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Monday, September 17, 2012

'New Yorker' Catches Up With EPIC Campaign

Nice to see Jill Lepore with a major New Yorker piece this week which kicks off with a subject dear (dearest?) to my heart, Upton Sinclair's highly influential race for governor of the California in1934--which inspired my book title The Campaign of the Century.  Sinclair had changed his party registration from Socialist to Democrat, and then swept the Dem party primary leading one of the great mass movements in U.S. history, EPIC, for End Poverty Poverty in California.  This inspired what I termed "the birth of the modern political campaign" in response.  Yes, Hollywood played a key role in defeating him--Irving Thalberg even created the first attack ads for the screen.

Lepore focuses on just one stream flowing this incredible race, the pioneering political consulting firm of Whitaker & Baxter.  Although I wrote the first (and only) major book on the campaign, for Random House, and it won a major award, and inspired a PBS documentary--and revealed Whitaker & Baxter's full role for the first time --none of that is mentioned  in her story.  In a blog post, however, she does hail my book as "a compelling account."  She says that Leone Baxter rarely gave interviews but "made an exception" in the 1960s, when it happens that I interviewed her twice in the 1980s, and even sat down with her in the early 1990s--and arranged interview for this fine PBS documentary that I worked on.   I've got another post today here on two errors in the Lepore piece. Also you can read my story about the campaign that's been up at The Nation for a few days (and watch video I helped create), and of course the book, now available in new print and ebook editions.

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