Search-icon

Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair

By

Hardcover published by Random House (Random House Publishing Group)

have you read it? rate it!
Histogram_reset_icon
(3 REVIEWS)
ADD TO MY SHELF
About This Book
Few American writers have revealed their private as well as their public selves so fully as Upton Sinclair, and virtually none over such a long lifetime (1878—1968). Sinclair’s writing, even at its most poignant or electrifying, blurred the line between politics and art–and, indeed, his life followed a similar arc. In Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair, Anthony Arthur weaves the strands of Sinclair’s contentious public career and his often-troubled private life into a compelling personal narrative.

An unassuming teetotaler with a fiery streak, called a propagandist by some, the most conservative of revolutionaries by others, Sinclair was such a driving force of history that one could easily mistake his life story for historical fiction. He counted dozens of epochal figures as friends or confidants, including Mark Twain, Jack London, Henry Ford, Thomas Mann, H. G. Wells, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, Albert Camus, and Carl Jung.

Starting with The Jungle in 1906, Sinclair’s fiction and nonfiction helped to inform and mold American opinions about socialism, labor and industry, religion and philosophy, the excesses of the media, American political isolation and pacifism, civil liberties, and mental and physical health.

In his later years, Sinclair twice reinvented himself, first as the Democratic candidate for governor of California in 1934, and later, in his sixties and seventies, as a historical novelist. In 1943 he won a Pulitzer Prize for Dragon’s Teeth, one of eleven novels featuring super-spy Lanny Budd.

Outside the literary realm, the ever-restless Sinclair was seemingly everywhere: forming Utopian artists’ colonies, funding and producing Sergei Eisenstein’s film documentaries, and waging consciousness-raising political campaigns. Even when he wasn’t involved in progressive causes or counterculture movements, his name often was invoked by them–an arrangement that frequently embroiled Sinclair in controversy.

Sinclair’s passion and optimistic zeal inspired America, but privately he could be a frustrated, petty man who connected better with his readers than with members of his own family. His life with his first wife, Meta, his son David, and various friends and professional acquaintances was a web of conflict and strain. Personally and professionally ambitious, Sinclair engaged in financial speculation, although his wealth-generating schemes often benefited his pet causes–and he lobbied as tirelessly for professional recognition and awards as he did for government reform. As the tenor of his work would suggest, Sinclair was supremely human.

In Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair, Anthony Arthur offers an engrossing and enlightening account of Sinclair’s life and the country he helped to transform. Taking readers from the Reconstruction South to the rise of American power to the pinnacle of Hollywood culture to the Civil Rights era, this is historical biography at its entertaining and thought-provoking finest.

Praise
"Lively, unsparing look at the turn-of-the-century muckraker, social critic and novelist who changed the way America did business....Arthur organizes his biography into chapters reflecting Sinclair's various crusading "selves"—e.g., The Warrior, The Pilgrim of Love, etc.—and uses a deft, light touch...An immensely readable biography."Kirkus Reviews

“..excellent new biography.”– USA Today
 
“…a model of good biography.” –Los Angeles Magazine
 
“Absorbing.” –The Wall Street Journal

"intimate and intellectually astute."- The New Yorker
“enlightening, frequently stinging biography . . . Arthur organizes a vast amount of information into a fast-flowing, witty, and incisive narrative.” - Booklist [starred review]
“a well-researched, balanced and fascinating portrait.” - Publishers Weekly
"Neither hagiographic nor condescending, Arthur is an exemplary biographer, interested in human beings for their own sake, in all their unvarnished oddity." - The Nation

“Few authors have led as full and fascinating a career, and rare is the biographer capable of packing the fascinating fullness as compactly– and apparently completely – as Arthur has done.” – Chicago Sun Times
 
“…an engrossing and enlightening account of Sinclair's life and the country he helped to transform. . . historical biography at its entertaining and thought-provoking finest.” – Forbes Book Club
 
“The chapters in Radical Innocent that describe the research and writing of The Jungle – the most famous and still the most powerful of all the muckraking novels – are thrilling. . . .Arthur captures nicely Sinclair's almost absurd innocence, his boundless enthusiasm as he met journalists, welfare workers, labor organizers and the men and women who worked in the slaughterhouses." – Los Angeles Times
 
“…an outstanding biography. I recommend it without reservation.” – David M. Kinchen, Huntington News Network Book Critic:
 
“…a bracing biography.” – Boston Globe

“…admirable . . . compelling look at an intellectual life lived to maximum effect.”– Philadelphia Inquirer:

“engaging and perceptive . . . sensitive, engrossing, and even amusing exploration of Sinclair's complex private life.” - Christian Science Monitor
“graceful new biography.”- Columbia Journalism Review
It is to Arthur's credit that he can make Sinclair not only interesting yet likeable . . . Radical Innocent is not only refreshing, it's a shock to read: a biography of a survivor. . . The author has done a Herculean job of sifting through what must, literarily, have been tons of material to produce a thoroughly readable book about a complex man.- Toronto Star
Radical Innocent is a wonderful gift . . . a vital biography of an American treasure, and Arthur proves himself as Sinclair’s vital biographer.” - American Way [American Airlines Magazine]
"Few authors have led as full and fascinating a career, and rare is the biographer capable of packing the fascinating fullness as compactly - and apparently completely - as Arthur has done." -Denver Post

"The book provides an interesting narrative on an extraordinary American life. It not only offers specific details rendered from meticulous research, but also a historical context that makes it easier to understand the circumstances of the time period in which this "most conservative of revolutionaries" worked."-The Post and Courier
Show less
Few American writers have revealed their private as well as their public selves so fully as Upton Sinclair, and virtually none over such a long lifetime (1878—1968). Sinclair’s writing, even at its most poignant or electrifying, blurred the line between politics and art–and, indeed, his life followed a similar arc. In Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair, Anthony Arthur weaves the strands of Sinclair’s contentious public career and his often-troubled private life into a compelling personal narrative.

An unassuming teetotaler with a fiery streak, called a propagandist by some, the most conservative of revolutionaries by others, Sinclair was such a driving force of history that one could easily mistake his life story for historical fiction. He counted dozens of epochal figures as friends or confidants, including Mark Twain, Jack London, Henry Ford, Thomas Mann, H. G. Wells, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, Albert Camus, and Carl Jung.

Starting with The Jungle in 1906, Sinclair’s fiction and nonfiction helped to inform and mold American opinions about socialism, labor and industry, religion and philosophy, the excesses of the media, American political isolation and pacifism, civil liberties, and mental and physical health.

In his later years, Sinclair twice reinvented himself, first as the Democratic candidate for governor of California in 1934, and later, in his sixties and seventies, as a historical novelist. In 1943 he won a Pulitzer Prize for Dragon’s Teeth, one of eleven novels featuring super-spy Lanny Budd.

Outside the literary realm, the ever-restless Sinclair was seemingly everywhere: forming Utopian artists’ colonies, funding and producing Sergei Eisenstein’s film documentaries, and waging consciousness-raising political campaigns. Even when he wasn’t involved in progressive causes or counterculture movements, his name often was invoked by them–an arrangement that frequently embroiled Sinclair in controversy.

Sinclair’s passion and optimistic zeal inspired America, but privately he could be a frustrated, petty man who connected better with his readers than with members of his own family. His life with his first wife, Meta, his son David, and various friends and professional acquaintances was a web of conflict and strain. Personally and professionally ambitious, Sinclair engaged in financial speculation, although his wealth-generating schemes often benefited his pet causes–and he lobbied as tirelessly for professional recognition and awards as he did for government reform. As the tenor of his work would suggest, Sinclair was supremely human.

In Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair, Anthony Arthur offers an engrossing and enlightening account of Sinclair’s life and the country he helped to transform. Taking readers from the Reconstruction South to the rise of American power to the pinnacle of Hollywood culture to the Civil Rights era, this is historical biography at its entertaining and thought-provoking finest.

Praise
"Lively, unsparing look at the turn-of-the-century muckraker, social critic and novelist who changed the way America did business....Arthur organizes his biography into chapters reflecting Sinclair's various crusading "selves"—e.g., The Warrior, The Pilgrim of Love, etc.—and uses a deft, light touch...An immensely readable biography."Kirkus Reviews

“..excellent new biography.”– USA Today
 
“…a model of good biography.” –Los Angeles Magazine
 
“Absorbing.” –The Wall Street Journal

"intimate and intellectually astute."- The New Yorker
“enlightening, frequently stinging biography . . . Arthur organizes a vast amount of information into a fast-flowing, witty, and incisive narrative.” - Booklist [starred review]
“a well-researched, balanced and fascinating portrait.” - Publishers Weekly
"Neither hagiographic nor condescending, Arthur is an exemplary biographer, interested in human beings for their own sake, in all their unvarnished oddity." - The Nation

“Few authors have led as full and fascinating a career, and rare is the biographer capable of packing the fascinating fullness as compactly– and apparently completely – as Arthur has done.” – Chicago Sun Times
 
“…an engrossing and enlightening account of Sinclair's life and the country he helped to transform. . . historical biography at its entertaining and thought-provoking finest.” – Forbes Book Club
 
“The chapters in Radical Innocent that describe the research and writing of The Jungle – the most famous and still the most powerful of all the muckraking novels – are thrilling. . . .Arthur captures nicely Sinclair's almost absurd innocence, his boundless enthusiasm as he met journalists, welfare workers, labor organizers and the men and women who worked in the slaughterhouses." – Los Angeles Times
 
“…an outstanding biography. I recommend it without reservation.” – David M. Kinchen, Huntington News Network Book Critic:
 
“…a bracing biography.” – Boston Globe

“…admirable . . . compelling look at an intellectual life lived to maximum effect.”– Philadelphia Inquirer:

“engaging and perceptive . . . sensitive, engrossing, and even amusing exploration of Sinclair's complex private life.” - Christian Science Monitor
“graceful new biography.”- Columbia Journalism Review
It is to Arthur's credit that he can make Sinclair not only interesting yet likeable . . . Radical Innocent is not only refreshing, it's a shock to read: a biography of a survivor. . . The author has done a Herculean job of sifting through what must, literarily, have been tons of material to produce a thoroughly readable book about a complex man.- Toronto Star
Radical Innocent is a wonderful gift . . . a vital biography of an American treasure, and Arthur proves himself as Sinclair’s vital biographer.” - American Way [American Airlines Magazine]
"Few authors have led as full and fascinating a career, and rare is the biographer capable of packing the fascinating fullness as compactly - and apparently completely - as Arthur has done." -Denver Post

"The book provides an interesting narrative on an extraordinary American life. It not only offers specific details rendered from meticulous research, but also a historical context that makes it easier to understand the circumstances of the time period in which this "most conservative of revolutionaries" worked."-The Post and Courier
Product Details
Hardcover (400 pages)
Published: June 6, 2006
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Random House
ISBN: 9781400061518
Other books byAnthony Arthur
  • Literary Feuds

    Literary Feuds
    A Century of Celebrated Quarrels--From Mark...
    A submarine's deadliest antagonist is another sub. Some of our most illustrious writers have tried their best to sink their enemies, using all the weapons at their command-wit, humor, sarcasm, invective, and the occasional right cross to the jaw. In these eight profiles of quarrels between famous authors, Anthony Arthur draws on a lifetime of reading and teaching their works to describe the feuds as lively duels of strong personalities. Going beyond mere gossip, he provides insights into the issues that provoked the quarrels-Soviet communism, World War II, and the natural tension between the critical and the creative temperaments among them. The result reads like a collection of short stories, with the featured authors as their own best characters and having the best lines. For example: --Ernest Hemingway on his one-time friend and tutor: "Gertrude Stein was never crazy/Gertrude Stein was very lazy." --Sinclair Lewis to Theodore Dreiser "I still say you are a liar and a thief." --Mary McCarthy on Lillian Hellman " . . . every word she writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the. ' " These great writers are a quarrelsome bunch indeed, and these true tales of bookish bickering are guaranteed to enlighten and entertain even the most discriminating literature lovers.

    General Jo Shelby's March

    General Jo Shelby's March
    Acclaimed historian Anthony Arthur tells one of the most remarkable but surprisingly unknown stories of the post–Civil War era in full for the first time. Here is the unforgettable account of how a famous Confederate general forged a defiant new life out of crushing defeat, and how he finally achieved forgiveness and respect in his own reunited land. General Jo Shelby had been a daring and ruthless cavalry commander, renowned and notorious for his slashing forays behind Union lines. After Appomattox, Shelby, declaring that he would never surrender, headed for Mexico. With three hundred men, some from his fighting “Iron Brigade” regiment, others adventurers, fortune hunters, and deserters, the man Arthur refers to as “the last holdout of the Confederacy” made the treacherous twelve-hundred-mile trip. In thrilling and vivid detail, General Jo Shelby’s March describes the dusty and dangerous trek through a lawless Texas swarming with desperadoes, into a Mexico teeming with Juárez’s rebels and marauding Apaches. After near fratricide among his fraying band of brothers, Shelby arrived to present a quixotic proposal to Emperor Maximilian: He and his fellow Americans would take over the Mexican army and, after being reinforced by forty thousand more Confederate soldiers, the government itself. Though a dramatic, doomed, and brave endeavor, Shelby’s actions changed both himself and American history forever. Anthony Arthur then reveals the astonishing end of Shelby’s career: his return to America and his renouncing of slavery, his nomination by President Grover Cleveland to become U.S. marshal for western Missouri, his eventual fame as a model of nineteenth-century progressivism. General Jo Shelby’s March is a riveting book about a uniquely American man, both brave and brutal, a hero and a hothead, whose life’s startling last chapter is a microcosm of the aftermath of our most divisive war. From the Hardcover edition.

    The Tailor-King

    The Tailor-King
    The Rise and Fall of the Anabaptist Kingdom of...
    He was only a Dutch tailor's apprentice, but from 1534 to 1535, Jan van Leyden led a radical sect of persecuted Anabaptists to repeated triumphs over the combined powers of church and state. Revered by his followers as the new David, the charismatic young leader pronounced the northern German city of Muenster a new Zion and crowned himself king. He expropriated all private property, took sixteen wives (supposedly emulating the biblical patriarchs), and in a deadly reign of terror, executed all who opposed him. As the long siege of Muenster resulted in starvation, thousands fled Jan's deadly kingdom while others waited behind the double walls and moats for the apocalyptic final attack by the Prince-Bishop's hired armies, supported by all the rulers of Europe. With the sudden rise to power of a compelling personality and the resulting violent threat to ordered society, Jan van Leyden's distant story strangely echoes the many tragedies of the twentieth century. More than just a fascinating human drama from the past, The Tailor-King also offers insight into our own troubled times.

    Clashes of Will

    Clashes of Will
    Great Confrontations That Have Shaped Modern...
    Clashes of Wills is a collection of essays that explore the great confrontations of the United States since 1877, looking at eleven areas of controversy that are part of today's news, but whose sources lie in the past.   By focusing on well-known people who represent these issues, the book creates stories that are selective, focused, and coherent, to paint a portrait of the United States in the past century and a half.

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
Quote Cannot be Empty

Submitted quotes are usually posted within 48 hours

ThanksYour Quote Will be posted Shortly
Bookish