Essay on The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent

Essay on The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent

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On Jan. 17, 1920, America went completely dry. The 18th Amendment of the United States Constitution had been ratified a year earlier, banning “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” within the United States and its territories. This began the era of Prohibition, a 14-year time period of law-breaking unlike any other in our country’s history fueled by bootleggers, gangs, speak easies and mafias. The 18th Amendment was a rarity in that it limited the rights of the individual rather than the activities of the government, thereby guaranteeing an unfavorable reception and reaction. “Last Call” The Rise and Fall of Prohibition was written by Daniel Okrent and published in May 2010 and is a historical explanation of the Prohibition era. Prohibition through the 18th Amendment holds the distinction of being the only constitutional amendment ever to be repealed. This fact leads one to ask: How did this even occur? Why would Americans sacrifice their precious right to drink?

“Last Call,” provides the answers and explanations to these two questions and the historical viewpoint on the Prohibition Era. Daniel Okrent, who has authored four other books and is the first public editor of The New York Times, views Prohibition as one clash in a larger war waged by small-town white Protestants who felt overwhelmed by the forces of change that were sweeping their nation. He explains that this is a theory that was first proposed by the historian Richard Hofstadter more than five decades ago. Though many books and historical accounts have been written about Prohibition since then, Okrent offers an original account, which shows how its advocates combined the nativist fears of many Americans with legitimate concerns about the...


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...years ago now actually lowered the amount of American’s that regularly drink. Something that would have been nice to read about, but was left out of the book, was whether or not certain social classes were more heavily targeted in Prohibition. It would have been interesting to see how the upper classes restrictions and enforcement varied from the lower class.
Overall I liked the book because it was written in an easily understood manner that still grasped the important points of the Prohibition Era. Daniel Okrent’s “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” is a book that I would recommend to anyone trying to learn more about one of the most politically corrupted eras of our country. I hate to say it but if someone were to suddenly pull away alcohol from a society accustomed to its legality, I would probably find myself as a member of a 1920 speak-easy as well.

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