Taft 2012: A Novel by Jason Heller
Reviewed by: Jennifer S. Roman, Radiantlit.com
Genre: historical fiction, political fiction, William Howard Taft, Presidents
Publisher: Quirk Books
Publication Date: January 7, 2012
Jason Heller’s Taft 2012: A Novel adds a twist to the parlor game of asking which famous dead people you’d like to have dinner with. The story is told from Taft’s perspective when he wakes up starving, and surprisingly, buried underground. He is able to dig his way out, only to find himself on the White House lawn, being chased and shot in the leg by a Secret Service Agent. The top scientists and doctors in the world are able to confirm that he is indeed William Howard Taft, who was president 100 years ago. Considering that he mysteriously disappeared the day Roosevelt was sworn into office, nobody can figure out how he was buried under the White House lawn.
As Taft begins to live his life, he is given the rock-star treatment until he needs a Secret Service Agent to protect him after Congress decides he is entitled as a former President. He is able to meet his biographer, a woman who knows intimate details of his life, and he gets to meet his great-granddaughter. She is already into politics, and after his legions of fans create a Taft Party, he decides to run for President with her as his running mate. While not popular or especially effective during his own reign, Taft now has a good chance of winning the political race.
Taft 2012 is a fun novel because it not only brings someone back to life unexpectedly, but it also brings a larger than life character into existence. Taft is known for his ability to have marathon speech sessions and for his enormous appetite and corresponding physique. Bringing him into today’s political arena would be difficult, but somehow, it works. It’s fun to bring together history and current day with a fun twist. I truly enjoyed learning more about Taft through real and fake news blurbs that were interspersed into the book.
Two things, however, are a bit of a mystery to me. First, the whole procedure of verifying that this man emerging from the White House lawn is barely covered. One would think that someone who should have been dead for the better part of a century should be scrutinized a little more carefully. Second, for someone who has not been around people and the advances of technology in quite some time, Taft is remarkably good at adapting to modern life. Maybe it is just the skeptic in me, but those seem to be two odd and unexplained situations. Or, maybe, Heller just decided to leave a little to the reader’s imagination.
Rating: There are a couple of sexual situations, but otherwise, there is very little offensive in this book. Most mature readers should be comfortable reading it.