The Octopus by Frank Norris
Based on an actual bloody dispute in 1880 between wheat farmers and the Southern Pacific Railroad, this shocking tale of lust for power, greed, and betrayal plays out during the last days of the western frontier. As the beast that encircled and strangled ranches, "The Railroad" personified evil. Through its owners and agents, it controlled the local paper, the land, the legislature, and even representatives on the state rate-fixing commission. But the farmers were not completely blameless, using such tactics as coercion and violence in an attempt to achieve their ends. Inspired by the work of French author Emile Zola, The Octopus is a novel of remarkable sweep and range, vividly and relentlessly recording social and economic problems of the late 19th century.