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Ten Nights in a Bar Room
T.S. Arthur
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Ten Nights in a Bar Room

2.97  ·  Rating details ·  112 ratings  ·  24 reviews
The story of a small-town miller (perhaps based on Arthur's father) who gives up his trade to open a tavern, the novel's narrator is an infrequent visitor who over the course of several years traces the physical and moral decline of the proprietor, his family, and the town's citizenry due to alcohol.

Excerpt from Ten Nights in a Bar-Room: And What I Saw There
Ten years ago,
ebook, 248 pages
Published February 17th 2015 by Audubon Press (first published 1854)
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I started reading Ten Nights in a Bar-Room months after hearing about it in a 19th century women's rights class without any idea what I was getting into. This is a heavy-handed moral book, preaching against the evils of drink, and the first half of the book does have its fair share of angelic child melodrama. The second half of this book, however, is an insane temperance themed bloodbath. Pro-Maine Law speeches are punctuated by a surprising amount of stabbings, gouged eyes, and trampled faces, ...more
Herman Gigglethorpe
Ten Nights in a Bar Room is such a dated book that I might as well give a (probably inaccurate) history lesson in the review.

Most people remember that slavery was the major political issue in 1850s America. Plantation slavery isn't in this novel, but the concept of being a slave to the "Demon Drink" exists. The other debate of the 1850s was alcohol prohibition, which became a part of the Constitution with the 18th Amendment, and was later repealed by the 21st. T.S. Arthur was a supporter of the
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This heavy-handed, morality novel is told from the standpoint of a man who returns to the same bar ten times over a ten year period. The narrator abstains from alcohol and gambling, so it is never very clear why he spends so much time in this bar-room. It has historical significance as 19th century propaganda literature for strict alcohol control laws and anti-gaming laws. From a literary standpoint, it reminds me somewhat of Uncle Tom's Cabin but is stylistically closer to that of a religious o ...more
Therese Dotray-Tulloch
After hearing my Dad talk about the film Ten Nights in a Bar Room for years, how it has stayed with him for over 50 years and how much it effected his feelings towards alcohol, I was curious when I learned that the film, as almost all good films, followed a successful novel first. Definitely a product of its time, Ten Nights is a hard-to-put-down novella about the spiraling downfall of the fictional town of Cedarsville due to the presence of the tavern and hard liquor. The once jovial, hard-work ...more
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Because of its historical significance in the Temperance Movement, I have this a 5 star rating. It is a quick if dismal read and made an impact as intended by its author in 1854
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beginning was slow, but then it got gothic—in there words: good.
Bill FromPA
Our image of the US in the 1850s is of a country starkly divided between free states and slave states, the tensions between which permeated politics and many aspects of daily life. Indeed a novel from the 1830s, Sheppard Lee, Written by Himself, gives a similar impression of the US two decades earlier, and one can only imagine that the tensions expressed there would be even more pronounced in the decade leading to the Civil War. But in Cedarville, the fictional setting of Ten Nights in a Bar- ...more
Aug 24, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ma
Read for Masters programme to contextualise Uncle Tom's Cabin

Provides biblical arguments to support temperance, despite the obvious flaw in that prohibition goes against God's rationale for giving humans free will. Even the drinkers vote for temperance in this book. In my experience people with a drink problem are very rarely the first to recognise their problem and therefore would not request this drastic salvation. The impression created is that all patrons of the inn are helpless to drink and
Jun 06, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Apparently, this was one of the most important temperance novels of the 19th century, and it reads as such. This novel is essentially an overwrought, worst-possible-case guide to bar-room life that resonates with sensationalism and unintentional hilariousness more often than realism. As the characters descend further and further into total debasement, the narrator peppers the text with "support the Maine Law" messages. Obviously, I'm taking this novel out of its historical context with this revi ...more
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kobo-on-palm-pre
Having been raised myself in a bar next door to the author's home town of Fort Montgomery, I am fascinated to read what is called the best Temperance novel of the 19th century. Set in the 1850s, this morality tale portrays the evil of alcohol in the story of a mill owner who sells his mill to build a tavern in town. Told by a visitor to the town who stays at the tavern for ten days over a period of ten years, he shows how customers and owner are all too weak to resist the temptations of demon ru ...more
Second highest selling book in 19th century America (behind Uncle Tom's cabin)--but of course, that doesn't make it good reading! A lurid prohibitionist screed (I suspect most ppl read it for its luridness than its moral message), including death, insanity, destroyed families, broken & untrusted laws and men of laws, etc.
Some interesting/telling moments around arguments for temperance in the time (1854), property values in relationship to new saloons, etc.
Tim Kruse
Sep 26, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those wondering if drinking isn't so bad...
It’s your typical late nineteenth century writing, not my favorite, but quite descriptive and to the point. Maybe old school for some, but the transcending truths of the lifestyle surrounding drinking should make people think twice before indulging in a needless practice.

K.A. Masters
T. S. Arthur's "Ten Nights in a Bar Room" is 250 pages of heavy-handed, sanctimonious Temperance propaganda. ...more
Joseph D
A hilarious time capsule.
Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

this is one of those classic turn of the century novels about the evils of liquor. I founf it interesting, but I mainly read it because it is a classic leather bound copy in my family.
Sep 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics-2
EXCELLENT STORY-TELLING. Changed my alignment from popular opinion, that I didn't even know I had. ...more
Tony Poerio
Odd book by today's standards.

But strangely entertaining, and insightful from an historical perspective.

Like Reefer Madness, but for alcohol.
Tom Rowe
3.5 stars.
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was hilarious. And terrible. I enjoyed it.
Jan 15, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Jacob Kiper
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Full name: Timothy Shay Arthur. Founder of the magazines Arthur's Home Gazette, Arthur's Home Magazine, and The Children's Hour, and editor of the Baltimore Athenaeum and Baltimore Saturday Visitor. ...more

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