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Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition Hardcover – May 24, 2011

13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The breadth of the well-researched material makes Bootleg a substantial resource for reports; a deep bibliography and copious source notes provide ample opportunities for further study…this book is also a lively read… (School Library Journal)

While lively anecdotes and personal stories keep the reading brisk and often quite jovial, readers are never allowed to ignore the fact that so many "good" citizens became insidiously inured to casually breaking the law, and that acknowledging the realities of this moral lapse ultimately led to repeal. (BCCB)

An informative, insightful account of a fascinating period of American history. (Kirkus Reviews)

The scope is ambitious, but Blumenthal investigates various tangents with telling anecdotes, quotes, statistics, photographs, and illustrations without losing her focus on the bigger picture. Whether you consider ongoing problems with substance abuse or increasingly polarized political discourse, the book is startlingly relevant to modern times in many ways, marking Blumenthal as one of the more intellectually adventurous authors writing for young adults today. (Horn Book Magazine)

…a highly readable, well-shaped look at the Eighteenth Amendment… Plenty of archival images lend to the book's pleasant design, and an ample bibliography and source notes close out this top-notch resource, which will also help spark discussion on the current War on Drugs. (Booklist)

About the Author

KAREN BLUMENTHAL is a long-time journalist who has written for both adults and young people. She previously wrote about the 1920s in Six Days in October: The Stock Market Crash of 1929, which was a Sibert Honor Book, and about social change in Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX, which won a Jane Addams Children's Book Award. She lives in Dallas, Texas.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1250L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Flash Point; First Edition edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159643449X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596434493
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #460,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on September 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This fascinating new narrative nonfiction book delves into the story of Prohibition, a unique and colorful decade in our country's history. Author Karen Blumenthal , a long-time journalist with the Wall Street Journal, puts her considerable writing skills to good use in explaining how the great social revolution known as Prohibition, which was supposed to forever end drunkenness, reduce crime, and improve the lives of America's families, led instead to a culture of lawlessness, bribery, gangsters, and even murder.

Blumenthal goes back to the earliest days of the Pilgrims to trace the history of liquor in America, noting that rum was almost a form of currency in the earliest days of the country. In the 19th century, taverns multiplied, as did concerns about excessive drinking, leading to the formation of the temperance movement, who at first worked toward drinking in moderation. Soon, however, the movement changed its platform to total abstinence. The author profiles some of the most important personalities from the temperance movement, such as Morris Sheppard, the "boy orator of Texas" who was the first to introduce a constitutional amendment against "an evil that will prove to be the source of the nation's death," and Carrie Nation, the infamous "bar smasher" who believed she was on a mission from God to destroy saloons. The temperance movement was the first to put women in leadership positions, and forever changed women's influence in politics.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on May 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Following decades of pressure from temperance groups that opposed excessive drinking, the Eighteenth Amendment was officially added to the U.S. Constitution in 1919. This amendment, which went into effect a year later, prohibited the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors. However, rather than promote the well-being of families and put a radical end to alcohol consumption, prohibition wound up increasing the production and consumption of illicit alcohol as well as the incidence of violent crime. With insufficient resources or political will to adequately enforce prohibition and with the growing severity of criminal activity, the government repealed the Eighteenth Amendment in 1933.

This historical narrative provides an interesting account of the individuals, groups, and social forces associated with the temperance movement and the thirteen-year period in which prohibition was legally in effect. Thoroughly engrained are a number of important lessons in economics, including the government's reliance on alcohol as a source of tax revenue, the powerful incentives created by prohibition in affecting the behavior of both producers and consumers, and the impact of supply and demand forces on the price of alcohol. Young history buffs are bound to learn a great deal about this volatile period in American history from this well-researched book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Jenvey on May 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Great Book! This is the story, start to finish, of the era we know as Prohibition. It talks about the players involved, the social conditions at the time that drove their motivations, and the intentions of those involved. It also talks about the failure, the short-sighted vision of the authors and the true effects of 'The Noble Experiment.' More, she details the detrimental effects of the time period that are still with us to this day.

It's well written and well done, but more, you can read between the lines and see the similarities, the cause and effect, the different outcomes that COULD have been as they relate to our own social issues today. Specifically, We all get so up in arms in this country about drug smuggling, medical marijuanna, abortion, gun control, even gay marriage. The two tidal waves of opinion that first started, and then ended prohibition are valuable lessons for us all today and are well preseneted by the author!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As I’ve said in reviews before, the era of American Prohibition completely and utterly fascinates me for more reasons that I’d care to cite. Because I’ve had the good fortune to read so many of the scholarly efforts exploring this unique period in U.S. history, I’ve now been directed toward some of the books targeted at readers much younger than I … and I’m giving Karen Blumenthal’s BOOTLEG: MURDER, MOONSHINE, AND THE LAWLESS YEARS OF PROHIBITION an enthusiastic thumbs up.

It’s a quick read, briskly covering approximately 100 years of American background. How can that be given the fact that Prohibition itself only lasted 13 years? Well, Blumenthal rightly explores the decades that led up to this grand social experiment as there were several important events that culturally ‘set the stage’ for a voting electorate to get behind such a daunting political achievement. That’s a reality many books leave out or only cover superficial; to her credit, Blumenthal embraces what effect Morris Sheppard, Carrie Nation, and a handful of important others had on society-at-large.

At a lean 130 pages, BOOTLEG clearly doesn’t fathom the depths of these events. Instead, Blumenthal keeps the target focused on young readers, choosing to present perhaps only the more colorful players that set America on the path to enacting the Eighteenth Amendment. In fact, the first half of her work concentrates on the formative incidents, leaving the second half free to investigate the people who made Prohibition what it was: bootlegger Bill McCoy, cultural pioneer Henry Ford, and (naturally) mobster Al Capone.

Because I have read so much of this subject matter, it would be easy to brush aside BOOTLEG and criticize its brevity.
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