Upton Sinclair: California Socialist, Celebrity Intellectual by Lauren Coodley
Had Upton Sinclair not written a single book after The Jungle, he would still be famous. But Sinclair was a mere twenty-five years old when he wrote The Jungle, and over the next sixty-five years he wrote nearly eighty more books and won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. He was also a filmmaker, labor activist, women’s rights advocate, and health pioneer on a grand scale. This new biography of Sinclair underscores his place in the American story as a social, political, and cultural force, a man who more than any other disrupted and documented his era in the name of social justice.
“Lauren Coodley’s perceptive account should awaken fresh interest in one of the twentieth century’s more fascinating cultural figures and his extraordinary—sadly, mostly forgotten—body of work.”—Julie Salamon, author of Wendy and the Lost Boys
“Upton Sinclair traversed the first half of the twentieth century like a rogue star. His prodigious writing and activism in the service of social justice perturbed the status quo, awakening millions to everything from appalling working conditions, poisoned food, and media bias to the rise of fascism and environmental decline. Yet his determination to lead a balanced and healthy life led some biographers to disparage him as less than a full man. Lauren Coodley rescues Sinclair from such critical condescension and reminds us of the many lives that he packed into one even as he moved the lives of both the common and the great.”—Gray Brechin, author of Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin
"Historian Coodley (California: A Multicultural Documentary History) narrates little-known aspects of Sinclair’s life, such as his gubernatorial campaign in California in 1934...Coodley’s biography should renew interest in the works of this passionate writer." Publishers Weekly Review
"Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil! was the basis for Paul Thomas
Anderson’s film There Will Be Blood, and director David Schimmer
has spoken of adapting Sinclair’s most influential novel, The
Jungle. But who remembers that the muckraking author took an
active hand in filmmaking? That’s one of the revelations in
Lauren Coodley’s cogent, critical biography, Upton Sinclair:
California Socialist, Celebrity Intellectual (published by University
of Nebraska Press)..."
David Luhrssen, Express Milwaukee
"Perhaps you’ve seen the bumper sticker: “If you’re not outraged,
you’re not paying attention.” Upton Sinclair was paying attention.
This biography is a balanced but sympathetic look at the idealistic,
passionate man who wrote The Jungle when he was just 25. ...
Coodley emphasizes Sinclair’s support for temperance and women’s
suffrage (and other feminist issues, including housework and
childcare), and she shows how those issues fit together in the
early 20th century. ... I enjoyed this well-edited account,
which moved right along without undue verbiage, and yet gave
a rounded, insightful sense of Sinclair and his times"
Historical Novel Society
"...an invaluable look at Sinclair’s full life and influential work and how much his long battle against worker oppression remains relevant in today’s corporate and media-driven world." — Carl Hays, BooklistTweet
Napa Valley Chronicles by Lauren Coodley
In 1905, Napa’s mayor, J.A. Fuller, announced, “Napa for half a century has been slumbering in a Rip Van Winkle sleep but she has awakened at last.” Back then, fifteen cents bought coffee and a donut at the Depot and Sawyer’s Tannery made soft leather baseball gloves.
In this collection, local author Lauren Coodley reimagines the unvarnished country life of historic Napa Valley through the stories of notables like postmaster Ernest Kincaid, Napa Register reporter Phyllis King, firefighter historian Rita Bordwell and Brewster’s owners Rachel and Larry Friedman. Trace the region’s lasting legacy, from the time when a horse and buggy purchased Browns Valley to the days when art galleries replaced blue-collar businesses and the California grape took center stage from Sunsweet prunes.
"I love the book! I got five copies through Amazon.com, and
have already given some away, but I need more for some more
members of my family. Of course, I loved to see my mother Phyllis
King brought to life in the book, but I'm fascinated by every
chapter. It's so interesting to see history told through the
eyes of some less usual sources... women, minorities and ordinary
people. You get a real feeling for the changes that occurred
throughout the years in Napa, and how they affected everyone.
Some stories are told from your personal point of view, which
makes them very engaging. When you express nostalgia or regret
for changes and transformations that occurred over time, it
adds a real depth of feeling to the book. Great job!"
"From the extraordinary front cover photograph of Napa a
century ago as farmland and orchards to the shimmering painting
on the back cover, Napa Valley Chronicles is a delightful book.
California historian Lauren Coodley has woven a rich and varied
tapestry of stories and photographs from the 19th century to
the present. Although I lived in Napa for 17 years and many
of the names in this book are familiar, I never knew most of
this history, including that Napa had a Chinatown, a Little
Italy, and a neighborhood where descendants of the Mexican land
grantees lived on streets bearing their names. (Full disclosure:
my description of Terrace Drive, where I lived, is included
in the book). I loved learning about pioneer women who farmed
and raised livestock, Japanese laborers, a nurse at the Asylum
(as Napa State Hospital was called), tannery workers, feminist
leaders, and the many other ordinary people who are given a
voice. This is people's history at its broadest and best."
By Nancy Manahan, on October 11, 2013
Napa Valley FarmingAvailable now from Arcadia Publishing, Napa Valley Traditions, and Copperfields Books
Napans tend more than grapevines. The area's diverse soil and mild climate make possible a generous yield of agricultural products. This book traces the cultivation of these products through a chronology of Napa's farming history, from indigenous food plants to the orchards that were planted to feed gold miners -- orchards that would soon function as both therapy and sustenance for the patients in the newly created Asylum. Immigrants from Italy and Germany and Japan and China joined newly emancipated slaves and Mexican citizens who had settled here before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Together they cultivated the land, picked the fruit, nuts, and hops, cut the wheat, kept bees, and tended livestock on dairy farms and cattle ranches. Each chapter begins with a poem inspired by farming or a recipe reflecting the valley's bounty. The scents of peaches, apples, cherries, pears, prunes, and honey linger in the imaginations of thousands of locals, while the trees, hives, and vines continue to thrive wherever placed.