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I Wanted More Social Context
on April 22, 2003
Mr. Behr's book gets off to a good start, with the first 70 or so pages describing historical attitudes towards liquor in the 19th century in the U.S. and how attitudes toward alcohol grew less and less permissive over the years.
However, the remaining 175 pages or so is like a biography of George Remus and the major players behind illicit alcohol manufacture and transport. While this was interesting up to a point, there was far more about the lives of these people than I cared to read, and I found myself skipping many pages.
Also, I was disappointed that Mr. Behr skirted the involvement of the mafia during the prohibition era, with only a brief mention of such household prohibition-era gangsters as Al Capone and "Lucky" Luciano.
I wished Mr. Behr would have taken a more humanistic perspective and taken us inside speakeasies, examined the social impacts of prohibition such as the growth in the popularity of jazz during prohibition, and explored the attitudes of the numerous otherwise law-abiding citizens who had no problems with drinking liquor illegally.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I wish that the author would have structured it differently.