In 1934, veteran muckraker and socialist Upton Sinclair managed to win the Democratic nomination to run for Governor of California. Running on a blatantly Marxist platform, Sinclair through a scare into the rich and powerful of America who, in the view of this book's author, united together to unfairly slander Sinclair and rob him of victory. Campaign of the Century provides a heavily detailed, anecdote-filled accounts of the campaign and manages to weave in a fascinating social history featuring the most revered figures of recent American history. Over the course of the campaign we get fascinating portraits of Will Rogers, Aimee Semple MacPhearson, Louis B. Mayer, and Franklin D. Roosevelt amongst others.
The book's main flaw is the idealization of Sinclair. While Marshall is honest enough to admit that the man could be a flake, his platform is never really examined in any great detail. Nor does Marshall give any real evidence as to why Sinclair would have been a better governor than his opponent or even why he seems so convinced Sinclair would have won if not for the convenient boogeyman of Big Business. Instead, Marshall seems to simply assume that all readers will naturally agree that Sinclair was an angel and anyone opposed to him was the devil.
This being said, this is still a wonderful social and political history of the not-so-distant past. It should definitely be read by anyone who considers himself to be a political junkie or is just interested in history. Just remember to keep an open mind and not always automatically believe everything you read.
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