Last Call

The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

Okrent, Daniel

(Book - 2010)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Last Call
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Okrent explores the origins, implementation, and failure of that great American delusion known as Prohibition. "Last Call" explains how Prohibition happened, what life under it was like, and what it did to the country.
Publisher: New York, NY : Scribner, 2010
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed
ISBN: 074327704X
Branch Call Number: 363.41 O418L 2010
Characteristics: viii, 468 p., [24] p. of plates :,ill. ;,25 cm


From Library Staff

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. --

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Feb 11, 2014
  • StarGladiator rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

I have so many problems with this book and the author's telling OR re-telling of history: the impetus for the passage of the 16th Amendment contradicts too many other books, recountings, and newspaper articles surrounding those times; instead of collecting tax to pay the interest on the money loaned by the Federal Reserve to the US Treasury (and the Federal Reserve Act, the 16th Amendment and oil depletion allowance were all passed in 1913) they supposedly passed it in conjunction with the FUTURE passage in 1920 of Prohibition? And painting old Joe Kennedy as a saintly type again contradicts way to many books, studies and news accounts I've read over the years; his familiarity with certain mobsters, the machinations involving his Hollywood acquitions, both of companies and actresses? The entire financial angle of Prohibition, and the entities and invididuals who financed its passage, was pretty much glossed over - - it's not the Anti-Saloon League, as much as who was financing it (just as today we shouldn't be concerned with these " fill-in-the-blank Works " so much as that the Koch brothers are financing them, ditto for A.L.E.C., et cetera). Those who thought up and financed the passage of Prohibition, were the same ones who bought up the distilleries and hooches, and arranged the smuggling routes from overseas, and the youngest bank president at that time (Joe Kennedy of Columbia Trust) was often rumored to be that mastermind! SUGGESTION: Look up and read the court cases involving Joseph Kennedy during his activities in the movie business in Hollywood, quite criminal in nature.

Jul 08, 2012
  • oldhag rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Describes how passage of the 16th Amendment allowed Prohibition to come into being because the income tax replaced the money lost from liquor taxes.
Also, details the division between distillers and brewers: "It certainly didn't help that the distilling business had become a largely Jewish industry - perhaps not as uniformly as the beer industry was German". Most interesting was the observation that, prior to the 18th Amendment, only one amendment prohibited Americans from an action, that was the 13th (which Mississippi didn't ratify until 1995). According to the author, before President Roosevelt abolished the Prohibition Bureau, its last head, Alfred V. Dalrymple remarked, "...that had the ASL been willing to accept legalization of light wines and beer, 'the eighteenth amendment would have remained in the Constitution for 100 years'." Scary thought.

Dense but highly entertaining, this answers the big question--why did the Volstead act become the law of the land? by focusing on the unusual combination of forces that made for prohibition. Interesting discussion of the ways in which big cities were at odds with the 'heartland'--a conflict we still wrestle with.


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