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It Can't Happen Here (Signet Classics) Paperback – January 7, 2014
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“Written at white heat.”—Chicago Tribune
“Not only [Lewis's] most important book but one of the most important books ever produced in this country.”—The New Yorker
About 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.
Gary Scharnhorst is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico, editor of American Literary Realism, and editor in alternating years of American Literary Scholarship.
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Top customer reviews
to the way Lewis wrote the book. However, old-timey sayings aside, this is an incredible piece of fiction.
It Can't Happen Here parallels what an American regime, like that of Adolph Hitler's in Germany would
be like as it unfolded. The main character is a small town newspaper editor, who enjoys his life and the
way things have gone in his town and state, for much of his life. Doremus Jessup, the main character, is
even able to convince himself to stay out of the way of an administration that becomes more and more
authoritative and dictatorial. Unfortunately, things develop rapidly around the country and the regime's
bad deeds end up in Doremus' town and he's no longer able to ignore it.
The ease at which this turns from a cozy and sleepy small town to outright war on any critical voice is
quite drastic. There is tension and unease sprinkled here and there, but the reality hits Doremus and
when it does, he starts to act in any way he can. The country is virtually a loss and men like Doremus,
who just wanted to enjoy what they had accomplished in life and not become overly political, became
the ones that begin the resistance. I'll say no more, so nothing is given away.
I read this book over two days time and could not put it down. This is quite simply one of the most remarkable
and prescient books I have read in years. I highly recommend this as a Political Science expert and policy
analyst. Thanks to my view of the world, this book was both chilling and thought provoking.
Written by Lewis after returning from spending much time Germany witnessing the rise of Hitler.
Typical Sinclair Lewis style, a bit dated but very readable.
So while I don't see this book as a prediction of the election of Trump it is still an enjoyable read that will make you think and was well worth what I paid for it.
However the genius of the work is its prescience in predicting, almost ten years out, the unmitigated and unimaginable horror of the Holocaust – unimaginable that is, to almost anyone except Lewis. And while the first half of the novel -documenting the ascendancy of a dictator on American soil – might sometimes seem exaggerated, it comes eerily close to the 2016 presidential election. And now it remains to be seen whether the second half of the novel is as true for post-election America as it was for Europe in the era of Hitler.
Most recent customer reviews
The book if filled with Lewis's classic detail, unique characters and satire.