Deliver Us From Evil: An Interpretation of American Prohibition, by Norman H. Clark. New York: W W Norton & Co., 1976. Contents, Index, Bibliography, pp. 246.
This book is a sympathetic look at prohibition yet it still doesn't hide the fact that prohibition was just a bad idea. The author is a fairly interesting writer and the book is not a bad read. It would have been nice if he had used footnotes but at least he does acknowledge his sources at the end of the book.
This book looks at prohibition and how it comes about in the United States. The first third of the book looks at early temperance movements and how they gained political power during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This power came about not only by combating alcohol, but by also using the urban versus rural conflict that was going on at the time. As the 19th century came to an end, cities were getting bigger and had more political power than ever before. Much of the political power came from immigrants and these new Americans often met in their neighborhood saloon or tavern for social functions. Controlling the saloon controlled the vote. Prohibitionist were able to play upon American prejudice to attack the urban saloon.
The book spends some time discussing prohibition and the attempts to enforce the law. The law was doomed to fail because it depended upon the states to pay for enforcement and some states, such as New York, refused to do so. The book ends with the growth of the repeal movement and the legacies left behind by prohibition.
The book is a good one to have in a bourbon library. It has a lot of interesting social history behind the prohibition movement and is written from a sympathetic point of view towards the prohibitionist. It can really help the reader to ubderstand just how wrong these social reformers really were.