Enjoy millions of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and more

Only $11.99/month after trial. Cancel anytime.

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

Written by Daniel Okrent

Narrated by Richard Poe


Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

Written by Daniel Okrent

Narrated by Richard Poe

ratings:
4/5 (239 ratings)
Length:
17 hours
Released:
Sep 13, 2011
ISBN:
9781442348721
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

Description

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 Americas 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 anti liquor 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 20s 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.

Released:
Sep 13, 2011
ISBN:
9781442348721
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as ebookEbook

About the author

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 two Ken Burns series, and his books include Last Call, The Guarded Gate, and Great Fortune, which was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history. He lives in Manhattan and on Cape Cod with his wife, poet Rebecca Okrent.



Reviews

What people think about Last Call

4.1
239 ratings / 32 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    A really good history with much detail about the 14 years of prohibition, from the beginning to the end. What an interesting time in America ! I learned a lot from reading this book on this interesting topic.
  • (5/5)
    This is not the first book on Prohibition I read, but certainly it's the best so far.
    It covers basically every possible aspect of Prohibition, from the way the movement started in the XIX century, to how it ended and why.

    I like the first part particularly. It detailed the social, ethnic and even religious reasons why the idea of a legal prohibition of alcohol became acceptable in the United States. Many were against it from the beginning, because they thought a federal law should not regulate the personal life of citizens, but the majority finally had they way because of a tightly knotted array of reasons that spanned from social issues like actual abuse of alcohol, to (true or imagined) issues concerning race and immigrants (this part was new to me and particularly enlightening), to politics, religion and economics. I had never realised before how complex the situation was, but here it was detailed clearly, with a lot of documentation and a crisp style that made it easy to read.

    The central part was the hardest for me. It goes into a lot of details about every conceivable aspect of Prohibition, from the sacramental wine, to bootlegging, to the involvement of politics and low enforcement. Some of this was already known to me, some was new, but - personally - I found it too detailed and too much of everything. There wasn't a focus, and it seemed to me as if the matter was all over the place. I did find the information interesting, but I think I'd absorbed it more easily and effectively if I'd had less of it, but more focused.

    The last part was back on track. It detailed the reasons why Prohibition was finally repealed. There wasn't anything particularly new here (not as much as in the first part), but the narration followed a line, and it was easy to read and understand.

    This is certainly a precious source of information for anyone interested in Prohibition in particular, and American history in general. It is well-informed and rich and generally well-written. It does focus on facts more than people and I think this is a weakness of the book. Some important protagonists of Prohibition are merely mentioned in short parts of chapters and I wouldn't even knew who they were had I not read other books on the matter. That is something to complain about, but for the rest, I found it invaluable.
  • (5/5)
    A great book - well written account of all that was going on. Will my grandchildren remember today's times as engrossingly as I revel in Grandpa's days.My only question; which will never be answered; Did grandpa wash out the bathtub before they made gin?Well worth the read - extremely enjoyable!
  • (4/5)
    Interesting and very detailed history of the 18th amendment and how it affected US culture and a whole lot of other things.
  • (3/5)
    An interesting history of Prohibition. I learned a lot, but got tired of reading it by the end.
  • (4/5)
    Very interesting examination of the rise and repeal of Prohibition, of life during the dry years and of the long and short term impacts of the Eighteenth Amendment and the Prohibition movement on contemporary politics and society.