The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
By Daniel Okrent
If you're like me, you haven't spent much time thinking about Prohibition-era politics. When you think about the 1920s you may have vague notions of speakeasies and flappers and organized crime. But how did Prohibition become the law of the land? And just what was it like to live in America in this time of a booming economy and a thriving black market in booze?
Reading this book is a wild ride. You'll learn about Rum Row, which was a line of ships sitting three miles off shore just out of the law's reach. These ships were floating liquor warehouses that folks would visit after dark. You'll also hear the story of a road between Michigan and Canada that was lined with wrecked cars because of the sheer number of alcohol runs to the northern border. Later on you'll discover that many words we use today come from the Prohibition-era lexicon. "Powder room," for instance, was the term for the women's restrooms that many formerly all-male saloons had to add when they became speakeasies. "Scofflaw" was the word for someone who blatantly disregarded anti-liquor laws.
Throughout you'll hear about the big personalities involved. Whether politician, activist, or gangster everyone was vying for a slice of control. Or at least a cut of the profits. More than just interesting trivia, this book provides insight into another era in American history.
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Review by Danny Hanbery