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Upton Sinclair: The Jungle and Other Novels

Updated on May 18, 2014

Upton Sinclair - Novels and Biography

Upton Sinclair was a great American author who was extremely prolific. He was known for investigating scandals, exposing wrong doing to the public, and as a socialist and later in life, an anarchist. Although his views were often considered radical and dangerous, many of his works had permanent change on America, introducing rights and protections most Americans today would take as God given rights.

While Upton Sinclair is famous for many works, his investigative journalism helped create the term "muckraker," and he is best known for books such as The Jungle, Oil!, King Coal, and Boston.

"It's hard to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair.

There Will Be Blood, Movie Based on "Oil!" by Upton Sinclair

This great film comes to us thanks to Upton Sinclair

The academy award winning movie "There Will Be Blood" was written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who started writing the screenplay afer reading the first 150 pages of Upton Sinclair's book Oil!.

He said the world was so vivid and so interesting that he wanted to stay in those first pages even more. Daniel Day-Lewis won the academy award for best actor for his role of Daniel Plainview.

"Oil!" by Upton Sinclair is still a classic that is in print even today. Along with The Jungle and King Coal, Oil! is still remaining in print even today. This is a classic book whose prophecies about America's future were grimly and startlingly on the mark.

There Will Be Blood on YouTube

The fantastic movie There Will Be Blood is based on the first 150 pages of Upton Sinclair's famous novel Oil!

Oil! by Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair Oil | Oil by Upton Sinclair | Oil and Upton Sinclair

Oil! is a novel by Upton Sinclair that was published in 1927 after the Teapot Dome scandal. The first 100 pages of this novel was the inspiration for the critically acclaimed movie There Will Be Blood.

This story follows the character "Bunny" Arnold Ross Jr, the son of a rich oil tycoon. Bunny has sympathy for the common oil field workers, and as Socialists pick arguments with his father throughout the story, Bunny becomes sympathetic to their side of the story.

Unlike the intentional darkness from the famous novel The Jungle, this novel is sharper and vivid, with a strong detailed account of Southern California life in the 1920s.

This book captures the constant energy of the times, and the dialogue is peppered with jazz-era slang, which was so new at the time Upton Sinclair chose to put these terms in quotations.

The oil boom that grips everyone in Southern California is just the tip of the iceberg. What is strangest (and maybe the most sad) about this book is how easy it is to relate to by a reader because of how very little has changed in the past 75 years.

We are still grappling with the same issues of political corruption, wage inequality, the life shattering effects of unfettered capitalism, cult of celebrity, and even the youth and car culture.

Even more disturbing are the passing references to American oil interests in the Middle East, something that will strike a chord in today's society.

Upton Sinclair from Amazon - Oil by Upton Sinclair Based on a True Story | Upton Sinclair - Oil | Upton Sinclair There Will Be Blood

Some great Upton Sinclair novels are still in print as classics to this day.

Oil!
Oil!

This novel is classic Upton Sinclair, and director Paul Thomas Anderson wrote the movie "There Will Be Blood" after reading this book. He said the first 150 pages were so amazing and engrossing that he wanted to do the entire movie on that bit alone.

 
There Will Be Blood
There Will Be Blood

The excellent popular movie based on the first 150 pages of "Oil!" by Upton Sinclair.

 
There Will Be Blood [Blu-ray]
There Will Be Blood [Blu-ray]

"There Will Be Blood" on Blu-ray.

 

The Jungle By Upton Sinclair | Upton Sinclair The Jungle | The Jungle Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair wrote "The Jungle," not Sinclair Lewis, and there was no Lewis Sinclair

The irony of this book is that the subjects that Upton Sinclair really wanted to bring to the forefront were secondary in people's minds. Apparently immigrant workers dying wasn't a big deal until they found out the remains were ground into hot dogs.

Upton Sinclair originally meant for his novel to focus on extreme poverty, industrial labor, and working conditions first and foremost. Food safety was the theme that ran wild with the public, especially because of Sinclair's vivid and graphic accounts of workers falling into meat processing tanks and being ground, into meat links.

The morbidity of the working conditions and the blatant exploitation of children and women alike caught the public's attention, as well. Though sadly, the economics might have had more to do with changing corruption than actual public outrage, as the sale of American meat dropped by over half, threatening the entire industry.

The outcry combined with admittance of needed help from the meat packers themselves, and the common public outcry, led to Congress and the President passing the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which established the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help insure that hot dogs wouldn't have any human (or feces or bone or urine) anymore.

The Jungle was first published in serial form in 1906 by "The Appeal to Reason," after five rejections from other traditional publishers. This Upton Sinclair novel remains a prime example of muck raking, and of using fiction to make a point about the true horrors and inequities of society.

The first edition of the actual novel was published by Doubleday, Page & Company on February 28, 1906, and it became an immediate bestseller. There has never been a time when this novel has been out of print since, and remains one of the most influential American books of all time.

Buy "The Jungle" By Upton Sinclair Here - The classic muckraker novel by Upton Sinclair

The most famous novel ever written by Upton Sinclair.

The Jungle (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (B&N Classics)
The Jungle (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (B&N Classics)

The Jungle was a great novel that changed America and is why our food is safe to eat today...and free of human remains.

 
CliffsNotes on Sinclair's The Jungle (Frommer's)
CliffsNotes on Sinclair's The Jungle (Frommer's)

The cliff notes version of "The Jungle." (You really should read the book, though - it's a worthy story)

 

Upton Sinclair's Lanny Budd Series: Upton Sinclair's Epic Series

The forgotten epic series by author Upton Sinclair

The "Lanny Budd" series was an ambitious undertaking by famous author and muckraker Upton Sinclair (author of "The Jungle" and "Oil!"). What's interesting about these books is that they are all but forgotten today, though at the time every single one of these books was a best seller. "Dragon's Teeth" even won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and these novels were published in over 20 different countries.

This eleven book series was written over 13 years, and is loaded with the political history of Europe and America in the first half of the 20th century. The history even seems to be a critical part of the backdrop as the story follows Lanny Budd, a described "Red" son of an American weapons manufacturer.

The entire series went out of print for several decades and became nearly forgotten, as all of Upton Sinclair's early works remained in print. Recently the series has been re-issued, and this time will be released as a 22 volume work, with each book split into two parts.

The Lanny Budd Series:

#1 "World's End" (1940)

Lanny Budd is a teenage student at a private school in Germany. The story follows Lanny, his English schoolmate Rick, and his German friend Kurt through World War I and the aftermath.

Throughout the story Lanny is openly troubled by knowing his two closest friends are involved on opposite sides of such a vicious war, and later he becomes disillusioned by the failure of Versailles to heal the bitterness of both French and British people against Germany.

#2 "Between Two Worlds" (1941)

"Between Two Worlds" is the second novel in the Lanny Budd series by Upton Sinclair, and covers the post World War I period from 1919 to 1929.

#3 "Dragon's Teeth" (1942)

"Dragon's Teeth" is the most celebrated novel of this Upton Sinclair series, as it won the "Pulitzer Prize for the Novel" in 1943. This book covers 1929-1934, with a special emphasis on the Nazi takeover of Germany in the 1930s.

#4 "Wide Is the Gate" (1943)

"Wide Is the Gate" is the fourth novel in the Lanny Budd series, and follows Lanny as he returns to Germany to aid the resistance movement against the Nazis, while pretending to be sympathetic to the Nazi leaders. This book covers 1934-1937.

#5 "The Presidential Agent" (1944)

"The Presidential Agent" is the fifth novel in Upton Sinclair's once famous Lanny Budd series, and covers only two years 1937 and 1938.

#6 "Dragon Harvest" (1945)

"Dragon Harvest" is the sixth novel in the Lanny Budd series and deals with the very earliest part of World War II, 1938-1940.

#7 "A World to Win" (1946)

The seventh novel in Sinclair's Lanny Budd series was "A World to Win," which covers the first part of World War II from 1940-1942.

#8 "A Presidential Mission" (1947)

"Presidential Mission" covers 1942-1943 and is the 8th novel in the epic Lanny Budd series.

#9 "One Clear Call" (1948)

"One Clear Call" is the 9th novel in the Lanny Budd series. First published in 1948, the story covers 1943 to 1944.

#10 "O Shepherd, Speak!" (1949)

"O Shepherd, Speak!" is the tenth novel of the Lanny Budd series, and focuses on the very end of World War II and the aftermath from 1945 to 1946.

#11 "The Return of Lanny Budd" (1953)

"The Return of Lanny Budd" is the final novel in the Lanny Budd series. This covers the period from 1946-1949.

Brief Upton Sinclair Bio

Life of Upton Sinclair | Upton Sinclair Autobiography | Upton Sinclair Biography

Upton Sinclair was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, and short story writer whose works were renowned for their socialistic and activist views.

Upton Sinclair stated in 1903 that "My Cause is the Cause of a man who has never yet been defeated, and whose whole being is one all devouring, God-given holy purpose." This was an ironic quote, considering Sinclair either was, or became, a strongly avowed atheist.

Among Sinclair's most famous books is The Jungle. It launched a government investigation of the meatpacking plants of Chicago, and changed the food laws of America forever. What is often forgotten is that this book also had a lot to say about the abuse taken by people in poverty.

In The Jungle, Jurgis Rudkus, the protagonist, is a young Lithuanian immigrant who arrived in America dreaming of wealth, freedom, and opportunity.

Jurgis finds work in the flourishing, but filthy, Chicago stockyards. First he likes his work, and is astonished when his comrades hate it.

"He had the feeling that this whole huge establishment had taken him under its protection, and had become responsible for his welfare. So guileless was he, and ignorant of the nature of business, that he did not even realize that he had become an employee of Brown's, and that Brown and Durham were supposed by all the world to be deadly rivals--were even required to be deadly rivals by the law of the land, and ordered to try to ruin each other under penalty of fine and imprisonment!"

Gradually Jurgis' optimistic world vision fade in the hopeless "wage-slavery" and in the chaos of urban life. He loses his wife, who was been raped by a foreman, and their second child. In desperation, Jurgis becomes a criminal, and then eventually a Socialist.

The book won Sinclair fame and fortune, and led to the implementation of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.

Many believed this book had the deepest social impact since Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. After that book President Theodore Roosevelt received over 100 letters daily from outraged readers demanding reforms in the meat industry, and this resulted in Upton Sinclair being called into the White House.

The royalties Upton Sinclair earned from The Jungle resulted in him earning enough to establish and support his ideal uptopia: a Socialist commune called Helicon Home Colony in Englewood, New Jersey.

Many famous people visited, and author Sinclair Lewis (whom is often confused with Upton Sinclair and vice versa) even worked as a janitor while living there.

However, the commune for socialist and left-wing writers was set on fire (arson) in 1907.

This made Sinclair penniless. He would write many more books and earn back a small fortune, though stomach problems that resulted most likely from stress dogged him throughout the rest of his life.

Upton Sinclair died in his sleep on November 25, 1968 at the Somerset Valley Nursing Home. His manuscripts and books are at the Lilly Library, at the University of Indiana.

Upton Sinclair The Jungle on Amazon, and other novels - The Jungle Upton Sinclair | King Coal Upton Sinclair | The Moneychangers Upton Sinclair | Upton Sinclair

Many of Upton Sinclair's classic novels are still available in print today.

The Jungle: The Uncensored Original Edition
The Jungle: The Uncensored Original Edition

The book that helped create the FDA (back when it was definitely a good thing) and keeps maggots out of our meat. I'm all about that.

 
King Coal by Upton Sinclair, Fiction, Classics, Literary
King Coal by Upton Sinclair, Fiction, Classics, Literary

Oil has since replaced Coal, but this novel was a great work that showed for the first time how much of an abuse of power many large companies were committing.

 
The Moneychangers (Literary Classics)
The Moneychangers (Literary Classics)

About the Wall Street Scare of 1907, that should have been warning on the Great Depression

 
CliffsNotes on Sinclair's The Jungle (Frommer's)
CliffsNotes on Sinclair's The Jungle (Frommer's)

You should read the book. You really should, but since some college students aren't going to listen, anyway...

 

Upton Sinclair, NOT Sinclair Lewis

Upton Sinclair and Sinclair Lewis, which wrote The Jungle?

Although two very different authors, now decades after each, the two are often confused because of their common names. That being said, Upton Sinclair and Sinclair Lewis are two completely different authors. And there is no Lewis Sinclair.

Upton Sinclair:

-Socialist & Atheist

-A "Muck Raker" known for challenging corporations, oil and coal companies, as well as politicians

-Ran for governor twice

-Believes all fiction is propoganda

-Major works include "The Jungle," "King Coal," "Oil!," "Wide Are The Gates," "Boston"

Sinclair Lewis:

-Won the Nobel Prize for Literature

-Worked for Upton Sinclair's commune

-Wrote mostly fictional novels

-Eventually bashed Upton Sinclair in the novel "It Can't Happen Here"

-Spoke against facism

-Main works include "Arrowsmith," "Main Street," "Babbitt," "It Can't Happen Here," "The Man Who Knew Coolidge"

Upton Sinclair - Most Important Book? - Keeping out the Jungle, since that is the obvious choice.

If The Jungle was here, that would be the obvious choice, so to make it interesting, this poll will not include Upton Sinclair's most famous novel.

Outside of "The Jungle," what is Upton Sinclair's most important novel?

See results

Upton Sinclair Links - Upton Sinclair Information | Upton Sinclair Info

For extra information on Upton Sinclair.

Upton Sinclair's Resting Place

Upton Sinclair's Resting Place
Upton Sinclair's Resting Place

List of Upton Sinclair Novels

This isn't a complete list of Upton Sinclair's works, but it covers all the big ones

Even though this is not a complete list of Upton Sinclair's novels, this list will give you a very good idea of how insanely prolific Sinclair was as a writer, which is especially impressive considering how active he was during life in general.

Upton Sinclair Novels, 1890s

Courtmartialed - 1898

Saved By the Enemy - 1898

The Fighting Squadron - 1898

A Prisoner of Morro - 1898

A Soldier Monk - 1898

A Gauntlet of Fire - 1899

Holding the Fort (story) - 1899

A Soldier's Pledge - 1899

Wolves of the Navy - 1899

Upton Sinclair's Novels 1900s

Springtime and Harvest - 1901

The Journal of Arthur Stirling - 1903

Off For West Point - 1903

From Port to Port - 1903

On Guard - 1903

A Strange Cruise - 1903

The West Point Rivals - 1903

A West Point Treasure - 1903

A Cadet's Honor - 1903

Cliff, the Naval Cadet - 1903

The Cruise of the Training Ship - 1903

Prince Hagan - 1903

Manassas - 1904

A Captain of Industry - 1906

The Jungle - 1906

The Millennium (four-act drama) - 1907

The Overman - 1907

The Industrial Republic - 1907

The Metropolis - 1908

The Money Changers - 1908

Samuel The Seeker - 1909

Good Health and How We Won It - 1909

Upton Sinclair Novels, 1910s

The Machine (novel) - 1911

King Coal - 1917

The Profits of Religion - 1917

Jimmie Higgins - 1919

The Brass Check - 1919

Upton Sinclair Novels 1920s

100% - The Story of a Patriot - 1920

The Spy - 1920

They Call Me Carpenter - 1922

The Goose-step A Study of American Education - 1923

The Millennium (novel form) - 1924

The Goslings - 1924

Singing Jailbirds (play in four acts) - 1924

Mammonart - 1925

Money Writes! - 1927

Oil! - 1927

Boston - 1928

Upton Sinclair 1930s

Mountain City - 1930

Mental Radio - 1930

Roman Holiday - 1931

The Wet Parade - 1931

American Outpost - 1932

Upton Sinclair presents William Fox - 1933

The Epic Plan for California - 1934

I, Candidate For Governor: And How I Got Licked - 1935

Co-op: a Novel of Living Together - 1936

No Pasaran!: A Novel of the Battle of Madrid - 1937

The Gnomobile- 1937

The Flivver King - 1937

Damaged Goods novel {based on a Eugène Brieux play); basis for 1937 movie from Grand National Pictures

Little Steel - 1938

Our Lady - 1938

Letters to a Millionaire - 1939

Upton Sinclair 1940s

World's End - 1940

Between Two Worlds - 1941

Dragon's Teeth - 1942

Wide Is the Gate - 1943

The Presidential Agent - 1944

Dragon Harvest - 1945

A World to Win - 1946

A Presidential Mission - 1947

One Clear Call - 1948

O Shepherd, Speak! - 1949

Upton Sinclair Works 1950s

Schenk Stefan! - 1951

The Return of Lanny Budd - 1953

The Cup of Fury - 1956

What Didymus Did - UK 1954 / It Happened to Didymus - US 1958

1960s

The Autobiography of Upton Sinclair - 1962 written with the help of Maeve Elizabeth Flynn III

Find Upton Sinclair on eBay

I've even found some halfway decent first editions of Upton Sinclair on here.

Was he a hero? A villain? Somewhere in the gray middle? Let us know what you think!

What do you think of Upton Sinclair?

See results

Upton Sinclair Videos - Video Clips Upton Sinclair | Upton Sinclair Videos | About Upton Sinclair

YouTube videos on Upton Sinclair.

Love him? Hate him? What do you think about the lens? Thanks for the feedback!

Thoughts on Upton Sinclair?

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      He was brave to take on the power structure of the elite.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 7 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      You have an interesting mix of lenses. I just read The Jungle this year. It was amazing! So sad. I was surprised that people focused on the meat packing aspect and not the tragedy of the PEOPLE working in that horrific environment.