The author explores the process of prohibition of the production, sale and even transportation of alcohol and any other intoxicating liquor in the United States. He explains how this prohibition came into effect. He says that the prohibition came through the eighteenth amendment to the American constitution whose cause was fueled by several movements among them being the famous anti-immigrant sentiment and temperance movement among others. He breaks down on the politics involved in this prohibition in the year 1919 till the enactment of the prohibition in the year that followed. The author is generally trying to put across the changes that took place after the prohibition was effected both in terms of culture and way of life. He explores the reaction of the ordinary citizens where he asks and provides answers to this social experiment that seems not to be successful due to the outcomes witnessed like rise in gangster era.
The author relied on the primary sources to obtain first hand information concerning this scenario. He collected this information from the ordinary American citizens to gauge their perception concerning prohibition that was effected following the eighteenth amendment to the constitution. However he also employed secondary works like the constitution review in explaining the amendments made to the constitution that prohibited any intoxicating liquor in United States.
The sources were very appropriate to the main theme that the author was trying to put across following the fact that he wanted to explore the politics of prohibition and the consequences that followed. He had to get the information from the citizens themselves. Being a journalist, the author has demonstrated good skills on the use and analysis of various sources to explore the politics of prohibition. One example demonstrating good use of the sources is where he explores prohibition not only in terms of what was amended in the constitution but also applies this knowledge to relate prohibition to the earliest themes in the 20th century and traces its roots of emergence from ethnic, religious, social and political backgrounds.
According to my own observation of the author’s ideas, I think he demonstrates some form of prejudice and bias. He terms the whole prohibition scenario as a failed social experiment. He says that many ordinary citizens did not respond positively following the enactment of this prohibition. In other words, the ordinary American citizens did not welcome the amendment. As much as the law enforcers expected positive outcomes in terms of culture and way of life, the opposite turned out as the outcome. According to my own assessment, this is a very interesting book in a way that it explores the process of change, enactment of change and the outcomes of change. As much as change is desirable, sometimes the more things are changed, the more they remain the same and this has been well demonstrated in this book where by banning of alcohol did not realize changes expected. Instead, things remained the same as before leading to a failed social experiment.
This is a very useful book in this course as it teaches on prohibition and effects of change. In order to be successful in enacting new laws, the ordinary citizens play a vital role since they are the ones that determine the success of the change.