- Format: Hardcover
- Reason: Heard interview with author on NPR Fresh Air: Prohibition Life: Politics, Loopholes And Bathtub Gin
- Note: Although started in the end of May, I did not make time for reading any book until late November, when I picked this book back up at the Library and finished it.
- Map: Washington DC
- Quote: Prohibition was a Failure
- Vocabulary: termagant – untamed shrew
- Vocabulary: timourous – expressing timidity
- Quote: Shoot Out, the Court of Last Resort
- Quote: Bootlegging Bigger than Government
- Vocabulary: picuant – appealingly attractive
- Quote: Seattle / King County share fines 50/50
- Vocabulary: torpor – too lethargic to look it up
- Quote: Escaped on payment of money
- Vocabulary: bier – will there be beer next to my bier?
- Vocabulary: eponymous – sorta kinda not anonymous
- Vocabulary: vituperation – If you don’t have something nice to say
- Vocabulary: lubricious – Slippery, Shifty, & Lewd
- Vocabulary: Bacchanal – it is party time!
- Quote: Every Home a Winery
- Quote: Churchill on Prohibition
- Vocabulary: sybaritic – life as a party
- Quote: Most Treacherous German Enemies: Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz, & Miller
- Quote: New meaning to ‘salting your beer’
- Vocabulary: cheeseparer – do you shave your cheese?
- Vocabulary: mien – the mien of a computer geek.
- Quote: Prohibition was a great jobs program
- Vocabulary: bibulous – fond of alcholic beverages
- Quote: Transferring Profits to Bootleggers
- Quote: Lynching as a Patriotic Duty
- Vocabulary: Dramaturgy – Theater within politics
- Quote: Wars to Preserve Liberty Cost Us Freedom
- Quote: Grain Surplus = Flap-Jacks for Breakfast
- Quote: Blame the Immigrant for Societies Problems
- Vocabulary: elegy — funeral song or lament for the dead
- Quote: Change Always More Animated than Status Quo
- Vocabulary: sumptuary laws — legislating morality
- Quote: Prohibition in Other Countries
- Vocabulary: philippic – tirade
- Vocabulary: osculatory – kissy kissy
- Quote: Drink so Little
- Vocabulary: dithyramb – excessively exuberant speech
- Quote: Syphilis of the Innocent
- Vocabulary: postprandial – after dinner
- Vocabulary: augury – its an omen
- Vocabulary: protean – great diversity
- Quote: 18th Amendment & Consequences
- Quote: Billy Sunday – Hell will be forever for rent
- Starting: Last Call: the Rise and Fall of Prohibition
Book InfoLast Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
A 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.
Daniel Okrent was the first public editor of The New York Times, editor-at-large of Time, Inc., and managing editor of Life magazine. He worked in book publishing as an editor at Knopf and Viking, and was editor-in-chief of general books at Harcourt Brace. He was also a featured commentator on Ken Burns's PBS series, Baseball, and is author of four books, one of which, Great Fortune, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history. Okrent was also a fellow at the Shorenstein Center at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where he remains an Associate. He lives in Manhattan and on Cape Cod with his wife, poet Rebecca Okrent. They have two children.