Author: Jason Heller
Format: Trade Paperback, 256 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books (January 17, 2012)
Genre: Science Fiction/Political Satire/Time Travel
Review Copy: Provided by Publisher
He is the perfect presidential candidate. Conservatives love his hard-hitting Republican résumé. Liberals love his passion for peaceful diplomacy. The media can’t get enough of his larger-than-life personality. Regular folks can identify with his larger-than-life physique. And all the American people love that he’s an honest, hard-working man who tells it like it is.
There’s just one problem: He is William Howard Taft... and he was already U.S. president a hundred years ago. So what on earth is he doing alive and well and considering a running mate in 2012?
Jason Heller’s extraordinary debut novel presents the Vonnegut-esque satire of a presidential Rip Van Winkle amid 21st-century media madness. It’s the ultimate what-if scenario for the 2012 election season!
The premise of Taft 2012 is really fun. William Howard Taft disappears on the inauguration day of Woodrow Wilson (who defeated him) and somehow reappears in late 2011 in a garden at The White House.
Imagine dozing off in 1913 and waking up to the technological marvels of the 2011. There are some very funny moments as Taft adjusts to the new technology, especially Twitter. It's interesting to see 'now' through Taft's eyes as he reacquaints himself with America, meets his descendants, and views the political scene. Taft gets swept up in the political movement named for him (the Taft Party) and runs for President again.
Taft 2012 is an enjoyable read. It's fast paced and well written. Taft 2012 does not delve deeply into past history or present day politics which keeps the novel from becoming bogged down. Taft comes to life on the pages as he travels America, deals with some of the things that bothered him in the past (his weight, his falling out with Teddy Roosevelt, the way he governed), and then enters the political fray. There is an especially wonderful speech near the end of the novel that I found very moving.
I didn't really know much about William Howard Taft prior to reading this book, but I now have the flavor of his presidency and of Taft the man. This is not a history book so if you are looking for an in-depth accounting of Taft's presidency and life, pick up a Taft biography.
If you like political satire served with a side of science fiction and alternate history, you'll really enjoy Taft 2012.
I give Taft 2012 4 Qwills.
Read Jason Heller's Guest Blog - The fine (okay, accidental) art of genre-busting - here and an interview here.