Popsugar Reading Challenge category: A book with a song lyric for the title
A World to Win, by Upton Sinclair
I'd read a couple of Upton Sinclair's better-known works (The Jungle and The Millennium), so I picked this one up in a used bookstore, not realizing it was #7 in an 11-book series. The song lyric it matches is from Peggy Seeger's Love for Love. Both are referencing Marx; Lanny Budd, the hero of Sinclair's series, is a socialist. The book, written in 1946, is set during World War II. Budd is determined that, whatever his differences with capitalist countries, defeating fascism must take precedence, so he works as spy reporting directly to FDR, a personal friend.
Budd is no James Bond. He has no physical prowess or fancy gadgets. He's an art expert who uses his wits and people skills to worm his way into the confidence of Hitler and Goring. He pretends sympathy with the Nazi cause, and (realistically) finds a lot of like-minded people in Britain and the US, at least before the US enters the war.
A lot of the early parts of the book feel like setup, and/or "checking in" with characters from earlier books who don't have much to do in this one. Eventually we do get Budd in a room with Hitler, trying to worm information out of him. Rudolf Hess's bizarre flight to Scotland also has a significant role in the story.
There's a love triangle. Budd's family keeps trying to fix him up with Lizbeth, a beautiful, wealthy 20-year-old who's sweet and not especially bright. But he's drawn to her cousin Laurel, a 33-year-old writer who shares his politics. Curiously, they also share an interest in spiritualism, trying to channel the voices of the dead. They question whether it's real or simply the voice of their own subconscious, but there's a channeling scene that imparts important plot information at one point.
Budd travels through China and the USSR, at one point meeting with Stalin. Budd expresses some skepticism about Stalin, but welcomes him as an ally against Hitler. Sinclair eventually became entirely disillusioned with Stalin and the Soviet Union, and dealt with this in the final book in the series, The Return of Lanny Budd.