Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America

Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America

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by Edward Behr
     
 

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From the bestselling author of The Last Emperor comes this rip-roaring history of the government’s attempt to end America’s love affair with liquor—which failed miserably. On January 16, 1920, America went dry. For the next thirteen years, the Eighteenth Amendment prohibited the making, selling, or transportation of “intoxicatingSee more details below

Overview

From the bestselling author of The Last Emperor comes this rip-roaring history of the government’s attempt to end America’s love affair with liquor—which failed miserably. On January 16, 1920, America went dry. For the next thirteen years, the Eighteenth Amendment prohibited the making, selling, or transportation of “intoxicating liquors,” heralding a new era of crime and corruption on all levels of society. Instead of eliminating alcohol, Prohibition spurred more drinking than ever before.

Formerly law-abiding citizens brewed moonshine, became rum- runners, and frequented speakeasies. Druggists, who could dispense “medicinal quantities” of alcohol, found their customer base exploding overnight. So many people from all walks of life defied the ban that Will Rogers famously quipped, “Prohibition is better than no liquor at all.” Here is the full, rollicking story of those tumultuous days, from the flappers of the Jazz Age and the “beautiful and the damned” who drank their lives away in smoky speakeasies to bootlegging gangsters—Pretty Boy Floyd, Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone—and the notorious St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Edward Behr paints a portrait of an era that changed the country forever.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Prohibition did not go into effect until 1920, but, with the early Americans notorious for heavy drinking, numerous groups had been trying to ban alcohol for decades. Although there were several well-known temperance advocates in the early 1800s, prohibitionists were derailed by a series of more pressing national mattersthe abolitionist movement, the Civil War and Reconstruction. The "dry" cause picked up speed in 1893 with the formation of the Anti-Saloon League. Led by Wayne Wheeler, the ASL was a formidable lobbying group that was able to turn prohibition into a patriotic issue during WWI. With the conclusion of the war, and with the ASL and Wheeler at the height of their powers, passage of the Volstead Act was a foregone conclusion. Behr (The Last Emperor) tracks the 13 years of Prohibition primarily through the actions of Wheeler, bootlegger George Remus and Chicago mayor "Big Bill" Thomson, and in doing so stresses the corruption of politicians and law enforcement officials that made carrying out the 18th Amendment all but impossible. Behr calls Prohibition a disaster that helped cause some of today's problems by spurring the growth of organized crime. He also sees similarities between Prohibition and the current fight against drugs, and argues that an overhaul of antidrug legislation is long overdue. Although Behr's work is not a comprehensive examination of the Prohibition era, it is informative and entertaining from start to finish. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Library Journal
A&E, the Arts and Entertainment cable television channel, intends to produce a three-part miniseries based on this book, an interesting and readable history of the prohibition era. A journalist by trade, Behr masterly integrates family tales and expert interviews into his account of bootlegging, speakeasies, gangsterism, and racketeering. Although much of his book repeats what is already known about the troubled Twenties, it manages to break new ground by thoroughly telling the story of George Remus, a Cincinnati lawyer who became an influential bootlegger. Several chapters are devoted to Remus's business practices and associations with the likes of Harry Daugherty, Warren G. Harding's attorney general. The Remus story nicely illustrates the pervasive corruption of the period and will likely receive much attention in the upcoming television program. As A&E's interest in the book might suggest, it is written for general audiences. Recommended for public and undergraduate collections.Raymond J. Palin, St. Thomas Univ., Miami, Fla.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781628721065
Publisher:
Arcade Publishing
Publication date:
05/01/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
296,019
File size:
5 MB

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