Bootleg begins with the grisly St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929, and then works its way back to the history of drinking in the United States and Americans’ attitudes toward it, from the colonial era through the Civil War, to the early twentieth century. Nine chapters highlight the major players and events leading up to the passing and eventual repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Important figures of the day, such as Morris Sheppard, Carrie Nation, and Andrew Volstead are explored, as well as the underworld figures of Al Capone and the Chicago gangsters, but the author also shows how Prohibition affected ordinary households and mom-and-pop businesses.
This book would be useful as a resource book for reports because it gives a very thorough, detailed and mostly chronological history of Prohibition from beginning to end. As a nice touch, the last chapter shows that there were a few positive aspects to Prohibition, and also looks at current attempts to limit drinking such as MADD. The bibliography and source notes are great, and there is a glossary of idioms and terms from the temperance era, e.g., “The real McCoy”. The photos in the book are abundant, interesting, large and well captioned. The only negative aspect I found is that the writing is somewhat “dry” and factual so I don’t think this qualifies as narrative nonfiction. Loved Lincoln’s and Henry Ford’s take on drinking. Both opposed it. Best for grades 5 and up.