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Oil!

Upton Sinclair

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James Arnold Ross Jr., nicknamed “Bunny,” is the son of a self-made oil millionaire. As he comes of age, Bunny’s sympathies for oilfield workers and socialists often clash with his father and his father’s business partners, forcing him to confront the ethical implications of his family’s wealth and power.

As Bunny witnesses the devastating consequences of his father’s unethical business practices, including accidents and a worker strike, he finds himself torn between loyalty to his family and his burgeoning friendship with an oilfield worker, Paul Watkins. Paul, influenced by his experiences in post-World War I Siberia, becomes a fervent advocate for labor rights and embraces communism. The novel explores the complex dynamics of family, loyalty, and the pursuit of justice in a society driven by oil and power.

Sinclair’s narrative satirically critiques the flaws and weaknesses of all the characters, shedding light on the human condition in the face of greed and inequality. The book offers a profound examination of societal issues, delving into themes of corruption, greed, and the struggle for workers’ rights.

Oil! inspired the 2007 film There Will Be Blood. The novel’s enduring relevance lies in its exploration of the interplay between wealth and morality and its scathing commentary on the oil industry.

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