mustache sold on line, Taft is the darling of cable news channels, citizens groups and Allen the Electrician (a thinly disguised Joe the Plumber.) Taft is portrayed as self-deprecating, thoughtful, uninterested in power, averse to confrontation and essentially honest. When he finally consents to run again for office, the former chief executive pushes his handlers aside as they advocate a negative campaign: "We are not running to bring down politicians...We are running to lift up a people." The candidate is not averse to using Twitter to reach voters but he adamantly refuses to dumb down his message.

I won't spoil the plot but will mention that there is a scene later in the book that comes directly from Frank Capra's Meet John Doe.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By DWD's Reviews VINE VOICE on January 3, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Okay, let's get the ridiculous part of the book out of the way. Yes, Taft 2012 is based entirely on a silly premise: What if William Howard Taft disappeared from history the day Wilson was inaugurated and arrived in the year 2011 and fired up everyone's imagination to run for president again in 2012? But, setting that aside, what if Taft were alive and well today? What would he think of the United States 100 years after it rejected him for his re-election bid?

If you love The Twilight Zone or those Harry Turtledove time-traveling books and you are interested in politics, this one will satisfy.

I liked the book because I liked Heller's characterization of William Howard Taft. It's not hard for this overweight reviewer to sympathize with our fattest president (he got stuck in the presidential bathtub, a fact that embarrasses Heller's interpretation of Taft to no end - he cannot believe that people still remember that about him) who eats when he's under stress. But, Heller makes him understandable, likeable and gets us to sympathize with him. Taft's wonder at modern gadgets is short-lived (although his attempts to use Twitter are funny) but his amazement at the changes in American society such as the clothing, relations betweens the sexes and the freer interaction among the races continue to throw him throughout the book. At times, Taft is a man adrift, at times he is a man who knows he has been given an extraordinary second chance.

As a groundswell builds for a "draft Taft" to run for president in 2012, Heller introduces the political world and political issues of 2012. His portrayal is a bit simplistic but this is a short book.
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