Also interesting are the various literary allusions Schlesinger makes, notably Sinclair Lewis and John Dos Passos. He doesn't spend too much time on this but notes the growing disillusionment with big business and the flirting with communism that was occurring in America at the time. Babbit became synonymous with the petty small-minded businessman. Dos Passos went much further, turning his back on socialism, which he compared to drinking "near-beer," and embracing communism. Seems this shift got an even bigger endorsement when Lincoln Steffens concluded in his Autobiography that "All roads in our day lead to Moscow." (pp. 207-209) Schlesinger also notes how the Sacco and Vanzetti case galvanized such diverse writers as Edna St. Vincent Millay and John Dos Passos against the conservative paranoia that was sweeping the country.
Schlesinger notes in a later chapter that for many intellectuals in 1932 "the Communist party alone proposed the real solution -- 'the overthrow of the system which is reponsible for all crises.' Here was an ideal worth fighting for, and a 'practical and realizable ideal, as is being proved in the Soviet Union.' " Among those supporting the Communist Party were novelists Sherword Anderson, Theodore Dreiser, Erskine Caldwell, Waldo Frank, John Dos Passos, and critics Edmund Wilson, Granville Hicks, Malcolm Cowley, and journalists Lincoln Steffens, Matthew Josephson and Ella Winter. (pp. 436-37)