Whispering Wires: The Tragic Tale of an American Bootlegger

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9781592992522: Whispering Wires: The Tragic Tale of an American Bootlegger
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Philip Metcalfe has described his role as an author as that of a "painter who endows a lost world with the personality and the dailiness it once possessed." In Whispering Wires, Metcalfe tells the story of Roy Olmstead, one of the principal bootleggers in Prohibition-era Seattle, and the first major federal court case concerning the use of wiretaps. He writes, "Set into motion then was a constellation of conditions that no one could have foretold. Prohibition had produced a shadow universe governed by an aberrant moral algebra." This historical narrative follows the city officials, Prohibition agents, and rumrunners who chased, evaded, and double-crossed each other during one of Seattle's most thrilling eras.

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About the Author:

Philip Metcalfe was born in Boston and studied at both Amherst College and Portland State University. He was an artist-in-residence at the Centrum Center for Creative Education and the Arts in Port Townsend, WA, had work published in the Paris Review, and was the recipient of an Oregon Writers Fellowship and Amherst College's Copeland Fellowship. His first book, 1933, was published in 1989, and won a New American Writing Award. Metcalfe died in 2002, having just completed Whispering Wires.

Review:

A riveting account of the shadowy world of Prohibition bootleggers, smugglers, enforcement agents, and federal bureaucrats...this path-breaking work of scholarship has the feel of an action movie while documenting the legacy of corruption and betrayal left by both sides of the notorious liquor wars. --David A. Horowitz, Ph.D., Professor of History, Portland State University, and author, America's Political Class Under Fire: The 20th Century's Great Culture War

...Combines the best of both worlds; it's scholarly, yet reads like a good novel. Those with no knowledge of Prohibition will enjoy the fascinating and important story of police sergeant turned bootlegger Roy Olmstead, while historians and others knowledgeable with the period will be surprised at how much they learn. --David J. Hanson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Sociology, State University of New York at Potsdam

Metcalfe succeeds brilliantly in evoking the personalities of bootleggers and rumrunners and the local and federal officials who pursued them...a must read for anyone who wants to understand the triumphs and tragedies of these complex lives. --Nancy Bristow, Ph.D., Professor of History, University of Puget Sound

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