Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition by Karen Blumenthal

Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All the thinky-thoughts Jews are currently talking about Jews and Booze, a book for grownups about, uh, Jews and booze. The NYTBR evaluation was dead-on: the title was the best thing about it. The writing was kinda leaden and repetitive and un-zingy. Karen Blumenthal’s book, on the other hand, which is for KIDS and about prohibition in general — not just about the Jews, though it talks a lot (obviously) about religion’s role in the struggle and also about some of the nutty Jews involved in both the bootlegging side and the crime-fighting side of things–is so lively and fun and thought-provoking, it noodged me to ponder, independently, many of the ideas the more academic-y book discusses so laboriously.

So is this gonna be a FUN READ for most kids? Well, no. Most kids do not go “WHEE LEMME READ A BOOK ABOUT OLD TIMEY TEMPERANCE MOVEMENTS THIS WEEKEND! CRANK UP THE VICTROLA!” But for those who DO (and I applaud you, youth), and for those who have to do a paper for school or something that might entice them to pick up this book: You are in for a treat. A treat much like a perfectly made pisco sour with pages. Which you are not old enough to drink, nyah nyah.

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