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Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw's Adventures in Moonshine
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Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw's Adventures in Moonshine

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  245 ratings  ·  49 reviews
In "Chasing the White Dog," journalist Max Watman traces the historical roots and contemporary story of hooch. He takes us to the backwoods of Appalachia and the gritty nip joints of Philadelphia, from a federal courthouse to Pocono Speedway, profiling the colorful characters who make up white whiskey's lore. Along the way, Watman chronicles his hilarious attempts to disti ...more
Hardcover, 292 pages
Published February 16th 2010 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 518)
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Jon
A scattershot series of articles loosely based on the history and practice of illegal distilling in the United States. Sometimes fascinating, sometimes confusing (since Watman often has to be cagey about exactly who, where, and what he's talking about), sometimes quite funny. He asserts on the one hand that southern NASCAR types make up only a very small proportion of moonshine consumers and that African-Americans account for more than half of the customers, and on the other he talks at length a ...more
Tony
There was a point in CHASING THE WHITE DOG when I thought I had made a grave error. It was late in the book, as Max Watman was recounting another tale of another encounter with someone directly or indirectly involved with moonshining. I realized that this was not the book I wanted it to be. Watman, a Hudson Valley New Yorker, certainly did engage in the art of moonshining, in a domestic, canning-your-own-peaches sort of way. And, as a good craftsman will, he went to the experts for tips on how t ...more
Dominic
Chasing the White Dog by Max Watman is more a tale of one person's journey to find the truth about moonshining than the history of moonshine. Watman does dive into the history of whiskey and why moonshining began by discussing the events leading up to the Whiskey Rebellion, but I was expecting more history here, probably because the book was located in the history section at Borders. Either way Watman does a great job in telling his accounts of attempting to make moonshine himself. His prose is ...more
Ariel
I really did enjoy this book and it's right on the line for me between a 3 and a four. It really explores all possibilites of moonshine, making it making it legally as a micro distillery, making it really illeagally in the back woods, the culture and law enforcement that go along with that and the history of moonshine in America. I love the author's voice and the way he describes how he imagines things versus how they are how he wants to be vs how he knows he is. It's really easy to laugh at and ...more
Peter Derk
Number one, if you're looking for a primer on making booze, look somewhere else.

Okay, now that the drunken DIY'ers are out of the way we can get down to business.

Dog is overall a decent book. It has some definite ups, and Max Watman must be a talented writer as some of the most interesting chapters had to do with Nascar's origins in bootlegging and I have ZERO interest in Nascar.

That said, the book doesn't have a very strong focus. There is some history, some rubbing elbows with modern-day legit
...more
Christopher
This is an awesome book! It's a great look at distilled liquor and its history in the US. The author provides an objective look at moonshine, including the seedier aspects of it. The discussion of the micro-distilling movement is really cool.
Harley Gee
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mike Prochot
Not quite what I expected.

It started out ok, but by the second chapter, it just fell flat for me. As I struggled through to the end, I simply felt that this was a mediocre attempt at stringing together a bunch of notes and research pieces. I thought I was going to get a historical, factual, maybe even an educational romp through our fascination with moonshiners but instead I found some revisionist American history, a wierd glorificaton of an illegal and dangerous "hobby" and a lackluster presen
...more
Peter
I liked this book but currently I'm enamored with the idea of moonshine. My Grandmother had family involved with Al Capone in Chicago during prohibition and the whole idea of rum running, prohibition and making moonshine is interesting to me. The book is really a series of separate vignettes which the author tries to tie together. The stories are good but I think he fails to tie it all together and come to a conclusion.

It would also be nice if he gave more sources and references for his "facts"
...more
Alexis
A very enjoyable look at the sociopolitical history of whiskey distilling in the US, with tasting notes and moonshiner's tips thrown in. I read this during a month-long period of abstaining from alcohol and I basically had a shopping list by the end of the book. Some of the transitions into the historical sections are abrupt, and the story ends quite far off from where it started. But for a true whiskey lover and someone with even a passing interest in American history, it's definitely worth a r ...more
Ashley
I loved this book-- but, unlike some of the other reviewers here, I went onto it expecting a meditation on Moonshine in America. Parts of the book could have used diagrams, especially the technical discussions about still construction. On the whole, though, I really enjoyed the way the author wove together folklore, ethnography, history, law, and a little DIY spirit (pun intended).

This book is a quick read, full of interesting trivia, and well worth the read for any amateur booze hound.
Danielle
I read enough of this to know I didn't want to read all of it. It was decent non-fiction writing, (not spectacular, but I've read far worse) and might be interesting to someone with a fondness for, well, alcohol, or an old-timey way of life. Between Ava's Man and what I got through of this one, I'm guessing I know more about home-distilled corn liquor than any other Mormon out there.
Taffnerd
Nearly done but already sure that this is one of the best things I've read this year. Max Watman is an amazing writer who has a sure way with a turn of phrase - I dare you to read until "all the sensible woodchucks" show up and then see if you can stop. Some chapters are better than others but the best of them read like lightning, no pun intended.

This is a fantastic social history that you don't have to be a fan of booze to appreciate. Just a fan of history and great writing.
Margaret Sankey
Another adventure in fourth genre journalism, in which the author relates the social history of moonshine (Whiskey Rebellion, Reconstruction hillbillies, failure of prohibition, segue-way into meth mountains) while attending a Distiller's convention, unearthing the origins of stock car racing, riding around with the ATF&E and learning that the people at Home Depot are not fooled for one minute about the copper tubing you're buying "to put in an irrigation system."
Emilade
I enjoyed the brief history on whiskey in the States, and how he relates his own experiences with those of the people he interviews. Some of it goes on an on in ways I didn't find terribly interesting, i.e. when he writes about NASCAR. I understand the connection between moonshine and NASCAR, but it doesn't change the fact that I don't care.

Its a good book, and you should read it.
David Ward
Chasing the White Dog: An Amateur Outlaw's Adventure in Moonshine by Max Watman (Simon & Shuster 2010) 363.41092 is an interesting summary of the place of moonshine in U.S. history as well as a good study of the craft of distilling in today's society. I've never run across a book quite like this one! 6/10. Finished 2/12/11.
Joe
May 10, 2011 Joe rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: misc
Really enjoyed reading this book. I was amazed at the amount of money the author spent researching the subject and trying to make his own "hooch." Pretty interesting history on the development of moonshining in the U.S. I was really surprised by his account of the city of Philadelphia and the moonshine business.
Jeff
This could have been a great book instead of just a mediocre one and it wasn't for lack of great subject matter. Max Watman should have read similar books before embarking on this one. Not specifically books about moonshine, but books about traveling the country searching for a disappearing part of Americana.
hope
i can't really star this book because i didn't read all of it. i skipped the chapters Watman talked about his own adventures in moonshine making and read the ones about real moonshiners getting busted. a good writer, for sure. maybe when I'm ready to make my own moonshine I'll go back to those chapters
Joel
I have recommended this book to dozens of friends. It follows 4 subjects and a semi biography. It follows the history of distilling, the history of moonshining, moonshining today, and the revolution of micro-distilling. Also he tries to make apple whiskey at home. Great book, lots of great info, loved it.
Chris
Chasing the White Dog was an ok read. The author Max Watman was straightforward about his infatuation with the mystique of moonshiners, but I was less enthralled by it. It was interesting to discover that my adopted home state of Virginia is hotspot #1 for Moonshine. I did not realize that!
John Kepler
Add distilling to the list of things I'm going to do when I finally get a basement or garage. This is exactly the kind of non-fiction I love - author goes on personal journey to learn how to do something while explaining the history of that thing to the reader.
Aspen Junge
A social and cultural history of illegal distilling from the Whiskey Rebellion to NASCAR. Watman recounts his own trials of distilling moonshine and apple jack as well. A good read for anyone who is interested in home brewing or winemaking.
David Janke
Some interesting stories and history, along with a number of interesting distillers and products I'll have to check out, but it didn't really come off as a book. It was more a collection of articles and vignettes, some very good, some fairly dull.
Jeff
Oct 22, 2012 Jeff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Whiskey lovers
Recommended to Jeff by: Paul McIvor
This book makes me want to distill spirits. It's a light read, full of stories about learning how to distill, finding moonshine, avoiding the law, and a fair amount of history & culture, and how moonshine is relevant in the South.
Christine
The writing and story were great, but there was an issue with the pacing. The way Watman cut between history and personal experience felt too disjointed. It was just too much effort to follow the separate story strands.
Steve
The book was a liteney of short stories. It was like reading a diary. But for the most part it was entertaining reading. I wouldn't put it on my list of must reads, but its pretty good filler material.
Joshua
Not nearly as educational as I thought it would be; I was hoping for more of a Julia Child/artisinal/diy angle. Was interested to learn that North Philly is a major consumer of moonshine, though.
Annie
Not impressed with the structure of this book. Too disparate to be a resource for nonfiction writing, but I suppose it may have kept my interest if I were reading purely for pleasure.
Anthony
well written, interesting, fast paced, and looks at microdistilling, moonshine for profit, and hobby liquor making. An interesting look at a world I didn't know much about.
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Max is the author of "Chasing the White Dog" (S & S, 2010) & "Race Day" (Ivan R. Dee, 2005).

He was named a 2008 NEA Fellow.

He is the former horse racing correspondent for the NY Sun. It's a point of pride that he was the turf hack the paper ever had.

Max has written widely on books, food, drinks, music, and occasionally cinema.

Raised in the Shenandoah sticks. Many collegiate adventures l
...more
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