There Will Be Blood, And Books, And Articles.

January 15th, 2008 by Philip Swan

For those of you who have seen the fantastic new film “There Will Be Blood,” you may just feel inspired to pursue the themes of the film in your own research papers. Whether it be an English Lit class, a history course, or something you’re taking in film and media, you have a lot of avenues you can pursue using library resources:


The film is based on the novel Oil! by Upton Sinclair. Sinclair was an early advocate for social justice and the library has many other books by and about him. Check out the following, which are all owned by the library:

  • 100%: The Story of a Patriot PS3537. I85 OS
  • The Coal War: A Sequel to “King Coal” PS3537. I85 C63 1976
  • The Cup of Fury HV5060. S5
  • The Goose-Step: A Study of American Education LA226.S5
  • The Goslings, A Study of the American Schools LA210.S45 1924
  • The Jungle PS3537. I85 J85 1988
  • Mammonart PS3537. I85 M3 1925
  • Marie Antoinette: A Play PS3537. I85 M35 1939
  • Money Writes!: A Study of American Literature PS221.S6 1927
  • Presidential Agent PS3537. I85 P7
  • Sergei Eisenstein and Upton Sinclair: The Making and Unmaking of Que Viva Mexico! PN1997.Q37
  • Terror in Russia? Two Views DK267.S53
  • Upton Sinclair Presents William Fox PN1998.A3 F67
  • A World to Win PS3537. I85 W59 1946
  • World’s End PS3537. I85 W62

There are, of course, several history books in the collection that explore the boom years of Texas oil. Take a look at:

  • Jazz Age Boomtown by Jerome RodnitzkyF394.B78 R63 1997
  • Oil Booms: Social Change in Five Texas Townsby Roger M. Olien and Diana Davids Olien HT123.5T4046 1982
  • A Saga of Wealth: The Rise of the Texas Oilmen by James Presley HD9567.T3P73 1978
  • The Last Boomby James A. Clark and Michel T. Halbouty TN872.T4C54


For those of you of a more cinematic bent, you might want to compare “There Will Be Blood” with another great film from 1956 about oil, Texas, and familial troubles that the library owns on video: “Written on the Wind.” Starring Lauren Bacall, Rock Hudson, and Robert Stack, the film is based on a 1901 novel by Robert Wilder which explores the family of a Texas oil magnate whose dynasty begins to crumble due to the activities of his pleasure seeking children. A lack of morality and character leads to ruin and death.


There are also articles galore on both Upton Sinclair and the current film if you look at the Lexis Nexis database and type in “There Will Be Blood” and “Upton Sinclair”. A sample of current hits:

There are academic articles to consider in the database America: History and Life. Two intriguing examples:

  • “Upton Sinclair and Hollywood” by Peter A. Soderbergh. Midwest Quarterly 1970 11(2): 173-191
    An account of Sinclair’s war with Hollywood. Sinclair and the motion picture industry both took residence in the Los Angeles are in 1915. Sinclair published a Socialist magazine beginning in 1918, ran for Congress in 1920 and 1922, and for Governor in 1926. In 1927 he aimed his guns on the movies with two books, Money Writes and Oil!, with scathing surveys of American literature and cinema. He vituperated the weaknesses of Hollywood with merciless prose until 1935. The studios returned fire in the form of rejecting all his movie production efforts and Sinclair responded with Upton Sinclair Presents William Fox, which exposed the brutal milieu in which William Fox lost control of his company. When Sinclair ran for Governor in 1934 on a platform advocating State income tax and higher taxes on corporations, the movie industry unleashed a campaign in which all theaters joined in a concerted action to defeat him, and they did.
  • “Nature Lovers” by Eve Oishi. Radical History Review 1999 (74): 197-206
    Reviews Mike Davis’s Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster (1998), Upton Sinclair’s Oil! (1927, reprinted 1997), and Susan G. Davis’s Spectacular Nature: Corporate Culture and the Sea World Experience (1997). All three works examine the blurred line between nature and culture in Southern California, and how the social construction of nature serves the interests of the wealthy. Mike Davis concentrates on how man-made disasters are represented as natural in order to benefit the wealthy. Sinclair shows how the exploitation of a natural resource led to the exploitation of workers as well. Susan Davis shows that Sea World has been carefully crafted and re-crafted to identify consumption as an environmental concern.
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