Schwartz is a talented writer and knows how to keep his reader interested. He does not pull any punches and does an excellent job. Schwartz was a litterary critic and his expertise in this area is noted.
The sections on Steinbeck will draw the most interest. Schwartz sees the young Steinbeck as infatuated with Communism early in his career. He wrote a dreadful account of Communist revolutionaries in Dubious Battle which Schartz trashed. Writers including Schwartz himself, improve their craftand Steinbeck is no exception.
Steinbeck is portrayed more as a dreamer who certainly did have a youthful infatuaion with Communism. However he like many others saw that Communism was a dead end.
The discussion of Grapres of Wrath is a genuine portrayal of an abusive situation. The predatory financial practices, dustbowl and deceptive fliers were all genuine. What is not conveyed is that the Oakies competed with and displace foriegn workers who worked under these conditions. The rarely seen film is shown on Fox Classics on Cable and stars Hery Fonda and John Carradine. It was directed by John Ford who is known for his work with John Wayne but was a visionary in his own right. The Grapes of Wrath conveys a story with excellent well developed charachters.
More to the point if I were to write a similar tome about the Garment Center based upon my experiences I would probably be accused of being an Anarchist. Owners snorting away a business and leaving unpaid workers happened more then once. Owners who paid themselves mid six figure salaries while expensing masuses, limos for a six block walk and a series of trips monthly with no relationship to work complained of greedy union labor.When the company did go bankrupt I did point out all the union labor in my department did not cost as much as her expense account. Bribery of buyers
and supply chain people did occur. The most honest man in the picture was the mafia trucking company. Illegal and child labor were genuine facts of domestic production and who can even fathom what goes on overseas. Yet I know the answer to these ills is not Marxism as this results in Animal Farm permutations. The union reps were also on the take. The answer to those problems was enforcement of exsisting laws but it will never happen.
Upton Sinclair did have Communist leanings and is an entirely different matter. His hack work is not in the same class with Steinbeck . He 100% knew that Sacco and Venzetti were guilty but the cause was more important then actual facts. Schwartz notes that Siclairs clownish personal dealings undermined his run for govenor. Hollywood coworkers he had burned in business trashed him in snippets designed to make his supporters look foriegn and inarticulate. This may not have been an exageration in this case. Sinclair was opposed by Communists who labeled his Epic program as Facist. Yet there was a tiny glimmer that is interesting Sinclair did believe that cash payouts were dehumanizing and this is something that is the basis of workfare. Sinclair claimed that the Soviets stole his ideas. Yet placing unemployed on massive communal farms and the state taking over the film industry or creating its own is Communistic. Sinclairs problem with the Communists wasn't due to
philosophy. His problem was that Sinclair was his own man and did not accept the control of Comintern mediocrites telling him what to think.
Schwartz does punch huge holes into any romantic myths about the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. They were led and abused by incompetants and often used as cannon fodder. They did excecute percieved an actual people who were not ideaolically pure or imagined as such. They were lied to and had thei passports stolen upon arrival.
Harry Bridges was an actual Communist. This is one of the lies presented by the left adnauseum and this is proved by the Venona Project. Communists did engage in violence and there were murders. Yet this part of labor history is swept under the rug. There were Communist agitators who did try and create havoc with the migrant field workers. They worker under aliases and generally looked to exploit a bad situation for their own ends. Schwartz points out that like our revolutionary couch potato John Brown most could not last long in the actual job of back breaking agricultural work.
Communist then and now opperate on a corporate structure and Schwartz compares it to having a job. Communism was maketed the same way Pepsi was as the wave of the future. Mediocrity and fealty to whatever idiocy came from above was the rule of life. No dissent was permitted and people often suffered for imaginary crimes. The Communists had to defend increasingly absurd policies such as pacts with Nazis, invading Finland, Killing Finnish Americans but on the West Coast few took the opportunity to step away from the increasingly odious stench of Communist thugery. This was largely an East Coast phenomena according to Schwartz.
Beamish in 08, Ducky to toss hois copy of the Jungle, 167 building a Lego concentration camp for zionists er neocons er jooooos and John Brown is the UN man unemployed, unread, uncivilized and unintelligent if I left any out feel free to add your own.