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When the Rivers Ran Red: An Amazing Story of Courage and Triumph in America's Wine Country
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When the Rivers Ran Red: An Amazing Story of Courage and Triumph in America's Wine Country

3.02 of 5 stars 3.02  ·  rating details  ·  48 ratings  ·  26 reviews
When Prohibition took effect in 1920, only a few months after one of the greatest California grape harvests of all time, violence and chaos descended on Northern California. Federal agents spilled thousands of gallons of wine in the rivers and creeks, gun battles erupted on dark country roads, and local law enforcement officers—sympathetic to their winemaking neighbors—fou ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 14th 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published June 9th 2009)
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Nancy L.
Earnest, but plodding. One of those writers that thinks every noun has to have an adjective to keep it company.
Vivienne Sosnowski has done an excellent job of pulling together a lot of facts and figures surrounding California wine country and the struggle it faced during the Prohibition years. Those in favor of Prohibition were called Dry's and those against were called Wet's. And unfortunately for those wine makers and grape growers in Napa and Sonoma counties, Prohibition had a direct impact on their livelihood - a livelihood which in some cases had been in their family for a generation or so.

But wher
This book has everything I love... Wine, California, Politics, California Wine, Crime & Corruption, Intrigue, More wine, History, Great Characters, and Bootleggers. If you're into any two of those topics, this is a must read.

Parts of the book are excellent. I learned plenty about the prohibition era, California wine pioneers, local history, and more.

Other parts suffered from a lack of good editing. Sentences that seemed to be missing a subject, or a clear direction. Sections that started to
This is one of the better books I have read regarding Prohibition. Sosnowski does an excellent job in placing local history into the broader national history. Her details make for an interesting read. For those interested in local history, one should be familiar with different types of grapes and wines. Fortunately, she does not distract from the story too much in discussing these subtle differences.

Her analysis of how the different owners reacted to Prohibition was very interesting. I would ha
It's difficult to imagine that the American politic would enact something as destructive as Prohibition; difficult until one examines today's political atmosphere and sees the parallels.

"When the Rivers Ran Red" focuses on the wine makers of Napa and Sonoma counties in Northern California, but its story of the Prohibition years is instructive for today, as well as crisply presented. I found it especially interesting how lawmakers provided loopholes in the amendment and subsequent laws that allow
Bob H
Vivienne Sosnowski's love of her craft and her subjects - here, the winemakers' trade, the winegrowing counties of Sonoma and Napa, and their struggle with Prohibition - makes this a work of well-crafted history. She has obviously delved deeply into local periodical archives, U.S. government files, and court records, but has also sought out and captured oral accounts from those who lived this period.

It's also an unusual angle on Prohibition, the story of its cruel impact on a region far from the
Jun 21, 2010 Miriam rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Napa and Sonoma residents
Shelves: non-fiction
Most Americans think about Prohibition from the point of view of consumers or, influenced by popular culture's obsession with gangsters, as a struggle between smugglers and G-men. Those not from one of the few old wine-producing regions of the country probably have never imagined the effect the 18th Amendment had on those whose livelihoods depended on wine.

Sosnowski opens with a moving scene -- the Foppiano family watching as federal agents poured out 140,000 gallons of wine, representing years
This book explores Prohibition and its effect on the American society, focusing on the impact it had on the rising California Wine Industry. It's quite an interesting topic not much known in Italy due to its geographical distance, but in a way relevant to italian history since the majority of California wineries of the time was run by italian immigrants.

I found it very entertaining at the beginning, the author has a quite dry style, but she tries to dramatize the account and give the reader a tr
this is a really badly written book on an interesting topic with a lot of info. it's written like a high school research paper. you an tell the writer just stitched together the info in various research articles. her writing style and vocab changed as she moved from resource to resource (these were red flags when i was a teacher grading papers). i'd be surprised if this thing couldn't pass a trip through copyright infringement software- my guess is that .any sentences were minimally altered. i d ...more
I enjoyed the book although there could have been better copy editing in the Kindle version. The stories of how the vintners dealt with prohibition were interesting, if a little repetitive. There was history here that I hadn't read previously.
Mary Slemenda
Read for book club. Would never have chosen it but did find the history interesting. Very repetitive and overly detailed.
Although the 70’s is when California wines got their big start into the greater world California has actually been making wine for decades. One of the biggest obstacles they had to face was Prohibition. In When the Rivers Ran Red: An Amazing Story of Courage and Triumph in America’s Wine Country we hear the story of the families that struggled to make a start, that fought to keep it going despite their future running down stream, and ultimately surviving and giving us wine so wonderfully made an ...more
Interesting premise, but writing style did not hold my attention. Went back and forth between historical facts about Prohibition and how it affected California's wine industry and accounts from those growing up during that time. The excerpts from interviews and stories of the vineyard owners were really interesting, but short and then the book would go back to more facts about the era. Some authors can use history to really tell a story (or stories) but this reads more like a textbook.
Definitely a book for those who have lived in Wine Country. The author delicately illustrates how Napa and Sonoma Valley used to look prior to the 1970s when the industry really grew. I thought it was interesting because I lived there and can imagine the day-to-day life stories that were explained in the book. Plus, it paints a very different picture of Prohibition than taught in history classes. I really enjoyed this book, but then again - I like history and I like wine.
Matthew Gaughan
Repetitive, badly edited, and rather one-sided, the book nevertheless provides a nice overview of the wine - or more to the point the grape-growing - industry during Prohibition.
Ed Eleazer
When the Rivers Ran Dry presents a fascinating view of all that happened to vintners in California during Prohibition. The book is not as interesting as an episode of Boardwalk Empire unfortunately, but then again it does not set out to be. Sosnowski gives us a solid, concise slice of history — well documented and despite what others have said, one that is quite well edited.
Thomas Burchfield
" When The Rivers Ran Red: An Amazing Story of Courage and Triumph in America's Wine Country by Vivienne Sosniski (Palgrave MacMillan), published the old-fashioned way, was much more coherent and pleasurable.

Read the rest of my review of this book at my web page, "A Curious Man:"

Perhaps not as engaging as Erik Larson's works, Sosnowski provides an solid historical account of the politics of prohibition and the lives of those Napa farming families who survived it. This is a worthy read and valuable historically with its many references to original sources.
Very interesting true story of the Prohibition years 1920 to 1933....13 years of no wine making in the U.S. Havoc was caused, all because of the Government. I'm not one for history stories, but this captured me. Maybe beacause of the subject matter. CHEERS.
Not a fan of this book, reads a little too much like a history text book. There were parts that were okay and it was interesting to read the ins and outs of prohibition, but it just didn't hold my attention.
Mark Levine
Unbelievable.A good idea for a short essay.Poorly written,ridiculous editing, apparently no proof reading,biased story telling ,short sighted narrow research.A complete waste of time.
Interesting to read about the history and impact of prohibition in No. California. Covers politics and policy, and personal stories from the people it impacted.
Fascinating reading about the effects of prohibition on Napa and Sonoma Valley vineyards and growers.
tells a sad but courageous story of how vintners survived during prohibition, writing is so-so.
A bit slow...interesting, but just not my cup of tea....
Ela Wine Lady -
Ela Wine Lady - marked it as to-read
Jul 13, 2015
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