As a college sophomore in 1974 I read “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair. The thought of becoming a vegetarian had been on my mind for some time and the impact The Jungle had on me led me to becoming a vegetarian almost overnight. The degradation and inhumanity towards the workers and the animals made an indelible impression on me. In the middle of the last decade I reread “The Jungle".

In the summer of 2009 I watched the movie "There Will Be Blood" starring Daniel Day-Lewis which was partly based on the novel "Oil" from Upton Sinclair written in 1927. The movie earned eight Oscar nominations and two Oscars. At the end of the movie credit was given to Upton’s book "Oil". That end of the movie credit rekindled my interest in Upton’s writings. I read Oil and I loved the book and decided to search for more of Upton’s work. I had no idea that Upton had written 90 books and so I started with “King Coal”, because it related to my Appalachian background and then read “The Moneychangers”, the Profits of Religion” and then a biography of Upton’s life called “Radical Innocent" by Professor Anthony Arthur. I wanted to read more of Upton’s works and searched and was undecided between “Boston” and “Dragon’s Teeth”.

And thus began my love affair with the Lanny Budd Series as I read "Dragon’s Teeth". I had no knowledge of Lanny and his life up to the point in this, the third of the eleven book series and the 1943 Pulitzer Prize Winner, when he is in his late teens and early twenties. I was not aware of how this son of a millionaire who lived among the powerful, the affluent and the privileged had grown and evolved into the man I meet in :"Dragon’s Teeth". I just found him to be principled and idealistic and deeply troubled by a conflicted soul. He marries a $23 million dollar heiress and never wants for anything materialistic. He was living luxurious life. But he is constantly troubled about the economic, political and social injustices he sees all around Europe. I learn he loves humanity and art and desires peace, justice and friendship above all things.

Lanny was as intriguing a character as I had ever read.  I knew I had to begin with the first book and read the entire series. And oh what an adventure and odyssey it was to become. I had read "War & Peace" several times, the unabridged "Les Miserables" and most of Charles Dickens novels and as well as many of Dostoevsky’s classics. But the sheer scope and time covered in this series far exceeded anything I had ever tackled.

I acquired the other ten books in the series. To my dismay, I found they were all out of print and had to be purchased on the secondary market. Frederick located all ten and I hadd to purchase them in the after market. They were all but one Viking Press first editions and near mint condition. I read them with the eagerness of a child who awaits Santa Claus. It took me about six weeks, some 6600 pages to savor all ten books.

Upton wrote prior to writing "World’s End":  But all the time I was watching world events and hearing stories, and I suppose that whoever or whatever it is that works in the subconscious mind of a novelist was having his or her or its way with me; the big theme was stalking me and was bound to catch up. I saw the rise of Mussolini, and of Hitler, and of Franco; the dreadful agony of Spain wrung my heart; then I saw Munich, and said to myself, “This is the end; the end of our world.”  Upton wrote the 11 book epic series over 13 years, almost exclusively from his Southern California home in his garden. Despite having lived in Europe just 15 months of his life, his command of the people, facts and languages is astounding. It is estimated there are over two million words in these eleven historical novels.

As I read “World’s End” I was absolutely captivated by the characters, the intrigues, the places and the great historical events that were unfolding. But beyond the great historical references, the story is wonderfully told, and Lanny Budd's character is extraordinarily and realistically portrayed with true emotion and depth. You can truly feel yourself being in Lanny’s world and you feel like you are right there in each scene as history is made. You enjoy the transformation of Lanny from a precocious young teenager to a man of many talents. He is suave and debonair but a man conflicted about the easy and pleasant life he enjoys and his love and pain for the poor, the dispossessed and the political tyranny that surrounds his beloved Europe. 

"World’s End" begins when Lanny is a precocious 13 years old. At age nineteen after an idyllic childhood spent primarily on the Rivera, mixing with the working people and the rich and powerful he meets through his father and his business partners and, through his mother and her influential friends, the upper crust of European social affairs. He accompanies his father to Versailles at the close of World War I as an interpreter because of his excellent command of foreign languages. He develops lifelong friendships with important figures he meets at the Peace Conference who play important parts throughout the epic series. World’s End calls attention to the harsh attitudes of the Allied leaders towards the defeated German people, and foreshadows the miseries they caused in post-war Germany which were to lay the groundwork for the rise of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco. Later novels in this series follow Lanny, as a member of the French Underground, daring rescues of political prisoners in Spain and Germany through the Second World War and as a special agent for eight years to President Franklin Roosevelt. Lanny meets with Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, General Patton, Hermann Goring, Rudolph Hess, and Adolph Hilter, Henry Ford and Randolph Hearst and many more titans over the course of the first 10 books. This epic series takes you from the French Rivera, to Paris, London, Berlin, Moscow, Hong Kong, China, Russia, Washington D.C., New York, Florida and California. Lanny encounters many dangerous missions and has numerous escapes from the Franco, Mussolini and Hitler gangsters. 

I also loved these books because of the insight and the behind the scenes look into the interconnected big cartels that enabled Hitler, Mussolini and Franco to rise to power and dominate European affairs. I recoiled with horror and pain at the acquiescence of the French, British and Austrian leaders towards Nazism and Hitler to prevent World War Two. The destruction and human costs as a result of the rise of these dictators and their subsequent actions had a profound effect on the world for decades to come. Think about the Cold War and Joseph Stalin after the end of the Second World War

This epic series is told through the protagonist Lanny Budd, his mother Beauty (divorced, but never actually married to Lanny’s father due to Robbie’s puritanical father, who forbid Robbie from marrying Beauty because she had posed nude for an artist), his father Robbie and his wife and children in Newcastle Connecticut, friends Rick and his wife Nina and Kurt and his family, the Robin family, Monk and the many “underground” resistance leaders and groups Lanny supports both financially and emotionally. We meet an enormous number of people from the aristocracy and big business of Europe. Lanny fulfills his love of art by becoming an art expert and through the commissions he earns buying and selling masterpieces from the great artists (most importantly, his step-father Marcel Detaze) of Europe, he supports himself as well as the causes he believes in. And it is through his art business and through contacts of his father that he meets the richest and most powerful and influential leaders in Europe. It is also through his art business that he is able to infiltrate the Nazi’s and pose as a Nazi sympathizer for so long a period of time.

I decided these books were important historically and became interested in ways to enable everyone who cherished a fuller understanding of European and United States history from 1913 through 1947 to own them. Not a lot has changed as a result of these two great World Wars. The breakup of the Ottoman and Austrian empires and the formation of smaller nations in the Middle East, following the end of World War One, with the vast oil reserves in these newly created countries are directly related to today’s world focus on the Middle East and oil. Think about the United States unprovoked invasion of Iraq.

As George Bernard Shaw wrote: “When people ask me what has happened in my long lifetime, I do not refer them to the newspaper files and to the authorities, but to Upton Sinclair’s novels,” I personally learned more about the history of World War One and World War Two through the beginning of the Cold War than I had ever learned in high school and college. 

As Georg Brandes notes in his Introduction to Sinclair's King Coal (1917) “. . . . Sinclair is one of the not too many writers who have consecrated their lives to the agitation for social justice, and who have also enrolled their art in the service of a set purpose."

I then decided I had to make every effort to make these magnificent books (all were best sellers when published and were sold in over twenty countries) available for more fans of Upton Sinclair and 'world history' from the first half of the 20th century so I contacted Frederick Ellis who self published "Dragon's Teeth" in a beautiful hardbound edition, and offered to help him to publish the entire series. He responded that he would like to do that and asked me to become a Patron of Upton Sinclair in order to bring the entire series back into publication. Frederick Ellis is my partner and friend and the expert on the production end of the book business. With the publication of these eleven books, he will have produced over 80 total books. So please feel free to browse the "Buy Books" tab or the "Contact" tab.  This site was my tribute to a wonderful man who greatly influenced my life, not just about selling the Lanny Budd Series, though these are of course what got me started with the site.

Stephen Courts, 
Columbus, Ohio 
January 2011

The forgotten epic Lanny Budd series from Upton Sinclair's: 

The Lanny Budd Series:

Complete summaries are available on the Lanny Budd Series Tab. 

#1 "World's End" (1940)
Lanny Budd is a teenage student at a private school in Germany. The story follows Lanny, his English schoolmate Rick, and his German friend Kurt through World War I and the aftermath.

Through out the story Lanny is openly troubled by knowing his two closest friends are involved on opposite sides of such a vicious war, and later he becomes disillusioned by the failure of Versailles to heal the bitterness of both French and British people against Germany.

#2 "Between Two Worlds" (1941)
"Between Two Worlds" is the second novel in the Lanny Budd series by Upton Sinclair, and covers the post World War I period from 1919 to 1929.

#3 "Dragon's Teeth" (1942)
"Dragon's Teeth" is the most celebrated novel of this Upton Sinclair series, as it won the "Pulitzer Prize for the Novel" in 1943. This book covers 1929-1934, with a special emphasis on the Nazi takeover of Germany in the 1930s.

#4 "Wide Is the Gate" (1943)
"Wide Is the Gate" is the fourth novel in the Lanny Budd series, and follows Lanny as he returns to Germany to aid the resistance movement against the Nazis, while pretending to be sympathetic to the Nazi leaders. This book covers 1934-1937.

#5 "Presidential Agent" (1944)
"The Presidential Agent" is the fifth novel in Upton Sinclair's once famous Lanny Budd series, and covers only two years 1937 and 1938.

#6 "Dragon Harvest" (1945)
"Dragon Harvest" is the sixth novel in the Lanny Budd series and deals with the very earliest part of World War II, 1938-1940.

#7 "A World to Win" (1946)
The seventh novel in Sinclair's Lanny Budd series was "A World to Win," which covers the first part of World War II from 1940-1942.

#8 "Presidential Mission" (1947)
"Presidential Mission" covers 1942-1943 and is the 8th novel in the epic Lanny Budd series.

#9 "One Clear Call" (1948)
"One Clear Call" is the 9th novel in the Lanny Budd series. First published in 1948, the story covers 1943 to 1944.

#10 "O Shepherd, Speak!" (1949)
"O Shepherd, Speak!" is the tenth novel of the Lanny Budd series, and focuses on the very end of World War II and the aftermath from 1945 to 1946.

#11 "The Return of Lanny Budd" (1953)
"The Return of Lanny Budd" is the final novel in the Lanny Budd series. This covers the period from 1946-1949 and the beginning of the Cold War. 

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