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Oil [Hardcover]

Oil [Hardcover]

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Item description for Oil by Upton Sinclair...

This novel originates from the 'Teapot Dome' oil scandal of President Warren Harding as oil barons bribe politicians. It is about greed and the oil boom of Southern California in the 1920's. It is wrapped up in evangelic crusades by shifty preachers and leftist labor activists. "Oil" is a provoking novel as a man and his son plunge into the oil drilling business and all that they do and what is around them. Bunny the son becomes a 'red millionaire' and is a radical strike leader. The 2007 highly acclaimed movie "There Will Be Blood" directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and staring Daniel Day-Lewis is an adaptation of Sinclair's Oil! Read this novel and then see the movie. A Collector's EDition.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   527
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   1.84 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2008
Publisher   Frederick Ellis
ISBN  1934568457  
ISBN13  9781934568453  

Availability  0 units.

More About Upton Sinclair

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) was born in Baltimore. At age fifteen, he began writing a series of dime novels in order to pay for his education at the City College of New York. He was later accepted to do graduate work at Columbia, and while there he published a number of novels, including The Journal of Arthur Stirling (1903) and Manassas (1904). Sinclair's breakthrough came in 1906 with the publication of The Jungle, a scathing indictment of the Chicago meat-packing industry. His later works include World's End (1940), Dragon's Teeth (1942), which won him a Pulitzer Prize, O Shepherd, Speak! (1949) and Another Pamela (1950).

Ronald Gottesman was born in Boston and earned degrees from the University of Massachusetts and from Colgate and Indiana universities. He has taught literature, film studies, and humanities courses at Northwestern, Indiana, and Rutgers universities, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Southern California, where for nine years he directed the Center for the Humanities. Founding editor of the Quarterly Review of Film Studies and Humanities in Society, Professor Gottesman is editor and author of many articles and books on literature and film, including three on Upton Sinclair. He is currently completing a Ph.D. in psychoanalysis.

Upton Sinclair was born in 1878 and died in 1968.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Business & Investing > Economics > Economic History
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Movie Tie-Ins
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Oil?

Very different from the film which is loosely adapted from this novel  Aug 24, 2008
I am sure that many people have compared _Oil_ with "There Will Be Blood," the film loosely based on the novel. Each is excellent in its own way. _Oil_ is a well written, stirring novel, with richly developed and complex characters. The film's screen writer chooses to tell how greed thoroughly warps and corrupts a self-made oil barren. The oil man in the book, J. Arnold Ross, Sr., is a far more complicated man. Although a "greedy capitalist" as is the entire capitalist system according to the author, Upton Sinclair, Ross, Sr. is often a compassionate man. He agrees to post bail for friends of his son's imprisoned for holding "communist inspired meetings" calling for abolishing the enslavement and exploitation of working men by the capitalist system. Ross Sr. sympathizes with some of the wage demands of his striking workers, but is stymied in his support of them for fear of ostracism from a corporate federation to which he belongs.

Ross, Jr., nicknamed Bunny in the novel, is a sensitive, intelligent, and well educated young man. While Bunny loves and admires his father and is the heir to Ross Sr.'s millions, Bunny works against what his father believes, and heartily sympathizes with the ideals of his "Bolshevik" friends. Bunny's sister, Bertie, firmly against and embarrassed by her brother's socialist activities, believes that his behavior is preventing her being invited to join the monied class to which she feels entitled.

Bunny, from childhood on, becomes close friends with Paul Watkins, one of the sons of the family from whom Ross Sr. cheaply bought the land from which his oil wells were drilled. Paul, a true believer in the radical movement, is one of the most important influences in Bunny's life. Bunny becomes involved with Vee, a movie starlet, who, like his sister, is also against Bunny's socialist leanings. Vernon Roscoe, Ross Sr's partner and perhaps the most corrupt character in the book, believes in industry working closely with and even bribing government officials, which Vernon believes is for the benefit of all.

The last section of the novel, where Bunny becomes particularly close with Rachel Menzies, a Jewish girl who shares much of Bunny's beliefs, is fast paced and engrossing, as is much of the book. One of the only negative aspects of the book is the author's and some of its characters' naive belief that Soviet Russia held promise as a model for a worker's state. This can be forgiven because the book ends in the 1920's before many of the Soviet Union's failings, particularly under Stalin, were uncovered. Although the novel ends tragically, there is some promise held out for a better and fairer world for the members of the working class.
I enjoyed this book. But....  Aug 7, 2008
I really did enjoy this book. But, I really enjoy more true to life historical books, and I think this book if done as historic rather then fiction based on history would have done just as good. Having grown up in the cities of Long Beach and Signal Hill, some of the locations used in this book with altered names, to me it would have been more interesting. And I am sure the real life adventures of oil exploration and drilling would have made this book still the page turner that it was. I have not seen the movie, and may not, this book holds it's own.
Highly Entertaining!  Jul 16, 2008
I bought "Oil" because I really enjoyed "The Jungle." I didn't expect the book to be like the movie (which I personally thought was boring and pointless, but that's beside the point) and I wasn't disappointed. "Oil" is much more interesting in its complexity; the father in the book is neither a villian nor a hero, he just wants to do the "right thing" according to his own set of morals ... and he is not helped by his son, who questions everything as young people just beginning to discover the "world beyond the front porch" often do. Upton Sinclair does an excellent job of character development and expertly weaves together the lives of his many characters -- including one millionaire who lives with his actress girlfriend in a mansion high on a hill overlooking Pacific Ocean; methinks this person was loosely based on a real-life newspaper magnate? :-)
On every list, at every school  Jun 13, 2008
The film "There will be blood" is a shameless travesty of the book, which analyses the corruption in the oil industry and the intimidation of the unions. Anyone who admires the works of Ayn Rand should get a dose of this by way of a cure. Even the well-intentioned main characters get sucked into the maelstrom of big business. Unfortunately after 300 pages it becomes a bit boring, as the author tries to put in too much, but by then 99% of the readers will have learned a valuable lesson.
First draft of journalism  May 24, 2008
Deep in this cautionary tail of oil and America, capitalism and communism, money and morals, the oil magnate's son blurts out the prescient words that echo in the midst of the oil crises of 2008: "Dad, there's something vitally wrong with the oil industry" (p. 449 of this edition).

Indeed there was, and is, and is to come (one feels, midway through 2008, only partway down a steep and dangerous slide from prosperity).

Upton Sinclair crafted this classic epic in 1927, taking a panoramic view of the previous 25 years through the lives of J. Arnold Ross, the elder, who progressed from buggy driver to business driver and from Jim to James A. to J. Arnold as the weight of his name kept pace with the weight of his money, and his son "Bunny", who started his life weighted down by money and spends his adolescence and young adulthood digging out from under it. Sinclair transcends simple muckrakery with his scope and skill, and ends up crafting a story with the look and feel of an extended thread of War and Peace (Penguin Classics, Deluxe Edition). The political and social criticism consistently stings, even in these enlightened, modern, progressive days a century later.

Interestingly and amazingly, I was personally privileged to find just how sharply Sinclair's pen had drawn the picture. Early in the book, the century, and the senior Ross's oil career, the boom and bust pattern of the oil industry was characterized by consortium of neighbors bonding together to offer their property for lease to the "oil man". Sinclair writes of the way greed would start to tug at the hearts of neighbor, friend, and relative, pulling apart the legal and cultural and personal relationships, turning friend against friend, and blasting apart the group. The oil man would refuse to deal with the individual pieces of property, taking his offer offer literally across the street. The greed of a few (and their lawyers) would leave all these people's middle-class dreams of wealth shattered (Sinclair poignantly has Bunny revisit the scene of this description at the very end of the book and observe the dusty dream, a fading and never-used guide to the etiquette of the wealthy still given place of honor on the small table in the dingy dining room).

Just two days after reading this part of the book, I talked to my parents who still own 50 of the 160-acre farm where I grew up in rural Appalachia in the far western tip of Maryland. Soaring energy prices and recent successful natural gas drilling in the mountain ranges in nearby Pennsylvania had reinvigorated a neighborhood consortium formed 30 years ago to pool the mineral rights for sale to the coal companies then interested. They had just gotten back from attending a meeting with a modern "oil man," who offered less than some thought they deserved; some argued for solidarity, others threatened legal intervention, and tried to break the agreement. Neighbor stood against neighbor, and relationships forged between friend and blood, sometimes over centuries on land owned in this rural isolated place, were torn apart. I listened in amazement as I told my parents that Sinclair had written the script of the meeting they attended nearly word for word 100 years ago.

So Oil! Is worthy of the punctuation, and remains a vital and interesting book in light of 2008's events--and the much-honored movie "There Will be Blood" for which the book served as the "inspiration." This edtiion is includes a picture of Daniel Day-Lewis as the senior Ross, and will undoubtedly draw many readers to the story who might not otherwise have come--indeed, I began reading for this reason, but found the story strong enough and different enough to stand on its own. And indeed, while Sinclair does provide the main characters and the basic beginnings of the plot, about one third of the way through the book the movie diverges far from the book. The older brother who tips off Daniel Day-Lewis to his richest oil find on the dirt-poor family ranch, practically disappears from the movie, while in the book he becomes a central figure in the rest of the book. And the denouement of the movie is from the script and not the book, although it remains true to character.

The movie is a great classic and worthy of its Academy Award honors this year, one of those epic movies that draws eyes to the screen, even when its characters and plots are hard to like and watch. It fits in the same class, if not quite at the same level, as "Citizen Kane."

The book, as well, is nearly classic, and fits in the same class, if not quite at the same level, as War and Peace (Penguin Classics, Deluxe Edition). Sinclair's obvious disdain for capitalism and naive trust of incipient Communism and socialism draws Sinclair's writing below classic level and makes "Oil!" more of a historical piece than a creditable novel. Still, his sharp eye for accurate detail punctures stuffed shirts and while historical reads today as a first draft of journalism.

Don't bypass "Oil!" because of its differences from "There will be Blood." And don't discredit the movie because it veers so far from the book. They stand strong, alone.

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