THE LONG THIRST: Prohibition in America: 1920-1933 by Thomas M. Coffey

THE LONG THIRST: Prohibition in America: 1920-1933

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A grand anecdotal study--Coffey, author of Agony at Easter (1969), Imperial Tragedy (1970), and Lion by the Tail (1974), wastes no time with tales about somebody's home brew exploding in the basement, devotes only one sentence to the Untouchables, and gets right down to business: Prohibition as business, and the politics of Prohibition. On the fringe are night club operators and rumrunners; at the center are national churchmen like adulterous Bishop Cannon, crooked fundraisers for the Anti-Saloon League, Mayor Big Bill Thompson of Chicago and his underworld counterparts, Harding's bought-up Attorney General, and industrialists such as John D. Rockefeller who thought dryness would increase workers' productivity, as well as the distillers and boot-leggers who did the buying up in Wahington. The enforcer of Prohibition, Assistant Attorney Mabel Willebrandt, having withstood the wet lobby, retired to become a lobbyist for California grape growers; FDR preempted his New York Republican opponent by coming out for repeal; the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform rallied patrician ladies to end the farce; and so ""the wet tide rose,"" but not before thousands a year were given ""the death penalty"" willy-nilly for drinking bootleg because the government insisted on poisoning industrial alcohol. It is supposed to be sad and funny, and it is, while the intricacies of municipal deals and demagogic byplay make it a handy reference for the political history of the period.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1975
Publisher: Norton