Smugglers, Bootleggers, and Scofflaws: Prohibition and New York City
With the Eightieth anniversary of Prohibition’s repeal having just passed, America’s experiment with teetotaling is fresh in many minds. That makes the timing of Smugglers, Bootleggers, and Scofflaws immaculate. Essentially an extended research paper about Prohibition’s effect on New York City, the book charts how the city itself was changed, as well as exploring some of the greater issues of the era, like the emergence of organized crime and the evolution of the modern party.
Lawson offers an intriguing microcosm for the era as a whole in her examination of accounts of criminals, icons, and changing societal values, especially when compared to the more familiar battlegrounds of Chicago and the Canadian border. Rich with personalities and anecdotes, not to mention insight on the smuggling and prosecution sides of the Prohibition coin, Smugglers, Bootleggers, and Scofflaws adds deeper shading to an already colorful time period.
At times, Lawson does grow a little too focused on the minutiae, trading narrative momentum for further detail, but the book remains a fascinating addition to Prohibition studies, casting a spotlight into a surprisingly under-researched corner of modern history.
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