A familiar midwestern novel in the tradition of Sherwood Anderson and Sinclair Lewis, The Turmoil was the best-selling novel of 1915. It is set in a small, quiet city--never named but closely resembling the author's hometown of Indianapolis--that is quickly being transformed into a bustling, money-making nest of competitors more or less overrun by "the worshippers of Bigness." "There is a midland city in the heart of fair, open country, a dirty and wonderful city nesting dingily in the fog of its own smoke, " begins The Turmoil, the first volume of Pulitzer Prize-winner Booth Tarkington's "Growth" trilogy. A narrative of loss and change, a love story, and a warning about the potential evils of materialism, the book chronicles two midwestern families trying to cope with the onset of industrialization.
Tarkington believed that culture could flourish even as the country was increasingly fueled by material progress. The Turmoil, the first great success of his career, tells the intertwined stories of two families: the Sheridans, whose integrity wanes as their wealth increases, and the Vertrees, who remain noble but impoverished. Linked by the romance between a Sheridan son and a Vertrees daughter, the story of the two families provides a dramatic view of what America was like on the verge of a new order. An introduction by Lawrence R. Rodgers places the novel squarely in the social and cultural context of the Progressive Era.