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9781611450095

Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America

Behr, Edward Author

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“An excellent and honest book.”—The New York Times Book Review

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. 16 black-and-white photographs

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Product Description:

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.

Review:

The Roaring Twenties is one of our most romanticized eras. We tend to look back on the days of Prohibition as a golden time of freewheeling gangsters and gun-wielding G-men, all of whom really knew how to live. Edward Behr's thorough and comprehensive history of that time labors under no such misconceptions. Prohibition, as Behr so expertly illustrates, was a period of rampant corruption maintained by vicious violence and widespread dishonesty. The central character in Behr's story is bootlegger George Remus, who once recounted to the Senate how he was able to sell massive amounts of whiskey as medicine after purchasing a license from United States Attorney General Harry Daugherty. No reader of Prohibition will ever look back on the 1920s with quite the same naive pleasure.

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