Amazing how something so many people fought to change for the whole country could only last a little over a decade; something that had been in the works for many decades. I’m talking about Prohibition. In Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition, Karen Blumenthal lays out the beginning of this vast movement and how over many years, the country’s opinion gradually changed on alcohol, which lead to a change in the constitution of the United States. Many students have no idea that for 14 years our country outlawed the sale and consumption of alcohol except in certain instances. One of the most profound outcomes was the rise of organized crime. Since we are in a suburb just outside of Chicago, most have heard of Al Capone, and this book does a nice job of talking about how the outlawing of alcohol paved the road for crime to take a huge upswing and for it to turn deadly. One part I loved reading about was how warning labels on things like dried grapes would tell consumer in pretty exact detail what they shouldn’t do with the grapes because if they did, it would, gasp, result in alcohol! Wink, wink. What was a bit more shocking was how few people died from trying to make their own – most of the home brews contained some kind of poison that didn’t get siphoned off the finished product, not to mention how dangerous home stills were. Even kids got involved moving around this illegal product, sometimes for their parents.
Great nonfiction book for students in grades 7th and up.