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Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  122 ratings  ·  26 reviews

In 1919, the United States embarked on the country's boldest attempt at moral and social reform: Prohibition. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol around the country. This "noble experiment," as President Hoover called it, was intended to usher in a healthier, more moral, and more efficient society. Nowhere

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Paperback, 360 pages
Published December 15th 2008 by Harvard University Press (first published 2007)
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Dale
I continued my exploration of the fascinating Prohibition era with this book, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations for it. It's a perfectly competent history as presented, but I was expecting something a little more focused. I wanted to know how the denizens of New York City lived through and dealt with Prohibition. As it turns out, according to Lerner, the answer by and large is "they ignored it". But that would make for a pretty short book, so he pads it out with some historical cont ...more
Stephen

"Dry Manhattan" tells you a lot about New York, a little less about Prohibition, and somehow gets the mix right.

The Eighteenth Amendment, if author Michael Lerner's research and interpretations are correct, was birthed by the boozy saloons of New York City's immigrant quarters and foundered upon the same immovable rock of intemperance.

Protestant folks in middle America couldn't abide by the sin-soaked goings-on in the Big Apple and other urban centers. In the end, making something almost every
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Lucy
This was also a book for US History thesis paper. This book talks about life in the 1920s, but especially prohibition. When the Nineteenth Amendment prohibited the making, selling and drinking of alcohol, many problems occurred. In New York City, speakeasies (underground bars) started opening. The people in charge of these were part of mafias and gangs. The Twenties was an unsafe time to live in because there was a lot of gang violence. No one cared if you got murdered! The police forces could b ...more
victoria.p
I enjoyed this, though it wasn't quite what I was expecting (gangsters and g-men, flappers and booze) when I picked it up. It's a political history of Prohibition - how the dry lobby came to power, got large parts of the country on board with outlawing alcohol (enough to make it a Constitutional amendment), and then how cities ignored and circumvented it over the years the amendment was in place, creating a political movement culminating in its repeal. The most interesting part to me was how it ...more
Heather
It took me a really long time to read this. The subject matter was very interesting to me, since i have read several books that take place during the Prohibition era, but the writing style drags a little. I think I fell asleep every time I stated to read it.

There is a lot of detail of laws & names of key players that was a little hard to keep up with. Some terms seemed to be introduced without explanation (like the committee of Fourteen) & I kept thinking I must have skimmed over the fir
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Robert
Those who want to understand the American right-wing thuggary of today would do well to read this book, which details just how America fell into the hands of the Prohibitionists in the early 20th century.

The same bullying, political blackmail and harassment tactics are well detailed in this highly readable post-mortem of the "Dry" movement--reinforcing the saying that "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Read how turning New York City dry was supposed to be the crowning
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David McCormick
One of those books that are difficult to rate. On the one hand the book is brisk and pleasurable to read. On the other hand there isn't much here that I haven't read before. In fact, anyone who has seen the Ken Burns documentary will have heard over half of what this book has to say, yet this isn't really a criticism. A very well researched and written smallish book on Prohibition in New York City. Five stars for one's first book on the subject, trailing down sharply as one's familiarity with th ...more
Lawrence
This book was unintentionally(?) funny: the personalities written large, the rhetoric of the campaigns, etc. An interesting social and political view of prohibition with perhaps a bit of NYC centrism. Good explication of the anti-immigrant sentiment and other prejudices underlying the dry movement and the desire for social reform. Good information on the concerted campaign to pass prohibition and the long-time-in-coming political response to repeal.
Fletcher
I can only imagine that New York in the roaring Twenties and Prohibition Era was filled with a lot of amazing stories. This book studiously avoids those stories that would transform it into a popular history, and yet it isn't well-written enough to be an excellent history. I got a feel for the politics and the passions of the time, but only a single thread at a time which left me doubting the author's grasp of events.
jankreidler
Reviewed this non fiction book for the Journal of American Culture recently....excellent read for anyone interested in American culture or politics....shows how the squeaky wheel gets things done in this country and how fundamentalism backfires when the will of a few is imposed on the many. Theme seems contemporary. We didn't learn much from history, unfortunately! Gotta love the Jazz age!
David McCormick
This is a good introductory look at Prohibition in New York. Anyone who has seen the Ken Burns documentary on this subject will see little new material in this book. It's a perfectly competent and enjoyable book on Prohibition, but surprisingly light (in my opinion) for a scholarly book published by Harvard UP.
Adam Klinker
Always suspected it was easy to get around Prohibition in NYC, this book shows how. Also a fascinating cultural statement on how ridiculous Prohibition was in a place bringing together so many cultures and ethnicities. It's definitely from the country to the city, with xenophobia leading the way for the Drys.
Anja
If you are interested in prohibition and NYC then I recommend reading this book. It can be confusing at time as the author delves into the many players in prohibition in NYC. It is amazing how many things the failed experiment brought to NYC.
Nghia
I didn't like this book that much because i think it has a lot of information about the prohibition which make it a little boring after a while. If you want to learn about prohibition, this book would teach you a thing or more.
Anna Tatelman
Great read on Prohibition. Contains lots of topics, causes, and effects of prohibition not normally discussed, such as "non-native" Americans being punished for booze possession far more than the white elites.
Matt
I thought that the book was alright I didn't really like it that much. It was sort of an easy read I guess. I wouldn't really recommened this book unless you need to learn about the prohibition.
Tad Richards
Everything you'd want from popular history. A fascinating subject that one sort of knows about, but not really. Excellent research, well organized, separates myth from reality, and well written.
William
Possible lessons for the War on Drugs? Dunno, but the tales of Gotham during the days of the drys will wrap you up. Particularly if read with a nicely poured Manhattan.
columbialion
The same folks who brought us Prohibition are still with us today...only we call them the Religious Right. AND THEY ARE MORE DANGEROUS NOW!!
Michiko
Impressive history of prohibition in NYC. Worth reading if you are interested in the topic.
Robin
You think you know about the Prohibition Era? Bet you this book could teach you a thing or two.
Lana
I like it so far. Easy read, and different. I'll have a more detailed review soon.
Tracey
Apr 09, 2008 Tracey marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended-tcpl
363.41 Lerner, 2007 SDMB recommenation: Malienation
Tara Godfrey
Very slow reading book.
scott
Apr 06, 2007 scott rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: JMAC
Learned that I am right
Amelie
My cousin wrote this!
Jim
Jim marked it as to-read
Jun 28, 2015
Jenn M
Jenn M marked it as to-read
Jun 04, 2015
Emory Dunn
Emory Dunn marked it as to-read
Jun 01, 2015
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