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on 27 February 2011
The book was very informative and entertaining, at times, I didn't want to put it down. As a newcomer to the history of Prohibition, I was unsure what to expect from Behr's writing, but I was suitably impressed. The book itself, is not overly long, 242 pages, however, it is filled with details which led to much intrigue. The author discussed the Temperance movements of the 19th century, and talked of interesting, slightly captivating figures such as Carry Nation or Wayne Wheeler of the Anti Saloon League. The book's structure composed of an exploration of the issues which led to Prohibition in the USA, then went on to talk about Prohibition itself, and the benefits and problems that it had. The issues were each analysed in depth and the author left no stone unturned, the text was excellently written, and was relatively easy for a amateur on the field of Prohibition to understand. The focus of the book, was on the multi-millionaire bootlegger, George Remus, and his downfall, but Behr uses what happened to Remus, to explain the typicality and the larger significance of what went on during those 13 years.

There was one slight disappointment. The author left talking about the breakdown of the Volstead Act, and the road to the 21st amendment until the last 25 to 30 pages of his work. This made the end of the book seem a little rushed, and it was not in keeping with the detailed nature of the previous chapters. In spite of this, I would sincerely recommend this book, it is very interesting and provides a lot of detail on Prohibition in the USA.
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on 31 August 2012
An easy to read introduction to the Prohibition Era.
I too have spotted some inaccuracies (and I see from other reviews there are more than I expected), and it's true the book sometimes floats away from the subject matter (the chapter about Chicago was basically NOT about Prohibition). But if you are a newcomer to the Prohibition Era - like I was when I read this book - and you're just trying to get a feeling for this time period and then move on to more in-depth works on the subject, it does the job.

The first part is maybe the more interesting. It deals with the social, political and in part the economical atmosphere at the end of the XIX and the beginning of the XX century that permitted the idea of Prohibition to become a reality. Having now read also the more accurate and in-depth treatment offered by Okrent in his book "Last Call", I know this is a partial analysis, still it give an idea of why Prohibition found such a strong support on its way to becoming a law in the USA.
It also offers an introduction (if in many instances very short and essential) of the main actors in the struggle on both sides.

The central part deals with Prohibition proper, or rather to the time of the actual Prohibition. But I was a little disappointed. There is an attempt at a social analysis here, but on the whole the author seems to rely heavily on anecdotes. Granted, there's nothing wrong with it on a general level, but that's certainly not enough to give a feel of how Prohibition really impacted on the lives of so many people, or the role it plaid in the changing of costumes - especially among young people - or the rise of jazz, or the escalation of crime, or a few other matters.
We still find introductions to many important players (again short and essential like in the first part), with the only exception of the life of George Remus, which, for some reason, is explore in depth. Yes, it was interesting, but not so much - in my opinion - to take up a few chapters.
On the whole, it gave me the impression to be a bit superficial, although you do get an idea of how it was in those days.

The last part was disappointing. The reasons why Prohibition was repealed are very superficially and quickly explored. I felt as if much of what was behind it was just left out (and Okrent's book confirmed this when I read it). The repeal of Prohibition is related in very few pages, very fast, and you don't really get a good idea of why it happened.

On the whole, not the best book on Prohibition I read, but still an easy introduction to it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 September 2014
From 1920 to 1933 it was illegal to drink alcohol in America. That is the sentence I wanted to see as I'm watching Series 4 of Boardwalk Empire. The language used to cover this time often confused me and I quite simply could not get my head around the idea of banning alcohol. And I don't drink.

Words like Volstedt Act, 18th Amendment and Prohibition did not inform me what exactly was going on. Edward Behr's brilliant exposé is enlightening me thoroughly. The Introduction will surprise you where he starts, the opening chapters are full of revealing facts and perspectives.

One such perspective is that movements advocating no drinking gained momentum when there was nothing else for social society to engage and unite in. Unlike in the UK at the time. Where I may differ from Behr's views is his allusion to drug use in our time. I have not yet finished this book but so far he is connecting the illegality of alcohol in the 1920s with illegal drugs now. Even connecting misuse of alcohol with heroin or cocaine. In the UK making drugs legal, even with conditions, would send a message: go on, kill yourself nicely.

I especially love the connection that I might make with copyright of books. I got his book for free on the Internet. The file was for Kindle but I read it on Nook. Should I come quietly?

Where should law be in our lives? As far away as possible is my view. When I've finished reading this fascinating tale of myopic society I shall update this review.
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on 9 February 2001
A book that tells you, not just about the Prohibition era itself, but about the events and social pressures that created the desire for the Prohibition. A good overview that is written in an easy to read style with many interesting anecdotes.
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on 29 September 2010
from the start till the end of prohibition tells the whole story with out going to deep in to subjects educational and entertaining
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on 1 November 2015
A very interesting look at prohibition in the USA I did watch Boardwalk Empire on Sky which was the glamourised version of prohibition.
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on 1 March 2016
very informative
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