History Book Club Selection

'Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition'

book cover Last CallThe next selection of the History Book Club is a recently published book about Prohibition entitled Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent. The book examines how and why the movement that promoted abstinence rose in the Protestant Northeast during the 19th century. It also traces the development of organizations and lobbies that promoted the banning of alcohol.

Last Call goes on to explore the reform spirit of the Progressive Era and shows how it was connected to the rise of the idea of Prohibition. It concludes by looking at how the culture of drinking changed in the era of speakeasies, from men-only saloons to nightclubs and other venues where sophisticated men and women mingled under the influence of bathtub gin. In numerous ways, the roots of contemporary club and bar culture are found in the cultural shift that happened during the prohibition era.

We will discuss the majority of the book on July 8.

Last Call was also used as the basis for the documentary film Prohibition by Ken Burns.  We will be screening and discussing selected scenes from Prohibition on July 22.

-- Paul Sweeney