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It Can't Happen Here

Narrated by: Grover Gardner
Length: 14 hrs and 28 mins
4 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

First published in 1935, when Americans were still largely oblivious to the rise of Hitler in Europe, this prescient novel tells a cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy and offers an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America.

Doremus Jessup, a newspaper editor, is dismayed to find that many of the people he knows support presidential candidate Berzelius Windrip. The suspiciously fascist Windrip is offering to save the nation from sex, crime, welfare cheats, and a liberal press. But after Windrip wins the election, dissent soon becomes dangerous for Jessup. Windrip forcibly gains control of Congress and the Supreme Court and, with the aid of his personal paramilitary storm troopers, turns the United States into a totalitarian state.

©1935 Sinclair Lewis. © renewed 1963 by Michael Lewis (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about It Can't Happen Here

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A must read for everybody in these changing times

A must read for everybody in these changing times and a reminder not to take for granted your vote.

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Brilliant!

Not only for its current relevance but also in the reading, as well as the story in and of itself. Highly recommend.

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Worst book I’ve listened to on Audible

Don’t waste your time.
I read & listen to a lot.
Maybe it just wasn’t my style - but I wouldn’t waste your money or time :/

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  • mom2pidge
  • 14-11-2018

Cautionary Tale

This book seriously scared the crap out of me. Given the political climate in America today, and the rise of nationalism, demagoguery and the suppression and vilification of the free press, the vision of this story was chilling. I stopped several times throughout and had to re-check again what year this was written. While the language and slang is clearly dated and the lack of technology places it in a clearly different era, this is a strong cautionary tale for today. Grover Gardner's dispassionate delivery of sometimes gruesome events is unnerving at times, and I suppose it was meant to be. Should be required reading for every American voter. #pastmeetspresent #familiardystopia #americanpolitics #tagsgiving #sweepstakes

44 people found this helpful

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  • Imagineallthepeople
  • 31-03-2017

Good, But Not In Order...

I enjoyed the book. The narrator did fine. And the story is very well written. However...
In this recording, the following episodes were not in order and thus detracts from an otherwise good performance:
* Shad LeDue sulking about the régime's disrespect for him & his pining for Sissy;
*his "courtship" of Sissy;
*Sissy's turning Shad in for crooked dealings;
*and Shad's arrest/ imprisonment.

While an excellent story & performance, the editors or whoever put the recording together, should have done a better job.

74 people found this helpful

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  • Jens Kristian Biong
  • 04-01-2020

A must read in 2020

The world is again looking to fascism, just like a 100 years ago.

Now political correctness is about to kill the free western world and fascism will follow.

Just like a 100 years ago it is now, as it was then, the liberal’s revolt against the old and tried and the heralding of a new, free and liberal world, ‘mit lebensraum für alles und‘ free from all ‘oppression’, meaning all that was wrong. A total safe space for all - but, as you know, safe space is a new expression. Back then it was ‘freiheit und lebensraum’. Free from untermenschen of any kind…

A brave new world was promised for the right kind of man. A new world equal, not for all but for the superior, ’der übermensch’. And the lesser worth, ’der untermensch’, the inferior, of the wrong nationality, heredity or physical expression was relegated to abuse, slavery and extermination.

It took a world war and devastating carnage and suffering of millions of innocent lives to stop the tyrrany that ensued. And a generation to forget it all.

But now we have forgotten. Political correctness as the new doctrine, a tool to classify and rank fellow man according to his political opinion, age, skincolour, religion and cultural background and/or whatever you can think of, as long as he is male, white and a westerner, we are ready for a new round of intellectual regimentation.

What goes on right now, both here in Europe and in USA, might well be the prelude and build up to a reaction quickly leading to unadultered clear-cut fascism. The major sign is clear for all to see: todays insidious errosion of respect and honouring of the qualities, in its widest sense, that made the western civilication, Europe, and thereafter North-America, what it is today. With these qualities gone, we are back to barbarism.

Brace yourself and prepare yourself by reading It Can’t Happen Here because this time around it might very well do just that - happen here.

24 people found this helpful

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  • R. Bilic
  • 15-06-2019

Read this book now

The entire first half of this book mirrors exactly what is going on today in America. The surprising thing is that it was written in 1935.

17 people found this helpful

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  • David S. Mathew
  • 21-11-2016

The Rise of American Authoritarianism

Written in 1935, Sinclair Lewis' novel follows newspaper man Doremus Jessup as he documents the rise of "Buzz" Windrip to the U.S. presidency. Windrip campaigns on an openly racist, misogynistic, and nationalistic platform promising to make Great Depression era America great again. Windrip's eventually beats FDR in the election and quickly turns the Presidency a violent dictatorship, creating a Nazi Germany clothed in red, white, and blue.

I won't get too political here, but it's not hard to see some similarities to modern times in this novel. Grover Gardner's voice is flawless for this sort of novel and fans of 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and Brave New World will certainly find this story no less fascinating. This is true lost classic and possibly one of the most important novels Americans will ever read. Very highly recommended.

127 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 23-12-2018

Profoundly relevant to 2018,

A prophetic look at one scenario that destroys democracy in the US and brings fascism. As relevant now as then. Folksy people who find themselves in a living nightmare. The book deserves its recent spike in readership!

10 people found this helpful

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  • Leonard R. Wizmur
  • 03-05-2020

Mark Twain greets Facism

Sinclair Lewis spins a yarn which is amazing, timely, and frighteningly prescient. A must read for those concerned about where America is today and where it may be going.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Michael Smith
  • 25-03-2020

It CAN happen

This book is a wonderful look into what could happen when people allow things to go on as they have always happened. I think the author was indeed writing an alternative timeline, Although today's world has progressed and not followed the path the book portrayed, many of the events of both the book and today's world often seem similar. I would recommend to anyone looking into learning more about the events of that time period (1930's). Some language in the book, while not particularly bad, can cause offense to those who are easily offended. There are many slurs, but the book was written in a time when things like that were said.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Marshall
  • 19-05-2020

Visionary!

Sinclair Lewis' _It Can't Happen Here_ receives four stars from me due to the excellent vision, writing, and the author's ability to understand the depths of human cruelty.

This was an audiobook, so I begin with the reader. Grover Gardner reads this version by Blackstone Audio. Gardner is excellent. I've listened to him before and he is perfect for American novels. He has the rhythms, and the understanding of American culture to bring the text alive. His voices are varied enough to distinguish each character.

Wow! This text is in many ways visionary. Then why do I give 4 and not 5? Let me explain that first. Much of the text is told as a summary. A summary of what is going on or happened. I find this kind of writing to be lacking in energy. When Lewis narrates the action directly, not a summary, the text is really engaging, and I was drawn to it. However, for my taste, there is much too much summary. I'd say about 60% or more was a summary.

What makes this visionary are a couple of things. That Lewis could accurately understand the nature of humanity and how they might allow a dictator to come to power is excellent. I read that the book exploits the idea that people would give up freedom for safety. However, I didn't see that at all: What I saw was people want to be on top, and they don't care about others. There appeal to race, to creating a true patriot, and the others. Creating a new Us to be against the others.

What really just knocked me down was this: Lewis understood what concentration camps were, what would be going on in them (to an extent), and how they would work to control society. The book was published in 1935, so I'm sure reports may have been getting out of Germany about Concentration camps being places of torture and people being arrested for small infractions of the law, then sent to the camps. Lewis gets all this, he shows how the people become afraid of doing anything wrong because of the camps.

Recommended: Yes.

4 people found this helpful

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  • ivbell
  • 11-04-2018

Parts of it HAVE happened here

I really like this book but did have some difficulties with the combination of ridiculous satire and horrifying consequences... kind of like the Trump era! A few caveats: First, in the 1930’s the Democrats were the states’ rights party. Republicans were Federalists and believers in a strong central government. FDR was an anomaly. Second, don’t worry about all those names thrown out by Lewis (including his own several times), most don’t really matter. This is really a story about how a charismatic radio personality, manipulation of the press, a slow economy, and impressionable citizens can combine to turn the US into a fascist state. There are several parallels to current times that keep it interesting. Windrip is the personality who promises the moon to the common man (read “real America”) and grabs the nomination from FDR. Jessup, the regular guy hero at the center, feels believable, as well as his close family and friends - which is good because most other characters are caricatures. I warn that it starts out seeming funny and rather silly but it gets dark and horrifying. The end is a bit positive but not neatly wrapped.

36 people found this helpful

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  • Patrick
  • 20-07-2016

A story for our times

What made the experience of listening to It Can't Happen Here the most enjoyable?

Though written in 1935 and inspired by the rise of Fascism in Europe this could read as a warning of what can happen when an unscrupulous demagogue takes on the Presidency of the USA.

What other book might you compare It Can't Happen Here to, and why?

It describes a similar kind of scenario as Philip Roths's The Plot against America.

What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

Very good reader. Really captures the different characters and makes the story live.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Some sections dealing with the mistreatment of prisoners were hard to listen to but worth it in the end.

Any additional comments?

Though there are political and philosophic parts to this book it is never heavy or hard to listen to. Beautifully written.

6 people found this helpful

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  • shefflad
  • 07-04-2019

Scary echoes of today

Well written, well read. Sinclair Lewis's dialogue never disappoints. Scary story, is Buzz Windrip Trump?

2 people found this helpful

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  • D. J. Wilkinson
  • 06-09-2018

Astonishing

Given when this was written (1930’s) this is an astonishing book and is really a reader for today’s ills in many countries, including the US and UK. Actually this would be an interesting book on any political course.

Recommend

2 people found this helpful

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  • TheZee
  • 14-10-2017

Hauntingly Accurate

This is my first Sinclair Lewis book and I am taken by his future sense of how things can go in America if democracy is abandoned. He writes with a depth that causes deep thought. Strange as it is, Trump is Windrip! Scary and yet hopeful. The resistance of the the likes of Jessup will restore balance. This book is a must read for those who deny that this could happen.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Lord Peridot
  • 25-02-2019

Sinclair Lewis - America's George Orwell

Brilliant reading by Grover Gardner of this classic book. I presume this really is the author at his best as its hard to imagine a better or more prescient work of cautionary fiction. Lewis takes the event of fascist Europe in the early 1930's and imagines how such events might unfold in the USA. His characters, the descriptive passages, and the unfolding of the narrative are masterful. And anyone who gives the name Doremus Jessop to the most important and heroic character in the book must have had a pretty sharp sense of humour. I don't know if Sinclair Lewis was known as America's answer to George Orwell but I can see why that would be so appropriate. I was indeed reminded of Orwell by the ease with which the author captures one's attention and leads you effortlessly through to the end.

1 person found this helpful

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  • George
  • 18-12-2017

True Horror

1935?
How did he know so much about what was coming?
It’s like he lived through the 2nd World War.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Trevor
  • 17-11-2017

A forgotten gem rediscovered

Sinclair Lewis has long been a "name" to me but I have never actually read him. Interest in this book seems to have been rekindled by recent events in America and it is indeed a salutary reminder of the fragility of democracy. I like to imagine that the checks and balances built into the American political system would preclude such events as Lewis describes, but in an age of "false news" and digital chicanery who knows?

The ironical tone of the book is well captured by Grover Gardner's excellent reading.

Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-05-2017

Frightenly close to home depiction of an alternative future

A slow build up meant it took a while to get into this book. However this was important to consider the impact of political developments upon characters explored in the "pre Buzz" years. Considering when this was written (1935) the parallels with Nazi Germany and what is currently developing in America are incredible.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tony
  • 21-05-2017

Fascinating and foresightful

Fascinating story, especially when you consider when it was written. Narrator is very good also

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jamesup
  • 16-04-2017

Timely

Worth a listen, doesn't hold together perfectly these days but still a few gems and warnings that should be heeded.

1 person found this helpful