Classics with political warnings
Dictators, military coups and fascism in worlds imagined years ago have been finding their way back on to bestsellers lists.
1984 by George Orwell
The use of the term “alternative facts” by Trump’s administration sparked shock at the parallels between that and the term “doublespeak” used in this 1948 book by Orwell to describe the idea of rhetoric that twists and distorts words and ideas. The Ministry of Truth rewrites history, and thoughtcrimes (holding views counter to the ruling party) are punishable.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
A totalitarian regime has overthrown the U.S. government; the main character is Offred, forced to have a child for an infertile couple. She is a specially chosen “handmaid.” Atwood’s is a feminist vision, written in the shadow of the rise of the religious right in the 1970s and ‘80s and asks the question: What happens if women’s rights are reversed?
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Huxley created a technologically advanced world set in the 21st century where the mind-numbing “soma” was given to the population to keep them happy and without pain. It was written as fascism across Europe was rising, but he also dealt with American consumerism and entertainment.
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
The lead character Nicholas Rubashov is imprisoned and tortured after a lifetime of devoting himself to the party that promised utopia but delivered something quite different. First published in 1941, it takes a look at the Russian Revolution, but exposes the inner logic of dictatorships in general.
It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
Written during the Great Depression, Lewis’ book tells of the rise of a dictator, Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, who gains the votes of millions of American voters by promising to combat welf are fraud and crime and who excoriates a liberal press. As the “fascism” rises, U.S. citizens in the book form a steady stream toward Canada. Sound familiar?