Cover Image: Oil!


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This has been around a very long time and hos thousands of helpful reviews, but I hadn't read it. I just recommend it in general and over the movie, which was well done.

I really appreciate the free review copy for review!!
Was this review helpful?
Although originally published nearly a century ago, this compelling and engaging novel still has a remarkable resonance for our times. Loosely based on real people and events, it tells the story of James Arnold Ross Jr, or Bunny as he is known, the much loved son of an oil tycoon. Although he loves and admires his father, and in his early years looks up to him in all ways, as he grows up he begins to question and later find fault with his father’s business practices and finds himself inexorably drawn to the workers rather than the bosses. His father is a self-made millionaire and a typical man of his era, proud of what he has achieved and willing to bend the rules to get what he wants – even if that means a cheating or even defrauding others. Bunny matures into a much more thoughtful and compassionate person, sees the suffering of the workers and becomes an advocate for them. This naturally puts him at odds with his father and it is this conflict that is at the heart of the book. Although it is clear where Sinclair’s sympathies lie, he manages nevertheless to remain even-handed in his depiction of Ross Senior and never condemns him completely – and in fact although he is a died-in-the-wool capitalist, the father is at least willing to try to see his son’s point of view, and thus the novel avoids being merely a political tract. Sinclair ranges far and wide in his critique of American society, from the cut-throat practices of the oil business at the centre of the book, to evangelism, Hollywood, the press, higher education, politics and corruption. The clash between capitalism and socialism is also dealt with even-handedly and in general the novel is a nuanced and undogmatic portrait of American society in the 1920s. It’s written in a lively and accessible way, with characters that are well-rounded on the whole, mostly believable and from all walks of life. What is depressing however, is how little has changed. This is how it all began.
Was this review helpful?