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The American Clean?

Dec 3, 2010
The American Clean?
Prohibition was more complicated--and disastrous--than you know.

last_callThis Sunday, December 5, is important--and not because there are only 19 shopping days before Christmas. This is the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, one of the most baffling, interesting and formative periods in American history.

Between 1920 and 1933 the manufacture, transport and sale of alcohol was illegal. You may know a little about the havoc caused by the Constitutional measure from HBO's Boardwalk Empire, but we recommend picking up a copy of Daniel Okrent's must-read Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.

Okrent takes us from Manhattan speakeasies to the vineyards of California and shows us what life was like under the federal ban on alcohol. Point blank: It was terrible. Organized crime blossomed and public health went south due to consumption of badly made bootleg alcohol. But that's only part of the story. Several other forces were at play, such as the women's suffrage movement, the post-WWI anti-German sentiment and even the rise of the automobile and the income tax. Today, many of Prohibition's effects still echo through American life--such as the current debate in Congress over direct-to-consumer wine shipments.

This Sunday, Team Daily Sip will pour a huge glass of wine in honor of Okrent--and just for ourselves because, well, we can.

What do you think was the most damaging effect of Prohibition? Tell us below.


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