*Note: This is the short version of this interview. You can also find the full-length version of the interview here on our site.
What if Americans elected a dictator?
Sally Parry, Executive Director of the Sinclair Lewis Society, talks about California Reads selected book It Can’t Happen Here, written by Sinclair Lewis during the Great Depression and published in 1935. It Can’t Happen Here tells the tale of how American voters are manipulated by a presidential candidate who rises to power during tough economic times and creates a fascist regime. This underappreciated classic by one of America’s greatest novelists, as relevant today as ever, imagines a chillingly undemocratic America and reminds us of the fragility of our democratic institutions.
“I wish that the book seemed cartoonish and old-fashioned and sort of a historical curiosity,” says Parry. On the contrary. “In some ways, the novel is a cautionary tale about what happens when citizens do not take their part in a democracy.”
For 2012, the California Reads program was part of our Searching for Democracy initiative. Look for interviews with the other California Reads authors and find out more about Searching for Democracy here on our website.