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Book Review

Book Cover

Taft 2012


Author: Jason Heller
Quirk Books
RRP: £8.99, US $14.95, Cdn $16.95
ISBN: 978 1 59474 550 8
Available 12 February 2012

William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States, on the inauguration of his successor, pauses for a minute next to a fountain. Falling into a fugue, Taft sleeps away the next hundred years, only to re-emerge in the twenty-first century. He finds a very different America. Always fond of his food, Taft is disgusted with the state of processed food and even more processed politicians. From a ground swell of support Taft is placed in the position of running for the presidency almost a hundred years after he first lost it...

Taft 2012 is a new fantasy novel by Jason Heller. Heller has taken Taft and rewritten his history for the fantasy. When Taft finally emerges into the 21st Century he adapts fairly quickly to his new world, helped by reconnecting with his descendent family in the shape of Rachel Taft, herself involved in politics trying to get a bill through which deals with the continuing bastardisation of our food chain and taste buds.

Although the book is couched in whimsy, it also has a serious point to make about the accountability of politicians and the influence of the mass media. Taft finds himself the apparent focus for an electorate which feel disenfranchised by a political system comprising of members from the same social strata, who seem more interested in themselves and their political interest, than they do the people.

Taft is held up as a symbol of a simpler time, though Taft would disagree with the point of view. A supposed ground swell of support sees him back on the political trail heading towards the White House.

With the lightness of touch in the description of Taft and his experiences as well as the semi-comic tone, it is difficult to say that the book has a unique political statement to make. Taft is used as a mirror to the modern world and many things are held to be wrong, but Heller is cleverer than to just harp on about the poor state of modern affairs, using Taft to show that time may pass but few things change. If anything the book is a gentle nudge to those in public office to remember just who they are supposed to be working for.

Taft is well written and I genially enjoyed spending a little time with the rotund gentleman. Worth picking up for the character of Taft, if not for the watered down political message.


Charles Packer

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