The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics
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---- Winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize.
In 1934, voters hoping to turn the tide of the Great Depression backed an unlikely candidate for governor of California: Upton Sinclair, muckraking author of "The Jungle" and lifelong socialist. Amazingly, Sinclair swept the Democratic primary, leading a mass movement called EPIC (End Poverty in California). More than a thousand EPIC chapters formed, much like Occupy Wall Street sites popped up in 2011.
Alarmed, Sinclair’s opponents launched an unprecedented public relations blitzkrieg to discredit him. The result was nothing less than a revolution in American politics, and with it, the era of the “spin doctor” was born. The iconic Hollywood producer Irving Thalberg created the first "attack ads" for the screen, the precursor of today's TV travesties. Hollywood took its first all-out plunge into politics and money started to play the tune in our political process.
In a riveting, blow-by-blow narrative featuring the likes of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Louis B. Mayer, H. L. Mencken, William Randolph Hearst, Will Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, and a Who's Who of political, literary and entertainment stars, Greg Mitchell brings to life the outrageous campaign that forever transformed the electoral process.
A finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, it served as the basis for one episode in the award-winning PBS documentary "The Great Depression"
“Sizzling, rambunctiously useful.” —Los Angeles Times
“Fascinating….a lively, anecdote-filled history.” —The New York Times Book Review
“To read The Campaign of the Century is to understand how the business of electing officials began to get so colossally out of hand.” —Newsweek
“America witnessed a transforming experience, as Greg Mitchell makes clear in his vivid chronicle.” —Wall Street Journal
“There are lessons to be learned herein. Politicians learned them long ago, to the general detriment. Perhaps now Mitchell can help the rest of us learn them.” —Washington Post Book World
rampant and in its most virulent form. . . . These Jews seem to think of nothing but money making and sexual indulgence. . . . They are, probably, the scum of the scum of the earth." Producers submitted scripts or finished films to Breen and his seven associates and accepted major revisions in content, characterization, and dialogue. The Production Code office tied up hundreds of scripts and suppressed some of them. MGM, after laying out twenty-five thousand dollars for the film rights to James
co-op can acquire the reward money they need to survive. Chaplin also convinced United Artists, which he cofounded, to promise to release the picture. Vidor put everything he owned in hock and raised enough money to shoot the picture on an abandoned golf course a few miles from Hollywood. Drawing on life to imitate art, he hired unemployed workers as extras. Vidor had completed the picture this past spring and left for Europe. Reviews in magazines, anticipating its release, were overwhelmingly
about a married couple that tries to write together, had been made into a movie for Carole Lombard. Goodrich and Hackett dubbed themselves "the Good Hacks." Early this year they had collaborated on the screenplay for the very successful “The Thin Man.” Hackett found something confounding and maybe disturbing in his mailbox at MGM when he arrived: a check made out to Louis B. Mayer, filled in with a figure that represented a sizable chunk of Hackett's weekly paycheck. A note explained that the
continuing to abuse him in print would only create sympathy and votes for EPIC. "I would not be severe with him," Hearst told Willicombe. * Like W. R. Hearst, Hamilton Cotton, the state's leading anti-Sinclair Democrat, just wanted to let sleeping dogs lie. He notified the White House that press coverage of Jefty O'Connor's activities had revived Sinclair's chances. "Best let Sinclair alone," Cotton advised. "He is badly beaten." A short while later came this reply from James A. Farley: "I
to Sinclair has taken place in the Bay region," the newspaper disclosed, "where organized labor's strength has made it certain that Sinclair will carry San Francisco and Oakland." Sinclair rallies in these cities last week drew crowds of 20,000. Meanwhile, the frantic Merriam forces, "unable to get more than 50 persons even at meetings where Merriam personally appeared, were forced to take motion pictures of huge Sinclair meetings and misrepresent them as crowds attending Republican rallies. So