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Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition…
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Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 2010; vuoden 2011 painos)

– tekijä: Daniel Okrent (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1,1994412,088 (4.03)50
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.
Jäsen:JRCornell
Teoksen nimi:Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
Kirjailijat:Daniel Okrent (Tekijä)
Info:Scribner (2011), Edition: 1, 480 pages
Kokoelmat:Marin Public III
Arvio (tähdet):
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Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (tekijä: Daniel Okrent) (2010)

Viimeisimmät tallentajatzbarchivist, yksityinen kirjasto, DanteAshton, powkmane, LadyDita, ColumbusCatholic, aaronarnold, ejmw, kikuume, alanreno
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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 44) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
These days "Prohibition" is basically a synonym for "failure", but less than hundred years ago, preventing "the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors" in the US was thought to be a good enough idea to not only pass both houses of Congress, but also all but two of the 48 state legislatures by the fateful year of 1919. Last Call is the story of how the anti-alcohol crusade went from being a fringe rural movement to the unifier of a whole host of widely varying interest groups, from temperance activists to feminists and suffragettes, nativists, populists, evangelicals, socialists, and racists. I was really intrigued by the random endorsements that prohibition picked up (P. T. Barnum?), as it was an issue that cut across so many political lines that almost anyone could hitch their wagon to it. By far the most interesting to me of those political linkages was with female suffrage, as one of the main goals of Prohibition was to prevent men from drinking away their earnings and committing domestic violence; that something as seemingly obvious to a modern reader as granting women the right to vote was linked to the extirpation of alcohol is a reminder of far the political landscape has changed. Even though women ironically turned their backs on Prohibition after the passage of the 19th Amendment (and their discovery that they actually liked the freedom to drink), originally the movements were closely joined. Similarly with the classic liberal/conservative split - back then the progressive movement was gung-ho about Prohibition as a way to improve the lives of the uneducated, largely foreign lower classes, while established interests favored the status quo; whereas now it is liberals who favor laxer alcohol laws and conservatives who prefer restrictions on drinking.

Okrent has a bunch of great biographical detail on the major architects and forebears of Prohibition, many of whom are almost forgotten these days: Carrie Nation, axe-wielding radical of the Women's Christian Temperance Union; Wayne Wheeler of the ultra-powerful Anti-Saloon League; Andrew Volstead, of the infamous Volstead Act; Morris Shepard, author of the 18th Amendment. It's almost impressive, in a way, that these people were able to impose official sobriety in a country where the average person drank 7 gallons of pure alcohol per year (a stunning amount that is three times higher than the average today). They used all the tactics of any good interest group, like acquiring influence with legislators through various means, getting religious groups to sign off on their cause, distributing propaganda to children, wrapping themselves in the flag, and disparaging the patriotism of those who disagreed. Additionally, they tried to embed Prohibition in American society with larger strategies of varying degrees of reprehensibility: first, introducing a permanent income tax to offset the enormous revenue losses Prohibition represented (excise taxes on liquor made up 20 to 40% of federal revenue); second, refusing to reapportion Congressional seats in accordance with the 1920 Census to limit the influence of undoubtedly pro-alcohol Representatives from the cities, and eventually capping the total number of Representatives with the unprecedented Reapportionment Act of 1929; third, changing the makeup of the cities by passing immigration restrictions designed to limit the immigration of unfriendly Catholic or Jewish or non-WASP foreigners. The political angle is important: big-city saloons were vital political bases back then, and even after Prohibition connections to alcohol continued to provide wealth and power (fun fact: Joseph P. Kennedy is smeared as a bootlegger despite no evidence, but many families like the Bronfmans of the Seagrams brand did indeed illicitly make buckets of money).

Though Okrent doesn't really push the connection, the obvious modern parallel to Prohibition is the War on Drugs. Unfortunately there are problems with the analogy that make it seem like drug criminalization will last for much longer yet. First, drug use does not have the same long tradition in American society that drinking does. While a huge percentage of the US has taken one drug or another, drug use has never been legal and widely practiced in the same way that drinking was before Prohibition, so legalization is not seen as a natural "default state" the way that the pre-Prohibition status quo was. Second, while drugs like marijuana are huge cash crops, and the trade in other drugs like cocaine is billions per year, drugs aren't as central economically as alcohol was; few expect legalized and taxed drugs to make up more than a small revenue stream for any level of government. Third, there isn't really a large natural drug-using constituency in the US in the same way as Catholics or Jews with sacramental wine (Rastafarians are a tiny minority), so debate has to take place at a level of abstraction rather than at the visceral level of ethnicity, religion, and nativism. None of that changes the morality or sensibility of legalization, but it makes the debate slower. As Okrent's book shows, high-minded reform efforts don't always make final sense, and what makes sense often has nothing to do with good motives. While perhaps the one success of Prohibition was that it did indeed reduce the amount that people drank, the side-effects on society were nearly intolerable; yet Prohibition endured for over a decade, and was only ended due to the worst economic crisis in world history. We certainly haven't seen the last of these crusades. ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
Generally very solid examination of, as the title says, the rise and fall of Prohibition in the United States. Very sound choice of illustrations, and to my mind pretty insightful analysis of what went wrong and why. Only an occasional outburst of snottiness takes away from giving this five stars. Generally recommended. ( )
  EricCostello | Dec 26, 2020 |
Okrent tells the a story that only occurred less than a century ago, but which shows how much some things have changed--and how much some things have not. Many of the "heroes" of prohibition are entirely forgotten. And the story of prohibition might make for valuable consideration by proponents of modern-day social causes, on both sides of today's national divide. There are strange bedfellows, crooked politicians, intelligent gangsters, clueless optimists, ur-NASCAR drivers, wily pragmatists, muckraking journalists, and many other crazy characters. Oh, and cunning, opportunistic Canadians just waiting to take advantage of the USA. ;-) ( )
  ckadams5 | Jun 19, 2019 |
Okrent tells the a story that only occurred less than a century ago, but which shows how much some things have changed--and how much some things have not. Many of the "heroes" of prohibition are entirely forgotten. And the story of prohibition might make for valuable consideration by proponents of modern-day social causes, on both sides of today's national divide. There are strange bedfellows, crooked politicians, intelligent gangsters, clueless optimists, ur-NASCAR drivers, wily pragmatists, muckraking journalists, and many other crazy characters. Oh, and cunning, opportunistic Canadians just waiting to take advantage of the USA. ;-) ( )
  ckadams5 | Jun 19, 2019 |
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. ( )
  loraineo | Jan 12, 2019 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 44) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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For my sister, Judith Simon,
and in memory of absent friends:
Robert N. Nylen (1944-2008)
Richard Seaver (1926-2009)
Henry Z Steinway (1915-2008)
Ensimmäiset sanat
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(Prologue) The streets of San Francisco were jammed.
America had been awash in drink almost from the start - wading hip-deep in it, swimming in it, at various times in its history nearly drowning in it.
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If a family or a nation is sober, nature in its normal course will cause them to rise to a higher civilization. If a family or a nation, on the other hand, is debauched by liquor, it must decline and ultimately perish.
- Richmond P Hobson, in the U.S. House of Representatives, December 22, 1914
The prohibitionists say that the liquor issue is as dead as slavery. The wet people say that liquor can be obtained anywhere. You'd think they'd both be satisfied.
- Marjory Stoneman Douglas, in the Miami Herald, October 7, 1920
The thing that sticks out clearly now is that for years our politics promises to be thoroughly saturated with this wet and dry stuff. It will warp the whole political fabric, prevent clear thinking - even by those who are capable of thinking clearly - and hide the merits of the men who run for office in a fog of feeling.
- Frank Kent, Baltimore Sun, quoted in an Anti-Saloon League reprint, circa 1922
As was said before upon a memorable occasion when the very incarnation of morality was about to be sacrificed, 'What thou doest, do quickly.' - Malcolm C. Tarver, a Georgia dry, in the House of Representatives, December 5, 1932
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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.

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