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The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics Paperback – December 12, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

A colorful account of California's 1934 gubernatorial race, a forerunner of today's high-decibel, high-tech electioneering. Upton Sinclair, author of the meat-packing expos‚ The Jungle and a prominent Socialist who became a Democrat only a year before the general election, electrified millions with his EPIC (End Poverty in California) movement--and at the same time alarmed, in Mitchell's words, ``an array of powerful enemies almost unparalleled in American politics,'' including William Randolph Hearst, Herbert Hoover, and film-mogul L.B. Mayer. Mitchell (Truth...and Consequences, 1981) follows the nine-week campaign almost day by day, from the morning after Sinclair's astonishing primary victory to his November defeat at the hands of the lackluster, reactionary GOP incumbent, Frank Merriam. In between, California became a laboratory for the modern negative mass-media campaign, as Sinclair's enemies wedded some tried-and-true tactics (slush funds, dirty tricks, voter intimidation, biased reporting by nearly all of the state's 700 newspapers) to some disturbingly effective new ones: a campaign consultant to manage a gubernatorial contest, polling, a direct-mail operation, even newsreels (precursors of TV commercials) that attacked Sinclair. For a history as epic as the campaign that inspired it, Mitchell has found additional dash and drama in a wealth of primary source materials, contemporary newspaper accounts, and interviews, unfolding the campaign through the eyes of dozens of politicians, entertainers, and other public figures, including FDR, Charlie Chaplin, Melvin Belli, Pat Brown, James Cagney, and H.L. Mencken. An entertaining chronicle of the consummation of the unholy alliance of Madison Avenue, Hollywood, and politics. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"To read Campaign of the Century is to understand how the business of electing officials began to get so colossally out of hand."--Newsweek


From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 686 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1468075721
  • ISBN-13: 978-1468075724
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.6 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,039,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By William Hare on January 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Greg Mitchell provides an absorbing account of one of America's most fascinating gubernatorial campaigns, the titantic 1934 California struggle between famed novelist and muckraker Upton Sinclair, who exposed the Chicago meatpacking business in his epic work, "The Jungle," and Lieutenant Governor Frank Merriam, hand-picked candidate of the powerful monied interests who kept their candidate carefully under wraps in a manner reminiscent of the later candidaces of Californian Ronald Reagan and Texan George Bush the Younger.
The race is fascinating in a current context for being the first instance where the ferocious impact of corporate public relations spin control dominated. A smear was launched against Sinclair based on his socialist roots. What was termed socialist in those days, as evidenced later by perennial Socialist presidential candidate Norman Thomas, was a strong desire for regulation, better working conditions, and greater security for the citizenry in the retirement and medical care areas. While Sinclair, due to his Socialist background and controversy over his End Poverty in California program, failed to receive the endorsement as Democratic Party nominee from an apprehensive Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he obtained financial assistance from wealthy Los Angeles socialist property magnate Gaylord Wilshire and many grassroots volunteers seeking security and justice during the ravages of the Great Depression.
Louis B. Mayer, William Randolph Hearst and other powerful monied interests fought hard to prevent Sinclair from winning, or having his platform properly debated.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By krechmer@hotmail.com; Mike Krechmer on September 17, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This book is a (literally) day by day account of the 1934 campaign for California governor. Amazingly, Mitchell's political oreientation is completely invisible (and I had my radar on)! The result is a wonderfully exciting, novel-like political history (divided into nuggets for those of us with short attention spans). Perhaps Sinclair is presented as too much of an idealist, but the alternative may have made the tone more of a polemic. I cannot recommend this book highly enough if you like politics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Pechthalt on January 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fascinating history. We could use an Upton Sinclair and an EPIC campaign today! Greg Mitchell has written an accessible history that resonates today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susie Madrak on November 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Amazing book. Think what our nation would be like if he'd won. There's more support than ever for the ideas Sinclair pushed. If only...
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