The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair’s Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics

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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.

Praise

Winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize.

 

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

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