My name is Upton, and I’m a prohibitionist.” Muckraking novelist Upton Sinclair had hoped to do to drink in The Wet Parade what he had done to food in The Jungle. “Maggie May had the overwhelming impulse to save other people from the consequences of their ignorance and folly,” Sinclair writes of the book’s crusading heroine. “She was sure that they were wrong, and that she was right, and so was entirely unchecked by fears as to their ‘personal liberty.’”
Alcohol’s a helluva drug, even (especially?) for those who don’t imbibe.
Rather than spoil the public’s unquenchable thirst for intoxicating drink, The Wet Parade un-whetted their appetite for Upton Sinclair. Henry Luce’s Time ridiculed the prohibitionist novel as a “sloppy tract.” The socialist scribe wasn’t just wrong; he was late. By The Wet Parade’s 1931 publication date, prohibition was a progressive cause better left in the past if progressives desired a political future.