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1 Local Warehouse US History- Temperance and Prohibition

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

by

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition Cover

ISBN13: 9780743277020
ISBN10: 0743277023
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Less Than Standard
All Product Details

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Staff Pick

Can you picture the Roaring Twenties without the presence of champagne bubbles to tickle the senses? Well, legally speaking, we didn't drink a drop, thanks to the newly created 18th amendment. Not that it stopped us. Drinking became the great equalizer of the social classes as cities became peppered with speakeasies and rural farmers made their own home brews. In Last Call, Daniel Okrent offers an intoxicating look into the culture that brought together unlikely allies — suffragists, liberals, conservatives, and religious fanatics — to ban the evil of alcohol, while in the meantime organized crime blossomed and rejoiced. They certainly didn't teach this when I was in school.
Recommended by Christopher J., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

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 antiliquor 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 twenties 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.

Review:

"Daniel Okrent has proven to be one of our most interesting and eclectic writers of nonfiction over the past 25 years, producing books about the history of Rockefeller Center and New England, baseball, and his experience as the first public editor for the New York Times. Now he has taken on a more formidable subject: the origins, implementation, and failure of that great American delusion known as Prohibition. The result may not be as scintillating as the perfect gin gimlet, but it comes mighty close, an assiduously researched, well-written, and continually eye-opening work on what has actually been a neglected subject. There has been, of course, quite a lot of writing that has touched on the 14 years, 1919–1933, when the United States tried to legislate drinking out of existence, but the great bulk of it has been as background to one mobster tale or another. Okrent covers the gangland explosion that Prohibition triggered — and rightly deromanticizes it — but he has a wider agenda that addresses the entire effect enforced temperance had on our social, political, and legal conventions. Above all, Okrent explores the politics of Prohibition; how the 18th Amendment, banning the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating beverages, was pushed through after one of the most sustained and brilliant pressure-group campaigns in our history; how the fight over booze served as a surrogate for many of the deeper social and ethnic antagonisms dividing the country, and how it all collapsed, almost overnight, essentially nullified by the people.Okrent occasionally stumbles in this story, bogging down here and there in some of the backroom intricacies of the politics, and misconstruing an address by Warren Harding on race as 'one of the boldest speeches ever delivered by an American president' (it was more nearly the opposite). But overall he provides a fascinating look at a fantastically complex battle that was fought out over decades — no easy feat. Among other delights, Okrent passes along any number of amusing tidbits about how Americans coped without alcohol, such as sending away for the Vino Sano Grape Brick, a block of dehydrated grape juice, complete with 'stems, skins, and pulp' and instructions warning buyers 'not to add yeast or sugar, or leave it in a dark place, or let it sit too long,' lest it become wine. He unearths many sadly forgotten characters from the war over drink — and readers will be surprised to learn how that fight cut across today's ideological lines. Progressives and suffragists made common cause with the Ku Klux Klan — which in turn supported a woman's right to vote — to pass Prohibition. Champions of the people, such as the liberal Democrat Al Smith, fought side-by-side with conservative plutocrats like Pierre du Pont for its repeal.In the end, as Okrent makes clear, Prohibition did make a dent in American drinking — at the cost of hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries from bad bootleg alcohol; the making of organized crime in this country; and a corrosive soaking in hypocrisy. A valuable lesson, for anyone willing to hear it. Kevin Baker is the coauthor, most recently, of Luna Park, a graphic novel published last month by DC Comics." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Both a rollicking recap of the Roaring '20s and a cautionary tale about how a government's attempts to legislate and monitor morality are nearly always doomed....Okrent's style is bracing and wry, his research is vast and impressive and his insight is penetrating. Intoxicating." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Okrent provides a remarkable breakdown of Prohibition....Okrent asks and answers some important questions in this fascinating exploration of a failed social experiment." Booklist

Review:

"While there are other Prohibition narratives, e.g., Michael Lerner's ably done Dry Manhattan, acknowledged by Okrent, this sprightly written and thoroughly annotated work is recommended for both the general reader, to whom it is directed, and the scholar." Library Journal

Review:

"[Okrent] brings to his account a breadth of scholarship that allows us to put the shenanigans in proper perspective. And while the book at times barrages the reader with more detail than is truly necessary, Okrent is never tedious for long....Last Call is especially enlightening on the politics of Prohibition." The Washington Post

Review:

"This is a great book: witty and graceful, balanced and deep. It is captivating social history told in a narrative that races along like a Bimini rumrunner angling into a South Florida bay. It also lays the groundwork for an upcoming Ken Burns PBS documentary, which is likely to do for Prohibition what Burns did for the Civil War, jazz and baseball." Minneapolis Star Tribune

Review:

"Last Call should be read slowly — the book is as dense as German beer. But consuming these pages brings about a similar buzz, delivered in assiduous research, startling anecdotes and yeasty quotes. Okrent writes with verve; he is clearly enjoying himself....All those who like inspecting the uses and abuses of power, and the influence of religion, will lap up Last Call." Cleveland Plain Dealer

Synopsis:

Last Call is a narrative history of Prohibition. It explains how Prohibition happened, what life under it was like, and what it did to the country.

Synopsis:

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.

Synopsis:

A brilliant, authoritative, and fascinating history of Americas 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 Okrents 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 womens suffrage movement, which allied itself with the antiliquor 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 twenties was the most powerful woman in the country. (Perhaps most surprising of all is Okrents account of Joseph P. Kennedys legendary, and long-misunderstood, role in the liquor business.)

Its a book rich with stories from nearly all parts of the country. Okrents 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 Okrents rank as a major American writer.

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 Ken Burns's PBS series Baseball, and is author of four books, one of which, Great Fortune, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history. Okrent was also a fellow at the Shorenstein Center at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where he remains an Associate. He lives in Manhattan and on Cape Cod with his wife, poet Rebecca Okrent. They have two children.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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kdkoregon, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by kdkoregon)
Great characters of history!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780743277020
Author:
Okrent, Daniel
Publisher:
Scribner Book Company
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
United States - 20th Century/20s
Subject:
United States - 20th Century/Depression
Subject:
General History
Subject:
United States History 20th century.
Subject:
Prohibition -- United States.
Subject:
US History - 20th Century
Subject:
Prohibition; bootleg; alcohol; liquor; drinking; 1920s; Pulitzer Prize finalist; twentieth century; Susan B. Anthony; Billy Sunday; William Jennings Bryan; Sam Bronfman; Pierre Du Pont; H.L. Mencken; Meyer Lansky; Clarence Darrow; Joseph P. Kennedy; whisk
Subject:
Prohibition; bootleg; alcohol; liquor; drinking; 1920s; Pulitzer Prize finalist; twentieth century; Susan B. Anthony; Billy Sunday; William Jennings Bryan; Sam Bronfman; Pierre Du Pont; H.L. Mencken; Meyer Lansky; Clarence Darrow; Joseph P. Kennedy; whisk
Subject:
Prohibition; bootleg; alcohol; liquor; drinking; 1920s; Pulitzer Prize finalist; twentieth century; Susan B. Anthony; Billy Sunday; William Jennings Bryan; Sam Bronfman; Pierre Du Pont; H.L. Mencken; Meyer Lansky; Clarence Darrow; Joseph P. Kennedy; whisk
Subject:
Prohibition; bootleg; alcohol; liquor; drinking; 1920s; Pulitzer Prize finalist; twentieth century; Susan B. Anthony; Billy Sunday; William Jennings Bryan; Sam Bronfman; Pierre Du Pont; H.L. Mencken; Meyer Lansky; Clarence Darrow; Joseph P. Kennedy; whisk
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20100531
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
3 8-page inserts
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
9.92x5.76x1.38 in. 1.75 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Music » General
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to 1945
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History and Social Science » US History » Temperance and Prohibition
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Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 480 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9780743277020 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Can you picture the Roaring Twenties without the presence of champagne bubbles to tickle the senses? Well, legally speaking, we didn't drink a drop, thanks to the newly created 18th amendment. Not that it stopped us. Drinking became the great equalizer of the social classes as cities became peppered with speakeasies and rural farmers made their own home brews. In Last Call, Daniel Okrent offers an intoxicating look into the culture that brought together unlikely allies — suffragists, liberals, conservatives, and religious fanatics — to ban the evil of alcohol, while in the meantime organized crime blossomed and rejoiced. They certainly didn't teach this when I was in school.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Daniel Okrent has proven to be one of our most interesting and eclectic writers of nonfiction over the past 25 years, producing books about the history of Rockefeller Center and New England, baseball, and his experience as the first public editor for the New York Times. Now he has taken on a more formidable subject: the origins, implementation, and failure of that great American delusion known as Prohibition. The result may not be as scintillating as the perfect gin gimlet, but it comes mighty close, an assiduously researched, well-written, and continually eye-opening work on what has actually been a neglected subject. There has been, of course, quite a lot of writing that has touched on the 14 years, 1919–1933, when the United States tried to legislate drinking out of existence, but the great bulk of it has been as background to one mobster tale or another. Okrent covers the gangland explosion that Prohibition triggered — and rightly deromanticizes it — but he has a wider agenda that addresses the entire effect enforced temperance had on our social, political, and legal conventions. Above all, Okrent explores the politics of Prohibition; how the 18th Amendment, banning the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating beverages, was pushed through after one of the most sustained and brilliant pressure-group campaigns in our history; how the fight over booze served as a surrogate for many of the deeper social and ethnic antagonisms dividing the country, and how it all collapsed, almost overnight, essentially nullified by the people.Okrent occasionally stumbles in this story, bogging down here and there in some of the backroom intricacies of the politics, and misconstruing an address by Warren Harding on race as 'one of the boldest speeches ever delivered by an American president' (it was more nearly the opposite). But overall he provides a fascinating look at a fantastically complex battle that was fought out over decades — no easy feat. Among other delights, Okrent passes along any number of amusing tidbits about how Americans coped without alcohol, such as sending away for the Vino Sano Grape Brick, a block of dehydrated grape juice, complete with 'stems, skins, and pulp' and instructions warning buyers 'not to add yeast or sugar, or leave it in a dark place, or let it sit too long,' lest it become wine. He unearths many sadly forgotten characters from the war over drink — and readers will be surprised to learn how that fight cut across today's ideological lines. Progressives and suffragists made common cause with the Ku Klux Klan — which in turn supported a woman's right to vote — to pass Prohibition. Champions of the people, such as the liberal Democrat Al Smith, fought side-by-side with conservative plutocrats like Pierre du Pont for its repeal.In the end, as Okrent makes clear, Prohibition did make a dent in American drinking — at the cost of hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries from bad bootleg alcohol; the making of organized crime in this country; and a corrosive soaking in hypocrisy. A valuable lesson, for anyone willing to hear it. Kevin Baker is the coauthor, most recently, of Luna Park, a graphic novel published last month by DC Comics." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Both a rollicking recap of the Roaring '20s and a cautionary tale about how a government's attempts to legislate and monitor morality are nearly always doomed....Okrent's style is bracing and wry, his research is vast and impressive and his insight is penetrating. Intoxicating."
"Review" by , "Okrent provides a remarkable breakdown of Prohibition....Okrent asks and answers some important questions in this fascinating exploration of a failed social experiment."
"Review" by , "While there are other Prohibition narratives, e.g., Michael Lerner's ably done Dry Manhattan, acknowledged by Okrent, this sprightly written and thoroughly annotated work is recommended for both the general reader, to whom it is directed, and the scholar."
"Review" by , "[Okrent] brings to his account a breadth of scholarship that allows us to put the shenanigans in proper perspective. And while the book at times barrages the reader with more detail than is truly necessary, Okrent is never tedious for long....Last Call is especially enlightening on the politics of Prohibition."
"Review" by , "This is a great book: witty and graceful, balanced and deep. It is captivating social history told in a narrative that races along like a Bimini rumrunner angling into a South Florida bay. It also lays the groundwork for an upcoming Ken Burns PBS documentary, which is likely to do for Prohibition what Burns did for the Civil War, jazz and baseball."
"Review" by , "Last Call should be read slowly — the book is as dense as German beer. But consuming these pages brings about a similar buzz, delivered in assiduous research, startling anecdotes and yeasty quotes. Okrent writes with verve; he is clearly enjoying himself....All those who like inspecting the uses and abuses of power, and the influence of religion, will lap up Last Call."
"Synopsis" by , Last Call is a narrative history of Prohibition. It explains how Prohibition happened, what life under it was like, and what it did to the country.
"Synopsis" by , 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.
"Synopsis" by , A brilliant, authoritative, and fascinating history of Americas 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 Okrents 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 womens suffrage movement, which allied itself with the antiliquor 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 twenties was the most powerful woman in the country. (Perhaps most surprising of all is Okrents account of Joseph P. Kennedys legendary, and long-misunderstood, role in the liquor business.)

Its a book rich with stories from nearly all parts of the country. Okrents 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 Okrents rank as a major American writer.

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