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Taft 2012: A Novel Paperback – January 17, 2012
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“...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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Heller combines assiduous research, a fresh multi-person multi-media approach to prose along with a keen wit to produce a book that is exceedingly entertaining as well as... Read morePublished 13 months ago by R. Bryce Mcpherson
I tip my cap to Jason Heller for a really creative angle with this book. You just don't wake up and decide to write a book about William Howard Taft falling asleep on the ground... Read morePublished on March 19, 2014 by btwhite22
Heller brilliantly uses an utterly absurd flight of fancy, grounded in well-researched history, to pick apart the surreal circus that is modern American politics. Read morePublished on November 28, 2013 by Chris Vacano
I finished Jason Heller's "TAFT-2012" at the same time as the United States Congress was (once again) locked in an epic battle and brought the world economy to the brink over a... Read morePublished on October 16, 2013 by Mark Stevens
I thoroughly enjoyed this little political satire novel with alternate history and time travel elements. It's a quick, fun, thought-provoking read. Read morePublished on September 15, 2013 by lindapanzo
I was intrigued by the return friom the dead approach to see how someone from the past would handle or react to our modern day wat of lifePublished on September 6, 2013 by Mike D
In his first novel, author Jason Heller serves up a delightful political satire by combining a history lesson about the 27th President of the United States with a cutting social... Read morePublished on August 23, 2013 by Rule 62 Ken