Upton Sinclair: California Socialist, Celebrity Intellectual
Upton Sinclair: California Socialist, Celebrity Intellectual shows us Sinclair engaged in one cause after another, some surprisingly relevant today—the Sacco-Vanzetti trial, the depredations of the oil industry, the wrongful imprisonment of the Wobblies, and the perils of unchecked capitalism and concentrated media. Throughout, Lauren Coodley provides a new perspective for looking at Sinclair’s prodigiously productive life. Coodley’s book reveals a consistent streak of feminism, both in Sinclair’s relationships with women—wives, friends, and activists—and in his interest in issues of housework and childcare, temperance and diet. This biography will forever alter our picture of this complicated, unconventional, often controversial man whose whole life was dedicated to helping people understand how society was run, by whom, and for whom.
Lauren Coodley is a historian specializing in gender, labor, and locale. She is the editor of The Land of Orange Groves and Jails: Upton Sinclair’s California and the author of three books on local history, as well as California: A Multicultural Documentary History.Tweet
"Historian Coodley (California: A Multicultural Documentary History) narrates little-known aspects of Sinclair’s life, such as his gubernatorial campaign in California in 1934...Coodley’s biography should renew interest in the works of this passionate writer." Publishers Weekly Review
"Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil! was the basis for Paul Thomas Anderson’s
film There Will Be Blood, and director David Schimmer has spoken of
adapting Sinclair’s most influential novel, The Jungle. But who remembers
that the muckraking author took an active hand in filmmaking? That’s
one of the revelations in Lauren Coodley’s cogent, critical biography,
Upton Sinclair: California Socialist, Celebrity Intellectual (published
by University of Nebraska Press)."
David Luhrssen, Express Milwaukee
"Perhaps you’ve seen the bumper sticker: “If you’re not outraged,
you’re not paying attention.” Upton Sinclair was paying attention. This
biography is a balanced but sympathetic look at the idealistic, passionate
man who wrote The Jungle when he was just 25. ... Coodley emphasizes
Sinclair’s support for temperance and women’s suffrage (and other feminist
issues, including housework and childcare), and she shows how those
issues fit together in the early 20th century. ... I enjoyed this well-edited
account, which moved right along without undue verbiage, and yet gave
a rounded, insightful sense of Sinclair and his times"
Historical Novel Society
"If Upton Sinclair had never written a word beyond The Jungle, his stellar reputation would still be safe. The 1906 publication of this revolutionary novel exposing the horrors of the U.S. meat-packing industry led to sweeping food-safety laws and is still widely read today in high-school English classes. Yet, as historian Coodley emphasizes in this reverent and perceptive biography, Sinclair wrote prolifically and broadly in a variety of forms throughout his entire life, beginning with dime novels in his teens onto essays, plays, and film scripts. His novel, Dragon’s Teeth, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1943. Apart from Sinclair’s literary oeuvre, he was a tireless crusader for the rights of factory workers, coal miners, and women. While taking the full measure of Sinclair’s very active life, from his Baltimore childhood to his three marriages, the last in his eighties, Coodley reveals many surprising details, including his friendships with Henry Ford and Jane Addams and his near-miss election bid for California governor. Coodley’s compelling (if, at times, academic) biography is an invaluable look at Sinclair’s full life and influential work and how much his long battle against worker oppression remains relevant in today’s corporate and media-driven world." — Carl Hays, Booklist
Available Now: Upton Sinclair - University of Nebraska Press