Taft 2012 by Jason Heller (pub date 1/17/12)
Quirk Books lives up to its name in this debut novel by Jason Heller! Taft 2012 is a “Rip Van Winkle” story of epic proportions, as big as the protagonist himself, William Howard Taft. (Sorry, I had to get at least one weight joke in there).
As the title suggests, Taft 2012 offers a what-if scenario in which former president Taft mysteriously disappears in 1912 after losing his re-election campaign (he actually died in 1930) and awakens in the present day. Confused to say the least, Taft finds himself having to catch up on a century’s worth of change and progress. His reappearance causes such a stir among the American people that he is quickly asked to run for President as a third-party candidate.
An absurd concept, yes, but this book surprised me. Most readers would likely assume that a man who lived a hundred years ago would be horrified at the current state of America. But the modern Taft embraces his new country and is accepting of the many social changes that have occurred since his time. Heller obviously did his homework on Taft’s politics, and he presents the new Taft much as he was when he was in office: fiscally conservative yet socially progressive, a moderate who followed the letter of the law. What Taft does not support is lying and back-stabbing; and unfortunately he sees as much of that in today’s politics as he did in 1912 politics.
Though a fast read, this is an interesting book with a wildly original story. Overall, it’s a fun and uplifting book. And I have to give credit to the author for suggesting that perhaps what America needs is not another Republican or Democrat, but something different altogether. The ideals expressed are so refreshing that if the real Taft did indeed come back, I’d probably vote for him too.