Friday, October 21, 2011

Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition

Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition Karen Blumenthal

I'm knee deep in Cybils reading (although I shouldn't complain-- those fiction people have much longer lists!) but here's a good book for a Friday afternoon!

When I first saw this, I thought "what a weird subject for a children's book" but, it really works.

Blumenthal does an excellent job of explaining why prohibition passed in the US. I think when you learn about it in school, you look at the way America drinks today but that's not how we drank back then. Today, you don't give kids whiskey with breakfast, well, I mean, I hope you don't.

The book also deals with how Prohibition made things more dangerous-- mostly through gang activity getting liquor to people who wanted it. One of my favorite bits was a map of Washington that show everywhere booze had been bought. Also, the quotation from one reporter that "Capitol Hill was one of the wettest spots in Washington."

Also, the fact that beauty salons saw an uptick in business-- "When men drank, they were not so critical," Mrs. Harry Newton Price told the New York Times..

The conclusion is a bit weird, as it tries to incorporate an anti-drinking message (because it's for kids, and kids shouldn't drink, and alcoholism is an issue) and it's a bit rushed. BUT! A great book.

I think kids will really enjoy it while learning a lot about American history and the American relationship with alcohol. There's also a great lesson about political compromise and what could have been if both sides yielded a bit.

My real complaint is nitpicky-- Applejack. At one point she describes it as hard cider. In the glossary, it's listed as slang for booze.

Applejack is basically apple brandy mixed with grain alcohol. It's one of my favorites, so here's a prohibition-era cocktail that's great for fall, for those of you over 21.

Applejack Rabbit

3 parts Applejack
1 part lemon juice
1 part orange juice
1 part maple syrup

Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass.

My variation-- add a good dash of bitters and only 1/2 part maple syrup.

It goes really well with a nice sharp cheddar.

Book Provided by... my local library

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