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Looking at 1920: A Hundred Years Later: Prohibition
The year 1920 was one of the most transformative years in history. As we reach its centennial, this guide highlights some of that years' most significant events.
Bootleg by Karen BlumenthalIt began with the best of intentions. Worried about the effects of alcohol on American families, mothers and civic leaders started a movement to outlaw drinking in public places. Over time, their protests, petitions, and activism paid off--when a Constitional Amendment banning the sale and consumption of alcohol was ratified, it was hailed as the end of public drunkenness, alcoholism, and a host of other social ills related to booze. Instead, it began a decade of lawlessness, when children smuggled (and drank) illegal alcohol, the most upright citizens casually broke the law, and a host of notorious gangsters entered the public eye. Filled with period art and photographs, anecdotes, and portraits of unique characters from the era, this fascinating book looks at the rise and fall of the disastrous social experiment known as Prohibition. Bootleg is a 2011Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year title. One ofSchool Library Journal's Best Nonfiction Books of 2011. YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist in 2012.
Last Call by Daniel OkrentA brilliant, authoritative, and fascinating history of America's most puzzling era, the years 1920 to 1933, when the U.S. Constitution was amended to restrict one of America's favorite pastimes: drinking alcoholic beverages. From its start, America has been awash in drink. The sailing vessel that brought John Winthrop to the shores of the New World in 1630 carried more beer than water. By the 1820s, liquor flowed so plentifully it was cheaper than tea. That Americans would ever agree to relinquish their booze was as improbable as it was astonishing. Yet we did, and Last Call is Daniel Okrent's dazzling explanation of why we did it, what life under Prohibition was like, and how such an unprecedented degree of government interference in the private lives of Americans changed the country forever. Writing with both wit and historical acuity, Okrent reveals how Prohibition marked a confluence of diverse forces: the growing political power of the women's suffrage movement, which allied itself with the antiliquor campaign; the fear of small-town, native-stock Protestants that they were losing control of their country to the immigrants of the large cities; the anti-German sentiment stoked by World War I; and a variety of other unlikely factors, ranging from the rise of the automobile to the advent of the income tax. Through it all, Americans kept drinking, going to remarkably creative lengths to smuggle, sell, conceal, and convivially (and sometimes fatally) imbibe their favorite intoxicants. Last Call is peopled with vivid characters of an astonishing variety: Susan B. Anthony and Billy Sunday, William Jennings Bryan and bootlegger Sam Bronfman, Pierre S. du Pont and H. L. Mencken, Meyer Lansky and the incredible--if long-forgotten--federal official Mabel Walker Willebrandt, who throughout the twenties was the most powerful woman in the country. (Perhaps most surprising of all is Okrent's account of Joseph P. Kennedy's legendary, and long-misunderstood, role in the liquor business.) It's a book rich with stories from nearly all parts of the country. Okrent's narrative runs through smoky Manhattan speakeasies, where relations between the sexes were changed forever; California vineyards busily producing "sacramental" wine; New England fishing communities that gave up fishing for the more lucrative rum-running business; and in Washington, the halls of Congress itself, where politicians who had voted for Prohibition drank openly and without apology. Last Call is capacious, meticulous, and thrillingly told. It stands as the most complete history of Prohibition ever written and confirms Daniel Okrent's rank as a major American writer.
Bootleggers and Borders by Stephen T. MooreBetween 1920 and 1933 the issue of prohibition proved to be the greatest challenge to Canada-U.S. relations. When the United States adopted national prohibition in 1920--ironically, just as Canada was abandoning its own national and provincial experiments with prohibition--U.S. tourists and dollars promptly headed north and Canadian liquor went south. Despite repeated efforts, Americans were unable to secure Canadian assistance in enforcing American prohibition laws until 1930. Bootleggers and Borders explores the important but surprisingly overlooked Canada-U.S. relationship in the Pacific Northwest during Prohibition. Stephen T. Moore maintains that the reason Prohibition created such an intractable problem lies not with the relationship between Ottawa and Washington DC but with everyday operations experienced at the border level, where foreign relations are conducted according to different methods and rules and are informed by different assumptions, identities, and cultural values. Through an exploration of border relations in the Pacific Northwest, Bootleggers and Borders offers insight into not only the Canada-U.S. relationship but also the subtle but important differences in the tactics Canadians and Americans employed when confronted with similar problems. Ultimately, British Columbia's method of addressing temperance provided the United States with a model that would become central to its abandonment and replacement of Prohibition.
Prohibition by Edward BehrThe story of the disastrous attempt to outlaw alcohol: "Informative and entertaining from start to finish" (Publishers Weekly). A companion to the A&E show, this is a rip-roaring history of the US government's attempt to end America's love affair with liquor--which failed miserably. On January 16, 1920, America went dry thanks to the passage of the Volstead Act. 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. In this "excellent and honest book," journalist Edward Behr paints a portrait of an era that changed the country forever (The New York Times Book Review).
Call Number: e-book
Publication Date: 2011-05-01
Liquor in the Land of the Lost Cause by Joe L. CokerIn the late 1800s, Southern evangelicals believed contemporary troubles -- everything from poverty to political corruption to violence between African Americans and whites -- sprang from the bottles of "demon rum" regularly consumed in the South. Though temperance quickly gained support in the antebellum North, Southerners cast a skeptical eye on the movement, because of its ties with antislavery efforts. Postwar evangelicals quickly realized they had to make temperance appealing to the South by transforming the Yankee moral reform movement into something compatible with southern values and culture. In Liquor in the Land of the Lost Cause: Southern White Evangelicals and the Prohibition Movement, Joe L. Coker examines the tactics and results of temperance reformers between 1880 and 1915. Though their denominations traditionally forbade the preaching of politics from the pulpit, an outgrowth of evangelical fervor led ministers and their congregations to sound the call for prohibition. Determined to save the South from the evils of alcohol, they played on southern cultural attitudes about politics, race, women, and honor to communicate their message. The evangelicals were successful in their approach, negotiating such political obstacles as public disapproval the church's role in politics and vehement opposition to prohibition voiced by Jefferson Davis. The evangelical community successfully convinced the public that cheap liquor in the hands of African American "beasts" and drunkard husbands posed a serious threat to white women. Eventually, the code of honor that depended upon alcohol-centered hospitality and camaraderie was redefined to favor those who lived as Christians and supported the prohibition movement. Liquor in the Land of the Lost Cause is the first comprehensive survey of temperance in the South. By tailoring the prohibition message to the unique context of the American South, southern evangelicals transformed the region into a hotbed of temperance activity, leading the national prohibition movement.