Why: This is the first in a series of several books about Lanny Budd, the third of which (Dragon's Teeth) won the Pulitzer in 1943. It has been out of print for years, but is finally back from a small publisher. The edition I saw on Amazon didn't look too pretty, so I'll probably look for a used hardcover. Now that there is a movie (There Will Be Blood) based loosely on Sinclair's novel Oil!, I hope there will be a resurgence of interest in this left-wing, socialist-minded novelist. Here is what the publisher had to say (edited down somewhat):
While this novel is fictional, it is probably one of the best historical views of the 20th Century. At the same time it is extremely funny. The story is applicable to the present day and the foreseeable future in that it politically targets the desire of the West to control oil flow. It starts during the years of pre-WW I and continues through to WW II. It will give the reader a greater understanding of the world events during that period of time. As said in a review, the character of "Larry Budd is extraordinary and realistically portrayed with true emotion and depth". Upton Sincalir left us a truly vivid perspective of the world at this point in history.