I'm a little over halfway through the book, and there are so many good things that I couldn't wait until I finished reading it to start chatting about it.
I've always been curious about how our country went from the ideal of freedom to such restriction in a rather short amount of time. Also, I had a pretty terrible education and was always left wondering about the details of the first part of the 20th century in general. This book does a fabulous job at explaining all of that. Rather than confining its scope to the alcohol agenda, the book explores all the aspects that joined together to make Prohibition a reality. Plus, the writing is entertaining and there are ton of interesting tidbits. For example:
Did You Know?
- The seed scattered by John Chapman--'Johnny Appleseed'--produced apples that were inedible but, when fermented, very drinkable.
- Per capita, multiply the amount Americans drink today by three and you'll have an idea of what much of the nineteenth century was like.
- By 1875 onward, fully one-quarter of federal revenues came from the beer keg and the whiskey bottle.
- By 1909 some 70 percent of American saloons--in New York and Chicago, more than 80 percent--were owned by, in debt to, or otherwise indentured to the breweries.
I had no idea how pivotal this time was for our country. From slavery issues left over from the Civil War and Reconstruction, to women's rights, immigration, and the income tax, and the whole idea of what role the federal government should play in general, Prohibition was much more complex in the making than a simple feud over alcohol. Everyone got involved and used whatever agenda they needed to in order to reach their own goals.
I'm currently reading about California wine country, and loving the insight. Truly, I feel like this book tells a more thorough story of modern American history than anything else I've experienced. And did I mention the writing is great too? I can't wait to delve into organized crime and more details about the social drinking that F. Scott Fitzgerald was so familiar with. This book has been like a bowl full of candy for me so far. Mmmm.