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1 Local Warehouse US History- Temperance and Prohibition

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition


Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition Cover

ISBN13: 9780743277020
ISBN10: 0743277023
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Less Than Standard
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Last Call andlt;link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="../styles/9781439171691.css"andgt; andlt;link rel="stylesheet" type="application/vnd.adobe-page-template+xml" href="../styles/page-template.xpgt"andgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;a id="page_1"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;Prologueandlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;img width="250" height="7" src="../images/common.jpg" alt="author"andgt;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;January 16, 1920andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;THE STREETS OF San Franciscoandlt;a id="ifnote1"andgt;andlt;/aandgt; were jammed. A frenzy of cars, trucks, wagons, and every other imaginable form of conveyance crisscrossed the town and battled its steepest hills. Porches, staircase landings, and sidewalks were piled high with boxes and crates delivered on the last possible day before transporting their contents would become illegal. The next morning, the Chronicle reported that people whose beer, liquor, and wine had not arrived by midnight were left to stand in their doorways and#8220;with haggard faces and glittering eyes.and#8221; Just two weeks earlier, on the last New Yearand#8217;s Eve before Prohibition, frantic celebrations had convulsed the cityand#8217;s hotels and private clubs, its neighborhood taverns and wharfside saloons. It was a spasm of desperate joy fueled, said the Chronicle, by great quantities of and#8220;bottled sunshineand#8221; liberated from and#8220;cellars, club lockers, bank vaults, safety deposit boxes and other hiding places.and#8221; Now, on January 16, the sunshine was surrendering to darkness.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;San Franciscans could hardly have been surprised. Like the rest of the nation, theyand#8217;d had a yearand#8217;s warning that the moment the calendar flipped to January 17, Americans would only be able to own whatever alcoholic beverages had been in their homes the day before. In fact, Americans had had several decadesand#8217; warning, decades during which a popular movement like none the nation had ever seenand#8212;a mighty alliance of moralists and progressives, suffragists and xenophobesand#8212;had legally seized the Constitution, bending it to a new purpose.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Up in the Napa Valley to the north of San Francisco, where grape growers had been ripping out their vines and planting fruit trees, an editor wrote, and#8220;What was a few years ago deemed the impossibleandlt;a id="ifnote2"andgt;andlt;/aandgt; has happened.and#8221; To the south, Ken Lillyand#8212;president of the Stanford andlt;a id="page_2"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;University student body, star of its baseball team, candidate for the U.S. Olympic track teamand#8212;was driving with two classmates through the late-night streets of San Jose when his car crashed into a telephone pole. Lilly and one of his buddies were badly hurt, but they would recover. The forty-gallon barrel of wine theyand#8217;d been transporting would not. Its disgorged contents turned the street red.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Across the country on that last day before the taps ran dry, Goldand#8217;s Liquor Store placed wicker baskets filled with its remaining inventory on a New York City sidewalk; a sign read and#8220;Every bottleandlt;a id="ifnote3"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;, $1.and#8221; Down the street, Bat Masterson, a sixty-six-year-old relic of the Wild West now playing out the string as a sportswriter in New York, observed the first night of constitutional Prohibition sitting alone in his favorite bar, glumly contemplating a cup of tea. Under the headline GOODBYE, OLD PAL!, the American Chicle Company ran newspaper ads featuring an illustration of a martini glass and suggesting the consolation of a Chiclet, with its and#8220;exhilarating flavor that tingles the taste.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;In andlt;a id="ifnote4"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;Detroit that same night, federal officers shut down two illegal stills (an act that would become common in the years ahead) and reported that their operators had offered bribes (which would become even more common). In northern Maine, a paper in New Brunswick reported, and#8220;Canadian liquor in quantities from one gallon to a truckload is being hidden in the northern woods and distributed by automobile, sled and iceboat, on snowshoes and on skis.and#8221; At the Metropolitan Club in Washington, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt spent the evening drinking champagne with other members of the Harvard class of 1904.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;There were of course those who welcomed the day. The crusaders who had struggled for decades to place Prohibition in the Constitution celebrated with rallies and prayer sessions and ritual interments of effigies representing John Barleycorn, the symbolic proxy for alcoholand#8217;s evils. No one marked the day as fervently as evangelist Billy Sundayandlt;a id="ifnote5"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;, who conducted a revival meeting in Norfolk, Virginia. Ten thousand grateful people jammed Sundayand#8217;s enormous tabernacle to hear him announce the death of liquor and reveal the advent of an earthly paradise. and#8220;The reign of tears is over,and#8221; Sunday proclaimed. and#8220;The slums will soon be only a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs. Men will walk upright now, women will smile, and the children will laugh. Hell will be forever for rent.and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;A similarly grandiose note was sounded by the Anti-Saloon League, the mightiest pressure group in the nationand#8217;s history. No other organization had ever changed the Constitution through a sustained political campaign; now, on the day of its final andlt;a id="page_3"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;triumph, the ASL declared that and#8220;at one minute past midnightand#160;.and#160;.and#160;. a new nationandlt;a id="ifnote6"andgt;andlt;/aandgt; will be born.and#8221; In a way, editorialists at the militantly anti-Prohibition New York World perceived the advent of a new nation, too. and#8220;After 12 oand#8217;clock tonight,and#8221; the World said, and#8220;the Government of the United States as established by the Constitution and maintained for nearly 131 years will cease to exist.and#8221; Secretary of the Interior Franklin K. Lane may have provided the most accurate view of the United States of America on the edge of this new epoch. and#8220;The whole world is skew-jee, awry, distorted and altogether perverse,and#8221; Lane wrote in his diary on January 19. and#8220;.and#160;.and#160;. Einstein has declared the law of gravitation outgrown and decadent. Drink, consoling friend of a Perturbed World, is shut off; and all goes merry as a dance in hell!and#8221;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;and#9830;and#160;and#160;and#9830;and#160;and#160;and#9830;andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;How did it happen? How did a freedom-loving people decide to give up a private right that had been freely exercised by millions upon millions since the first European colonists arrived in the New World? How did they condemn to extinction what was, at the very moment of its death, the fifth-largest industry in the nation? How did they append to their most sacred document 112 words that knew only one precedent in American history? With that single previous exception, the original Constitution and its first seventeen amendments limited the activities of government, not of citizens. Now there were two exceptions: you couldnand#8217;t own slaves, and you couldnand#8217;t buy alcohol.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Few realized that Prohibitionand#8217;s birth and development were much more complicated than that. In truth, January 16, 1920, signified a series of innovations and alterations revolutionary in their impact. The alcoholic miasma enveloping much of the nation in the nineteenth century had inspired a movement of men and women who created a template for political activism that was still being followed a century later. To accomplish their ends they had also abetted the creation of a radical new system of federal taxation, lashed their domestic goals to the conduct of a foreign war, and carried universal suffrage to the brink of passage. In the years ahead, their accomplishments would take the nation through a sequence of curves and switchbacks that would force the rewriting of the fundamental contract between citizen and government, accelerate a recalibration of the social relationship between men and women, and initiate a historic realignment of political parties.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;In 1920 could anyone have believed that the Eighteenth Amendment, ostensibly addressing the single subject of intoxicating beverages, would set off an avalanche of andlt;a id="page_4"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;change in areas as diverse as international trade, speedboat design, tourism practices, soft-drink marketing, and the English language itself? Or that it would provoke the establishment of the first nationwide criminal syndicate, the idea of home dinner parties, the deep engagement of women in political issues other than suffrage, and the creation of Las Vegas? As interpreted by the Supreme Court and as understood by Congress, Prohibition would also lead indirectly to the eventual guarantee of the American womanand#8217;s right to abortion and simultaneously dash that same womanand#8217;s hope for an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Prohibition changed the way we live, and it fundamentally redefined the role of the federal government. How the hell did it happen?

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

Okrent, Daniel
Scribner Book Company
United States - 20th Century
United States - 20th Century/20s
United States - 20th Century/Depression
General History
United States History 20th century.
Prohibition -- United States.
US History - 20th Century
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
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
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
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
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
3 8-page inserts
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
» History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
» History and Social Science » US History » Temperance and Prohibition
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Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition Used Hardcover
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$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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