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Oil! (California Fiction) Paperback – April 30, 1997
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From Library Journal
Sinclair's 1927 novel did for California's oil industry what The Jungle did for Chicago's meat-packing factories. The plot follows the clash between an oil developer and his son. Typical of Sinclair, there are undertones here of socialism and sympathy for the common working stiff. Though the book is not out of print, this is the only paperback currently available.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"He does his little bit of muck-raking. . . but the glorious story of the oil man and his son rushes on. It is a marvelous panorama of Southern California life. It is storytelling with an edge on it." -- The New Republic
"Oil! remains the most ambitious Southern California novel of the 1920s. . . . Chosen by the Literary Guild, Oil! made the best-seller list. Its sales were helped along when Sinclair, hoping to get arrested, personally hawked copies of the book on the streets of Boston, after it was banned there for its outspoken advocacy of birth control." -- Kevin Starr, Endangered Dreams
Top customer reviews
Nothing further in 1987, but alas, 2017 has opened the curtain and exposed the manifestation of the political/business games written about by Sinclair and Ms. Rand. Being either innocent or niave, I thought the present horrible state in which we find ourselves had gradually come upon us, but it seems it started when we robbed the Native Americans and set up our own brand of corruption. Read this book and ATLAS SHRUGGED and determine if you want to continue to live in a world where your every effort is for the benefit of someone else!
Read it--then read today's headlines--and weep!
That said, the book satisfies a degree of historical interest about the development of the oil extraction business as well as left-wing radicalism in the early 20th century. The first half is relatively satisfying if judged by storytelling standards, but that competence loses its grip as Lewis falls prey to his intstinct toward propaganda.
To a degree this is a competent dissection of capitalism and the excesses of American business in the early 20th century. To whatever degree one might agree with Lewis' political viewpoint, however, it is easy to lose patience with his ham-handed and one-sided view of American labor issues.
This novel clearly loses its momentum halfway through and Lewis simply soldiers on and brings it to its unsatisfying end because he can. Ultimately, it doesn't even work as propaganda, much less as a story, as if the author lost his sense of direction, or perhaps even purpose as he was writing.