Hilary's Reviews > Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition

Bootleg by Karen Blumenthal
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's review
Nov 14, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: informational, young-adult, tri-review
Read in November, 2011

TThis is a well-rounded look at the colorful Prohibition era. It takes into account both negative and positive aspects of the law that resulted in unintended consequences (Prohibition was initiated to decrease lawlessness and drunkenness, but instead increased both). Karen Blumenthal, a longtime writer for the “Wall Street Journal,” creates a highly readable nonfiction text that instantly engages the reader by opening with the 1929 Valentines Day massacre in Chicago and then highlighting the political and social turmoil that led to that event. Blumenthal skillfully weaves fascinating biographies of key players into the text, from temperance crusader Morris Sheppard to legendary gangster Al Capone. I found the passages devoted to Carrie Nation, particularly engaging.

The entertaining narrative is packed with photos, drawings, advertisements, and images that complement and enhance the text. The glossary, bibliography, and source notes, are valuable additions and attest to the author’s in-depth research. History buffs may be pleasantly surprised by the layers of detail that this slim volume contains. Readers will be prompted to share interesting facts gleaned from the text. For instance, did you know that Al Capone’s brother was a federal enforcement agent? or that several charter NASCAR drivers got their start running moonshine during this era? Teens looking for a research tool will find this volume an important resource.


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