CRF Blog

Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

 by Bill Hayes

The New York Times Book Review called Daniel Okrent’s book Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition a “narrative delight” and a “remarkably original account” of the history of Prohibition. From the review:

There have been many studies that follow the rapid growth of the temperance movement in this era—the colorful saloon-busting of Carry Nation, the tent-revival magnetism of Billy Sunday—but none can match the precision of Okrent’s account. Momentum, he notes, depended on both a keen understanding of the political process and a ruthless approach to elected officials, who either joined the cause or found themselves under endless assault. Knowing that alcohol taxes accounted for about one-third of all federal revenue, temperance leaders campaigned successfully for a federal income tax to make up the difference. Believing that women were more likely than men to support restrictions on alcohol, these leaders strongly supported women’s suffrage. And when America entered World War I in 1917, they helped fan the flames of anti-German hysteria by accusing the Busch family and other brewers of harboring sympathies for the kaiser (a charge, not entirely untrue, that turned beer drinking into a disloyal act).

NPR’s Fresh Air has an interview with Okrent: Prohibition Life: Politics, Loopholes And Bathtub Gin