America in the 19th century was a free-wheeling, hard-drinking land. As the cenury waned, several crusading forces increasingly demanded an end to intemperance, seeking abolition of "the Devil's brew". Here is the full rollicking story of Prohibition, from speakeasies to the St. Valentine's Day massacre, from gangsters and bootleggers to ...
America in the 19th century was a free-wheeling, hard-drinking land. As the cenury waned, several crusading forces increasingly demanded an end to intemperance, seeking abolition of "the Devil's brew". Here is the full rollicking story of Prohibition, from speakeasies to the St. Valentine's Day massacre, from gangsters and bootleggers to teetotaler Henry Ford. Soon to be the basis for a major three-part TV series. Photos.
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Publishers Weekly, 1996-08-19 Prohibition did not go into effect until 1920, but, with the early Americans notorious for heavy drinking, numerous groups had been trying to ban alcohol for decades. Although there were several well-known temperance advocates in the early 1800s, prohibitionists were derailed by a series of more pressing national mattersæthe abolitionist movement, the Civil War and Reconstruction. The "dry" cause picked up speed in 1893 with the formation of the Anti-Saloon League. Led by Wayne Wheeler, the ASL was a formidable lobbying group that was able to turn prohibition into a patriotic issue during WWI. With the conclusion of the war, and with the ASL and Wheeler at the height of their powers, passage of the Volstead Act was a foregone conclusion. Behr (The Last Emperor) tracks the 13 years of Prohibition primarily through the actions of Wheeler, bootlegger George Remus and Chicago mayor "Big Bill" Thomson, and in doing so stresses the corruption of politicians and law enforcement officials that made carrying out the 18th Amendment all but impossible. Behr calls Prohibition a disaster that helped cause some of today's problems by spurring the growth of organized crime. He also sees similarities between Prohibition and the current fight against drugs, and argues that an overhaul of antidrug legislation is long overdue. Although Behr's work is not a comprehensive examination of the Prohibition era, it is informative and entertaining from start to finish. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
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