Book reviews by D.G. Kaye
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Sunday Book Review – It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

Book reviews by D.G. Kaye


Since my obsession with U.S. politics has taken over I’ve read several books in this past year that were originally written as dystopian fictional stories but have become quite popular again due to the current state of politics, and compared by many to the current escalating climate of doubt shadowing the U.S. now. It seemed every time I looked for a specific book on Amazon it would ‘suggest’ books related to my search, which had me reading some of those classics and some newer ones. Books such as On Tyranny, The Handmaid’s Tale, Orwell’s 1984, and Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here, present some scary scenarios with similar parallels to  the current state of the U.S. right now. As one reviewer stated, “Too painful to read. Too prescient not to.”





“The novel that foreshadowed Donald Trump’s authoritarian appeal.”—Salon

It Can’t Happen Here is the only one of Sinclair Lewis’s later novels to match the power of Main Street, Babbitt, and Arrowsmith. A cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, it is an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America.

Written during the Great Depression, when the country was largely oblivious to Hitler’s aggression, it juxtaposes sharp political satire with the chillingly realistic rise of a president who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, sex, crime, and a liberal press.

Called “a message to thinking Americans” by the Springfield Republicanwhen it was published in 1935, It Can’t Happen Here is a shockingly prescient novel that remains as fresh and contemporary as today’s news.


My 4 Star Review:


A haunting resemblance to the 2016 U.S. elections. This book was written in and takes place in the mid 1930s after the Great Depression, depicting a time when the people needed something ‘different’ to believe in, in hopes of a new democracy. But unfortunately, once the power greedy government took power, terror began to reign and life as previously had been known with common civility was instantly turned into a totalitarian society.

I gave this book 4 stars because as captivating as the storyline was, I found it a bit choppy to read as far as the first part of the book went where many characters were introduced at once, which made for a bit of a confusing read and had me backtracking in the book several times. And the dialogue written in vocabulary of those times was sometimes confusing to discern.

It wasn’t difficult to see that desperate people were so easily conned by president elect Buzz Windrip who claimed he was a democrat, and used his rhetoric and fake promises – among many other promises that each family would be given $5000 a year as part of his plan to get the country back up on its feet.  Racism was alive and well, and of course, the Jews and blacks were ultimately, not treated equal to the average white American as said democracy was changing into a fascist society.The then GOP was known as ‘the Corporates’, later to be known as the Corpes.

Doremus Jessup, the main character who the story revolves around, is an editor for The Informer newspaper. He can see what is happening to his country and is hellbent on publishing the truth on current state of affairs while strongly opposed to the sudden and fascist takeover of his government. As with any fascist government, the media will be persecuted if they choose to tell the truth. Slowly but surely people’s rights are taken away – women’s rights, voting rights, eliminate congress etc. as fake propaganda continues to spread. The story continues with Jessup’s objection and defiance of this new government and his will to communicate with the world what is really happening as he takes to joining underground forces to continue his mission of truth along with many other journalists who are captured, beaten, sent to concentration camps and/or eventual death. Eventually, the government catches on to Jessup’s opposition and the story unfolds as Jessup and his family are caught defying the new law and the consequences that ensue for his actions.

Spies are everywhere as the appointed ‘MM’ – minute men become the eyes and ears for the Windrip government to ensure policies are carried out. And it’s uncanny to see how easily some friends and family are shallow and blinded by this new corruption, now law, leaving many to become traitors to their own loved ones in the name of the fake promises by a lying dictator.

I will admit this book was a difficult read for me, but because of the parallels to today’s U.S. politics, I was determined to continue reading if only for my curiosity to see how the story ended. A recommended and gripping read for people who are curious to learn just how easily people can be swayed by a smooth talker instilling false hope for personal gain.



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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.


  • Carol

    I think it is scary how sometimes books that are written in the past eerily mirror current happenings…This is something which happens frequently around the world which is even scarier…The more I read or watch I am finding that politicians and governments scare the bejesus out of me and I think we should all be very scared. A great review Debby and thought provoking.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks so much Carol. These are scary times for many countries in the world right now. It’s essential that we keep spreading the awareness so the truth comes out and stops misleading the blind. 🙂 xx

  • Olga Núñez Miret

    Yes, indeed. History has a way of repeating itself, especially when we forget it. I don’t think I’ve ever read Sinclair Lewis. Have you read ‘All the Kings’ Men’? I read it a long while back but I remember it had an interesting take on media and politics, and it was a good read. Thanks, Debby!

    • dgkaye

      Oh yes Olga, history certainly does have a way of repeating itself – it’s not just a phrase. And thanks for the heads up on All the King’s Men. You have me curious now and I’ll be check that one out too. 🙂 Thanks Olga! 🙂 x

  • robbiesinspiration

    Donald Trump reminds me of the wannabe president in Stephen King’s The Dead Zone. I don’t follow the US politics to closely although I obviously know the big stuff. Trump is a very controversial leader.

  • balroop2013

    Thanks for an insight into this book Deb…literature plays and important role in molding the thoughts of people, who reserve the power to overthrow such monsters who work for their own selfish motives. In my mind’s eye, they appear as trolls who meet their end very soon! Nemesis is always lurking around them. 🙂

  • John Maberry

    Wow, you really are reaching back! Scary stuff. Never even heard of this one. I’ve not read much of his stuff. I know he was a preeminent muckraker, before investigative journalists became a big thing. It was his book about the meatpacking industry that produced laws regulating it. But more on Trump–you are way ahead of me on outside reading! 🙂 I really should catch up with my homeboy here, born in Minnesota.

  • Hilary

    Hi Debby – it does sound an interesting read – even if difficult. I guess power holds the key … I’ll be back to comment again – rather a lot going on here – distractions!! Cheers Hilary

      • Hilary

        Thanks Debby – I’ll check out the library and too Jacqui’s suggestion below – but I must say I don’t want to get too stuck into these sorts of books … particularly when my mind is usually on other things.

        However – sadly we are not taught to think, or evaluate … and so many can’t get beyond expressing an opinion, without thought, and then don’t read up about it – or understand the concept or … what is worse – wish to.

        Twitter may be a good platform – but so many cannot reason or express themselves sensibly any more … ‘a few words do not a good understanding make’ – we are getting dumber and less interested in things other than ourselves ….

        We need to consider the other side of the discussion, and be prepared to discuss and find out about – sorry this is probably repetitive, and not very well expressed – ah well! the sentiment is there, isn’t it? Is your questionmark fixed … ?? Cheers Hilary

        • dgkaye

          Hi Hilary. Thanks for adding to the conversation. You are right. This book may not be of interest to some, but it was for me. I merely review books I’ve read. It’s also clear that some people do need an education and should read more books instead of listening to propaganda. 🙂 xx

  • Jacqui Murray

    There is so much out there on US politics these days, too often intended to scare the heck out of us Americans. A comment from Salon–quite left-wing–doesn’t mean much to me. Since everyone is either extreme left or right, I don’t know who’s rec I would take. One book I enjoyed–and written by a Canadian–is Mark Steyn’s America Alone. Written in 2005 (pre-Trump Derangement Syndrome on the part of the left), it addresses the world. You might enjoy that if you’re into world politics.

  • Stevie Turner

    This is a shift from your usual genre, Debby! Great review, and even though the story is set in the 1930s it still gives out a message 80+ years later. I always say that TV is opium for the masses – I think it’s supposed to make us passive and brain-dead so that we can be manipulated by the powers-that-be!

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Stevie. I agree with you, we must read from factual sources to educate ourselves, and learn from the past.
      Yes, like I said, I’ve been absorbed into the world of politics this past year. A bit out of my wheelhouse for preference, but then again, so was 1984. But I think my passion for reading and writing nonfiction was still part of why I wanted to read these types of books to see how they compare to today’s realities. 🙂

  • Adele Marie

    I do wish people would read more, find their own truth, when in a down situation it is too easy to latch onto the voice of the false when it promises an easy fix. I am reminded of Sauron from Lord Of The Rings, also Maggie Thatcher from the 80’s who gave people the right to buy their own council houses, creating a shortage now that they haven’t recovered from, also the council never saw any of the money it went straight to the government. <3

    • dgkaye

      Arg Adele, sound like the same song being played over and over in history. You are so right, if more people would read and weigh the truths rather than following some cult like groups or watching fake news channels, we’d all be better off. <3

  • D. Wallace Peach

    It is amazing what is happening here, Debby. The book sounds like it’s hit the nail on the head, which is a bit scary since it was written almost 100 years ago. It’s amazing to me how people fall into the same group think and the same patterns over and over again. They end up doing despicable things to others and don’t even see how they’re hurting themselves. I don’t think I can read this – I’m saturated on Trump. Thanks for the fascinating review!

    • dgkaye

      Thank you Diana. Sadly, I agree with you. And I totally get it how it would be a difficult read now for many. It was for me too, but my curiosity got the best of me. But you are so right, people don’t learn, but at least many more have their radars up now. Godbless. <3

  • Lauren Scott

    This book definitely sounds gripping, Debby, and probably so gripping that I may pass on it for now. 🙂 You wrote a wonderful review, though. I work with a woman who is glued to the news, unlike me. I watch it, but then a break is necessary, too. So, sometimes I feel anxiety creeping up, and reading a book like this would only manifest these feelings when in actuality I get enough of “Trumpolitics” on the news. Hope this makes sense. It is scary to think that books written so long ago now resemble the current affairs of our country and world. I really worry about my adult children and all the present younger generations and those to come. Unfortunately, the times are super scary right now. Breathe. And on that note, I hope you have a nice evening. 🙂 🌷

    • dgkaye

      Hi Lauren. Thanks for dropping by and adding to the conversation. I totally agree with you, the news is constant and overwhelming, even here in Canada where we are such close neighbors. It’s hard for many to take. I must be like your friend at work, where I am glued and very active supporting my American friends, signing petitions and posting on social media to keep those informed who don’t watch a lot of news. Hence, I’m drawn to these types of books in this time of the world. But I can certainly appreciate how you must turn it off sometimes to keep your sanity. <3

  • lisa thomson-The Great Escape...

    Compelling review, Deb! Thanks for sharing. I haven’t heard of this book but it does sound apt for today’s political climate in the U.S., as you say. Good for you for reading through all of it as I imagine it was deeply disturbing. The news is just getting more and more absurd, scary and outlandish. I keep asking when will he be brought down by the democracy?

    • dgkaye

      Hi Lis. Thanks for your comment. I guess I’m just a curious soul, always trying to figure out the whys. You and I both are waiting for the end of that madness. And if we are, imagine how most of our American friends feel. <3

  • Carol Balawyder

    I enjoyed your review, Debby. Like you, I too am somewhat obsessed with US politics and often amazed how many “fans” Trump has. Even more incredulous how his party stands behind him. Power and money do corrupt and Trump is the arrogant king of corruption. Anyway, the book sounds interesting and appreciate you having plowed through it and taken the time to write an excellent review. xxx

    • dgkaye

      It is incredulous isn’t it Carol. But his base is like a cult and no matter what he does they don’t care. Truly frightening times. This book written over half a century ago is so eerily close to today’s times in the US, demonstrating how easily a country can turn on a dime. 🙂 <3

  • Noelle Granger

    I’ve never read this book, Debbie, so thanks for putting it on my radar screen. It seems to me that the enemy today is the media itself – I was very affronted that none of the major news outlets covered the return of the remains of US servicemen from North Korea. As a military Mom, the ignoring of this event is hurtful.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks for dropping by Noelle. I was sure I watched 2 different segments on that this morning? I think there’s a lot of hurtful and neglected things going on with the military and vets too. 🙁

  • Liesbet @ Roaming About

    It’s so scary (yet realistic and repetitive) how history repeats itself, or how a fiction book could be a telltale of the future. When will people learn? And, by people, I mean people in a general sense (the same counts for environmental changes and problems), not the (liberal) group of people who realize these dangers already… This should be common sense. Unfortunately, only when people are affected personally, change can and will happen.

    • dgkaye

      So much truth in that Liesbet. Often people live under the radar or are snowed by things they hear without fact checking things on their own. And yes, it’s truly uncanny how several fiction books were written decades ago and are now being compared to the current climate in world politics. Stay informed! 🙂 x

  • Norah Colvin

    Debby, This book sounds like a scary book for scary times. I’m not into dystopian novels and by the sound of it, this one might hit just a little too close to home at the moment.

    • dgkaye

      Thanks Norah. I can well appreciate how this book can scare some. Perhaps there’s a few who need to read it. As for dystopian, it’s not my genre either. I mostly read it because the reviews and blurb sounded eerily comparable to today’s America and being politically absorbed at the moment was curious to read. 🙂

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