My Random House book, The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor -- and the Birth of Media Politics, was recently re-issued in new print and e-book editions. Campaign won the Goldsmith Book Prize, was one of five finalists for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and served as the basis for an episode in the PBS The Great Depression series.
The modern political campaign--dominated by advertising tricks, political consultants, "spin doctors," and attack ads on the screen--was invented in this 1934 campaign. It was one of the dirtiest campaigns ever and also marked Hollywood's first all-out plunge into politics, after socialist author Sinclair swept the Democratic primary on August 28, 1934. Sinclair's End Poverty in California (EPIC) crusade was one of the great mass movements in U.S. history, and the links to today's economic crisis, media trickery and political climate are profound. The cast of characters in this wild and very entertaining tale reads like a "Who's Who," from FDR and Hearst to Will Rogers and Katharine Hepburn. Chairman of the GOP campaign? Earl Warren. And so on.
The movie moguls actually threatened to move their studios to Florida--and then docked each of their worker, including top actors, one day's pay that went straight into a slush fund for Sinclair's hack opponent. More on the Hollywood angle here.
You may enjoy the three videos below, including a look at the first political "attack ads" using the screen to destroy a candidate--the infamous faked newsreels created by Irving Thalberg and MGM. My lengthy piece at The Nation takes a broader look.
Go here to order it in print or as e-book. Hailed by The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and even Leoanrd Maltin at Entertainment Tonight. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen to or read segment on NPR's "On the Media" online now. First attack ad right below and more below that: