Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “It Can't Happen Here” as Want to Read:
It Can't Happen Here
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

It Can't Happen Here

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  7,595 Ratings  ·  1,418 Reviews
In 1936, the American electorate votes a populist presidential candidate into the White House, where he rewrites the Constitution and declares Congress obsolete – thereby ushering fascism into the United States. The story follows dissenting newspaperman Doremus Jessup as he works against the government. Lewis was the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, wh ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 458 pages
Published 1935 by Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc.
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about It Can't Happen Here, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Cheryl Chiarello I also got this book based on its "topicality" during the fall 2016 election season, and found the first 10-15% pretty mundane and like I was reading…moreI also got this book based on its "topicality" during the fall 2016 election season, and found the first 10-15% pretty mundane and like I was reading "Life With Father" but I persevered and was so glad I did! It turned into much more and at the ending sentence I bawled my eyes out not bec. of any particular event in the book but bec. of the spirit of the protagonist and those like him, which I think we Americans will need to closely keep in mind these next 4 years, and be EVER vigilant.
Hope you kept reading, Kevin.
(less)
Charlene Mathe There are several Michael Meyer authors that come up on my browser. None linked to the publisher. I think it could be this literature professor:
…more
There are several Michael Meyer authors that come up on my browser. None linked to the publisher. I think it could be this literature professor:
"Michael Meyer (Ph.D., University of Connecticut) has taught writing and literature courses for more than 30 years — since 1981 at the University of Connecticut and before that at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the College of William and Mary. His scholarly articles have appeared in distinguished journals such as American Literature, Studies in the American Renaissance, and Virginia Quarterly Review. An internationally recognized authority on Henry David Thoreau, Meyer is a former president of the Thoreau Society and coauthor (with Walter Harding) of The New Thoreau Handbook, a standard reference source. His other books for Bedford/St. Martin's include Poetry: An Introduction (2010), The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature (2009); and Thinking and Writing about Literature (2001)."
One reason I think so is that the 2014 Penguin edition adds an Afterward by Gary Scharnhorst, another literature professor.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Michael Finocchiaro
A friend of mine that was recently in London told me that all the bookshops there had Roth's The Plot Against America and It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. Alarmist? Perhaps, but as I already said in my review of The Plot Against America, maybe not.
In It Can't Happen Here, rather than Lindbergh tromping FDR as in The Plot Against America, we have a populist Windrip who takes the Democratic nomination in 1936 by storm on a platform promising $5000 to each American citizen and naturally crus
...more
Lilo
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone who cares about what happens to our country and our planet
Recommended to Lilo by: my dear GR friend Ted

October 8, 2015:

I am just on page 84 of this book but I cannot wait to write a review. So I will write a preliminary review.

Sinclair Lewis wrote this meanwhile classic satire in 1936. And I am afraid that fictious history might become true, 80 years after this book has been written.

The satiric novel tells about an American presidential candidate who is very belligerent and bombastic. Irony of all irony: Even though he is clearly a fascist, he hitches a ride from the Democratic Party to come to p
...more
Lyn
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It Can’t Happen Here is Sinclair Lewis’ political satire and propagandized account of the rise of an American fascist.

Perhaps most compelling is the fact that Lewis wrote the book only a couple of years after Hitler’s rise to power (and 13 years before Orwell’s 1984). Lewis was an astute and keen observer of political power and was a canary in the coal mine for a world that would soon know much grief.

Considering that Lewis published this in 1935, it is eerily uncanny the way his fictitious pre
...more
Rick
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Amy Beth, Mark, Katie, Tristan
Shelves: fiction
I have always thought that if fascism ever came to America it would come clothed in red, white, and blue, with patriotic songs, and quotations from founding fathers. It would be nationalistic. It would extol military endeavors and elevate soldiers to the level of heroes. It would handle the race question in subtle yet effective ways. It would join forces with conservative Christian churches and begin to make life hard for anyone else. It would give free reign to the rich, the powerful, and the p ...more
Susan
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in 1935 this novel has had a sudden resurgence due to world events which somehow seem eerily similar. The story tells of the rise of the next President of the United Stated – Berzelius ‘Buzz’ Windrip, mostly through the eyes of small town journalist, Doremus Jessup (there are some very unusual names in this novel!), his family and local community.

Obviously, this novel was written during the time of rising fascism in Europe and the author has cleverly taken those events and the complacen
...more
Julie
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis is a 2014 Signet publication.

I’ll give you three guesses as to why this book showed up on my TBR list, and two don’t count.

Originally published way back in 1935, Sinclair Lewis’s novel seemed to transcend time and is a constant reminder what can happen if we are too complacent or too timid to make our voice heard.

There is no need to go over the context of this timeless classic, as it has been analyzed many times over by people far more prolific than myse
...more
Jim
Jan 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This extraordinary novel from 1935 predicts with uncanny accuracy the American political situation of 2016, and has authentic and frightening warnings. Sinclair Lewis satirizes with biting humor the potential for America to fall to populist demagogues with nothing to say but what people want to hear, and of the terrible consequences of the people's naïvete. A must read.
David Schaafsma
“The conspicuous fault of the Jeffersonian Party, like the personal fault of Senator Trowbridge, was that it represented integrity and reason, in a year when the electorate hungered for frisky emotions, for the peppery sensations associated, usually, not with monetary systems and taxation rates but with baptism by immersion in the creek, straight whisky, angelic orchestras heard soaring down from the full moon, fear of death when an automobile teeters above a canyon, thirst in a desert and quenc ...more
Bam
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fitting fictional follow-up to the weighty nonfiction book The Origins of Totalitarianism which I've recently read. Written in 1935 in the midst of the Great Depression and the volatile political situation taking place around the world which facilitated the rise of demagogues like Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini, Sinclair Lewis asks the question: CAN IT HAPPEN HERE IN AMERICA? And the answer he provides in this book is YES, IT CAN!

Set in Vermont beginning in the year 1936, the main
...more
Jason Koivu
It can. It is.

This book is the Nostradamus of our political past, present and potential future.

Check out GoodReads' stats for It Can't Happen Here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/stats?...

If you're viewing those stats in the future, when the graph no longer covers as far back as 11/8/2016, you will have missed the HUGE spike in activity on this site for this book. Prior to the momentous astounding absolutely fucking unbelievable election of 11/9/2016, interest in this book was hauling in pedest
...more
Mike
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

The first thing you might want to be clear about when you pick up this novel is that Sinclair Lewis is not Upton Sinclair. Not many people realize this. About a week after November 8 for example, when I dutifully brought It Can't Happen Here up to a clerk at Barnes & Noble, he remarked, "so you're reading this one and not Oil!, eh?" It wasn't until I got back to my car that I realized his mistake. Some may doubt my hypothesis, but I'm certain they are two different people. Well, almost certa
...more
Maru Kun
There is no better time to read this book than right now, except maybe for this time next year.

The story in Sinclair Lewis’ “It Couldn’t Happen Here” is a familiar one: fascism comes to America through the ballot box and the path first trod by the Nazis is faithfully followed.

These days we have learnt the lessons of history and look with suspicion at grandstanding debates and at political rallies filled with bright lights, loud music and low-level violence. But in this age these are no more than
...more
Nancy Oakes
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Given what's going on in American politics right now, this book wins my prize for most frightening read of 2016. Sorry if you don't like my use of the "p" word, but it is what it is.

To put the novel in its historical perspective, I turn to an article in the New Yorker written by Alexander Nazaryan (October 19th of this year) that says

"Sinclair Lewis published the novel as Adolf Hitler was making Germany great again, violating the Treaty of Versailles by establishing the Wehrmacht. Benito Mussoli
...more
Montzalee Wittmann
Describes our times and predicts a terrifying possibility...mix it with 1984 and it is right on target!
David Sarkies
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Political Theorists and Historians
Recommended to David by: Howard Zinn
Shelves: politics
The Rise of an American Dictatorship
7 April 2012

I discovered this book after reading a collection of interviews by Howard Zinn where he described it as a warning about how the United States could become a fascist dictatorship. Zinn's argument was that the US is already heading down that road, though it has not quite reached that point at the time of the interviews. When comparing the United States as outlined in this book and what we perceive today I would also suggest that we have not yet arri
...more
Terri Jacobson
I listened to the audiobook read by Grover Gardener and produced by Blackstone Audio, Inc. This book was written in 1935 and has surged in popularity in America since the election of Donald Trump in 2016.

Doremus Jessup, a newspaper editor, is concerned about the upcoming American election. Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip is running on a populist platform, and Doremus is concerned about his campaign. Windrip promises to restore America to glory and world power. He promises to save the people from crime,
...more
Susan Stuber
I give this five stars, not because it is particularly well-written, but because it is such an important book that really everyone who is concerned about present current world affairs should read. Apparently, before sitting down to write the book, which he did in less than five months in 1935, Lewis did a lot of intense research on how facism rises and works once it is established. Parts of the book may seem tedious to today's reader, because his fictional political characters are almost all sur ...more
Holly Wood
Mar 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a professor tell me once that this is the distilled version of a middle-class academic's fears of what would happen during an American holocaust. More so than anything else, they fear the "ignorance" of the working class, bitter from being stepped on for so long they would quickly embrace anyone promising them any sort of redistribution. The lesson is never to fear the poverty that is the source of social problems, but to fear the symptoms.

And you know what? I agree with him. No matter how
...more
Ted

My guess at Amazon sale positions say a couple years ago: **

#25,000 in Books > Literature & Fiction > United States > Classics
#5,000 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Political
#50,000 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Classics

- - - - - - - - - -

I guess my rating can stand in for a review at this distance in time since I read it. Anyway, we all understand that the book has achieved a new topicality.

Currently (June 2 '17) on Amazon:

#2 in Book
...more
Ε.Χ.Γ. ⚓
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Για πολλούς ανθρώπους η μόνη τους επανάσταση εξαντλείται στην αναμονή."

"Σ' το λέω, κανείς δεν έχει τόσους φίλους όσους ο επαναστάτης. Ούτε και τόσους εχθρούς!"
Infada Spain
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
4.5 stars
Jason Pettus
Mar 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

"Whenever you hear a prominent American called a 'Fascist,' you can usually make up your mind that the man is simply a LOYAL CITIZEN WHO STANDS FOR AMERICANISM." --William Randolph Hearst, October 1935, one month after the release of It Can't Happen Here

Although it's easily my favorite of all the things I
...more
Kenneth Grossman


It Can't Happen Here (1935) is a prescient commentary on American society in the mid-1930s by Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951), a Noble Prize for Literature laureate (1930). It Can't Happen Here is the story of a fictional fascist government's rise in mid-1930s USA, an insecure society deep in socio-economic turmoil. This thoughtful novel is very rich and requires the reader to be attentive. I highly recommend it, especially for somewhat politically-minded readers. If you are just looking for a good r
...more
Jose Moa
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel,with We,1984,Kallocain and Farenheith 451 set up the great totalitarian distopic novels.

In this novel written in 1935 ( it really could happen if Huey Long were not killed,Berzelius Windrip can be considered the alter ego of Huey Long governor of Louisiana ) Sinclair Lewis make a excelent disection of the fascist totalitarian system with all its features of populism,censorship,racism,chauvinism,xenofobia,mesianism,,promises of make the country great again, search of interior and exter
...more
Faith
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, overdrive
Written and set in the 1930s, this was brilliant satire, terrifying in its accuracy. A dictator is elected by gullible people based on promises of upholding good old American values, liberty, strength, protecting US interests and giving everyone (excluding negroes of course) $5000. During his campaign he would "...coldly and almost contemptuously jab his audience with figures and facts, figures and facts that were inescapable even when, as often happened, they were entirely incorrect."

After the
...more
C.P.
Mar 30, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A charismatic Democratic candidate whose speeches are more memorable than the content... hmmm.... Hints of populism to get the support of the most naive voters -- who think the candidate will give them all they need -- with no intention of following through... hmmmm... Bailing out the big companies in order to control them and the economy... hmmm... Personality cults.... hmmm...

The idea is eerily prescient, though it took two parties and two Presidents in real life. I know that I will be labeled
...more
J.G. Keely
Lewis' greatest strength as a writer is his sense of social satire, bolstered by his humanist treatment of characters. He sees people as ultimately flawed, always in danger of succumbing to their fears, insecurities, and egos. However, this is no reason to condemn man or his works. Humanists do not expect people to overcome their flaws, like idealists, nor to descend into apologetic guilt in hopes of redemption.

The hope for humanists is that we may come to recognize our flaws, and then to limit
...more
Anna Iakovidou
Το 1935, τα φασιστικά στρατεύματα του Μουσολίνι εισβάλλουν στην Αιθιοπία, η ναζιστική Γερμανία παραβιάζει τη Συνθήκη των Βερσαλλιών, στην Ελλάδα το φιλοβασιλικό κίνημα του Κονδύλη καταλαμβάνει την εξουσία, η Ισπανία βρίσκεται στα πρόθυρα του εμφύλιου πολέμου, και στην Αμερική ο Λίουις Σινκλαίρ, ήδη βραβευμένος με το πρώτο βραβείο Νόμπελ, εκδίδει το έργο του «Δεν γίνονται αυτά εδώ».

Ο αναγνώστης παρακολουθεί την πορεία του ώριμου δημοσιογράφου Ντορέμους Τζέσαπ, ο οποίος καλείται να αναθεωρήσει τις
...more
Marisa
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unbelievably, I somehow missed reading this classic before now. The book is as vital and prescient as when it was first published in 1935. Rather than giving us answers, Sinclair Lewis forces us to ask the hard questions we don’t want to deal with.
Hailee
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I mentioned this while I was reading it but I’ll say it again: this book scared me. It was so easy to believe how a country can go from to democracy to a dictatorship just a few short days after an inauguration.

This novel is about the rise of a racist, sexist demagogue… well that is how it starts. This novel covers the consequences of having such a President in America, for everyday working citizens, the previously untouchable citizens in power and the people who are newly in power and are as s
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Swastika Night
  • The Iron Heel
  • City at World's End
  • Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook
  • Bend Sinister
  • Kallocain
  • The Iron Dream
  • One
  • Moscow 2042
  • The Complete Tales of Nikolai Gogol, Volume 1
  • The Octopus: A Story of California
  • Plague of Pythons
  • Christian Nation
  • The Children's War: A Novel
  • A People's History of American Empire
  • Strike!
  • They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-45
  • The Book
7330
Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1930 "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters." His works are known for their insightful and critical views of American capitalism and materialism between the wars. He is also respected for his strong characterizations of modern working women. H.L. Mencken wrote of him, "[If] the ...more
More about Sinclair Lewis...

Share This Book

“Every man is a king so long as he has someone to look down on.” 77 likes
“He loved the people just as much as he feared and detested persons.” 50 likes
More quotes…