||"A historical political resource."
Upton Sinclair and the Other American Century
|Title||Upton Sinclair and the Other American Century|
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|Last Modified||Craverguy - September 20, 2009 08:23pm|
|Description||Upton Sinclair was the first celebrity to run for governor of California. He published an eponymous magazine and lectured Americans on war, wages, diet, education, the media, and anything else he could think of. He wrote books fast, made important friends faster, and made enemies fastest of all. He won a Pulitzer, but not for the most important book he ever wrote, The Jungle. He wrote a book that Disney made into one of his worst movies. His love life was a national scandal. He lost a fortune financing (on Charlie Chaplin's advice) a Sergei Eisenstein film the director never finished. He lived and wrote and argued his way through World War I, workers' revolts, frivolous flappers, Prohibition, the Great Depression, World War II, and even, at the end, Vietnam. Upton Sinclair never thought he'd be the twentieth century's greatest novelist, but he may have been its greatest progressive activist. He was unquestionably a one-of-a-kind American. |
Henry Luce called the twentieth century the American century, praising the country's industrial innovation, international might, and entrepreneurial icons like Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller. But there's another version of America, one less a cause for celebration -- an America of social injustice, bitter hardships, and widespread inequality. That other American century is epitomized by Upton Sinclair and most prominently depicted in his book The Jungle, an achievement that led many to call him the greatest writer of the century. In Upton Sinclair and the Other American Century, political historian Kevin Mattson presents a wry, insightful portrait of this progressive icon and his turbulent times.
With the publication of his ferocious exposé of the Chicago meat packing industry, Sinclair gained instant fame as a formidable opponent of the powerful forces he saw oppressing the common man -- from religion to unregulated capitalism. Not content to simply sit at home and write, Sinclair often took his show on the road. For the next sixty years, he seemed to be at the center of every national debate, supporting workers' rights, running as a Socialist candidate for political office, exposing corruption in industry and government, and, to the surprise of many of his fans, supporting Prohibition and, later, the cold war.
Upton Sinclair and the Other American Century vividly, and sometimes humorously, captures the legend as he really was: obstinate, ingenious, and occasionally even effective. In an era dominated by wealthy industrialists and the entrenched political machines that served them, this muckraking journalist, bestselling novelist, and professional thorn in the side of power was a spectacular advocate for social and economic justice.