Summary Of Last Call By Daniel Okrent

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Daniel Okrent’s book Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition is a thorough history of the Prohibition era. Okrent’s narrative is an easy to follow and enjoyable read. During the first few pages of his book, Okrent clearly lays out the themes and ideas he will explore throughout. While Okrent demonstrates that January 17, 1920 brought Prohibition after the ratification of the 18th Amendment the year prior that banned the manufacturing, sale and transportation of alcohol, he also argues that the prohibition was far more complex than this amendment. Okrent argues that the 18th Amendment was a culmination of social and political movements, leading to the dryness of a country. He also argues that the Prohibition movement played a large role …show more content…

He writes, “America had been awash in drink from the start – wading hip-deep in it, swimming in it, at various times in its history nearly drowning in it” (7). He argues that Prohibition had an effect on the political and social sphere. One of the permanent impacts it made was the creation of the federal income tax, which is mentioned numerous times throughout the book. He says that “those in the dry movement who understood political and governmental reality, imposition of an income tax was also an absolutely necessary step if they were going to break the federal addiction to the alcohol excise tax” (57). This made “a Prohibition amendment fiscally feasible,”(95) and is still part of politics today. One big change on the social sphere came from the speakeasies, suburban country clubs and inner-city social clubs (211). Okrent says, “Prohibition changed not only where American’s drank, but who drank as well” (211). This is what Okrent calls the “sexual integration of the drinking culture,” (211) in which women and men drank in the same place at the same time. Women no longer had barriers when it came to drink, as they had in the past. Prohibitionists also fought for universal suffrage, public education and even federal control of interstate commerce, important points to consider that changed the world …show more content…

Okrent demonstrates that one of the many movements which forced Prohibition into a reality was the growing power of the women’s suffrage political movement. In 1916, the ASL (Anti-Saloon League) began to endorse woman’s suffrage (65). Prior to this, Okrent demonstrates how the rise of the suffrage movement was directly linked to Prohibition, which was also quickly gaining popularity (14). Okrent demonstrates that in the social sphere, women and children were often mistreated by the men in the home, who would drink to excess and become violent or perhaps spend the family’s money on alcohol (17). Another contributing movement, Okrent states, was that of the Protestants. Okrent pushes the idea that Prohibition was an “Anglo-Saxon-Protestant issue” (192) and they were proven to continuously push for the cause. Politics and alcohol held close ties during the push for Prohibition (47), and Protestant “aristocrats” such as Roosevelt disliked this relationship, viewing it as corrupt. (48) Protestant women, like the Daughters of Temperance (15), were a force to be reckoned with. The biggest issue Protestant’s had though, according to Okrent, was the immigrant population and their usage of the saloons. (48) Okrent highlights that one of the forces in favour of Prohibition was the mindset held by many Americans. Many Americans were strongly

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