Dry Manhattan by Michael A. Lerner

Dry Manhattan

In this evocative history, Lerner reveals Prohibition to be the defining issue of the era, the first major 'culture war' of the 20th century, and a harbinger of the social and moral debates that divide America even today.

Details Dry Manhattan

TitleDry Manhattan
Release DateMar 1st, 2007
PublisherHarvard University Press
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, New York, Politics, Food and Drink, Food, North American Hi..., American History

Reviews Dry Manhattan

  • Dale
    I continued my exploration of the fascinating Prohibition era with this book, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations for it. It's a perfectly competent history as presented, but I was expecting something a little more focused. I wanted to know how the denizens of New York City lived through and dealt with Prohibition. As it turns out, according to Lerner, the answer by and large is "they ignored it". But that would make for a pretty short...
  • Aaron Jerviss
    This is a fairly readable and relatively fascinating introduction to Prohibition including the important aspects of politics, culture, gender, and race. It is, however, fundamentally flawed. On one hand, the size, racial/ethnic diversity, and cosmopolitan culture of New York City make it a perfect locale for a Prohibition study. On the other hand, I found myself continually asking: How representative of the larger American Prohibition experience ...
  • Elizabeth
    Prohibition has been called the "noble experiment"--it should be called the stupid decade. This is an evocative study in how a movement can create a groundswell and change history, even if the movement is wrong-minded. Indeed, there is a simple lack of knowledge of human nature that impels people to outlaw activities. The author covers the ideas that led to prohibition and the simple reason it didn't work--people want to drink. Of course, it was ...
  • Mallory
    An interesting read about Prohibition, with special focus on how Prohibition impacted the culture of New York City, as well as New York City's impact on the eventual appeal of Prohibition. I had never considered the bigoted forces behind the dry movement, as not only did the law impact ethnic minorities the most, but was also harshly enforced on minorities and the working poor, while many of the elite continued to drink with impunity. The only si...
  • Jo Anne
    Really enjoyed this very concise history of prohibition in New York City. I originally got the book because my grandfather was a bootlegger in NYC and I was hoping to find out more about how the bootleggers operated. Unfortunately the book doesn't get down to that level of detail, but it was still fascinating, and I learned enough to guess that my grandfather was probably part of the Rothstein gang of bootleggers. I especially enjoyed reading abo...
  • Stephen
    "Dry Manhattan" tells you a lot about New York, a little less about Prohibition, and somehow gets the mix right. The Eighteenth Amendment, if author Michael Lerner's research and interpretations are correct, was birthed by the boozy saloons of New York City's immigrant quarters and foundered upon the same immovable rock of intemperance. Protestant folks in middle America couldn't abide by the sin-soaked goings-on in the Big Apple and other urban ...
  • Lucy
    This was also a book for US History thesis paper. This book talks about life in the 1920s, but especially prohibition. When the Nineteenth Amendment prohibited the making, selling and drinking of alcohol, many problems occurred. In New York City, speakeasies (underground bars) started opening. The people in charge of these were part of mafias and gangs. The Twenties was an unsafe time to live in because there was a lot of gang violence. No one ca...
  • victoria.p
    I enjoyed this, though it wasn't quite what I was expecting (gangsters and g-men, flappers and booze) when I picked it up. It's a political history of Prohibition - how the dry lobby came to power, got large parts of the country on board with outlawing alcohol (enough to make it a Constitutional amendment), and then how cities ignored and circumvented it over the years the amendment was in place, creating a political movement culminating in its r...
  • Heather
    It took me a really long time to read this. The subject matter was very interesting to me, since i have read several books that take place during the Prohibition era, but the writing style drags a little. I think I fell asleep every time I stated to read it.There is a lot of detail of laws & names of key players that was a little hard to keep up with. Some terms seemed to be introduced without explanation (like the committee of Fourteen) & I kept...
  • David McCormick
    One of those books that are difficult to rate. On the one hand the book is brisk and pleasurable to read. On the other hand there isn't much here that I haven't read before. In fact, anyone who has seen the Ken Burns documentary will have heard over half of what this book has to say, yet this isn't really a criticism. A very well researched and written smallish book on Prohibition in New York City. Five stars for one's first book on the subject, ...
  • W.R. German
    Those who want to understand the American right-wing thuggary of today would do well to read this book, which details just how America fell into the hands of the Prohibitionists in the early 20th century. The same bullying, political blackmail and harassment tactics are well detailed in this highly readable post-mortem of the "Dry" movement--reinforcing the saying that "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."Read how turning...
  • Lawrence
    This book was unintentionally(?) funny: the personalities written large, the rhetoric of the campaigns, etc. An interesting social and political view of prohibition with perhaps a bit of NYC centrism. Good explication of the anti-immigrant sentiment and other prejudices underlying the dry movement and the desire for social reform. Good information on the concerted campaign to pass prohibition and the long-time-in-coming political response to repe...
  • Fletcher
    I can only imagine that New York in the roaring Twenties and Prohibition Era was filled with a lot of amazing stories. This book studiously avoids those stories that would transform it into a popular history, and yet it isn't well-written enough to be an excellent history. I got a feel for the politics and the passions of the time, but only a single thread at a time which left me doubting the author's grasp of events.
  • jankreidler
    Reviewed this non fiction book for the Journal of American Culture recently....excellent read for anyone interested in American culture or politics....shows how the squeaky wheel gets things done in this country and how fundamentalism backfires when the will of a few is imposed on the many. Theme seems contemporary. We didn't learn much from history, unfortunately! Gotta love the Jazz age!
  • Jessie Clever
    This is an excellent book for anyone looking to dive in to the history of NYC in the 1920s through the lens of Prohibition. Really good look at events in the city from a cultural and political standpoint to understand what life was like in NYC from the ratification of the 18th Amendment to its repeal. Very good resource of historical authors.
  • David McCormick
    This is a good introductory look at Prohibition in New York. Anyone who has seen the Ken Burns documentary on this subject will see little new material in this book. It's a perfectly competent and enjoyable book on Prohibition, but surprisingly light (in my opinion) for a scholarly book published by Harvard UP.
  • Adam Klinker
    Always suspected it was easy to get around Prohibition in NYC, this book shows how. Also a fascinating cultural statement on how ridiculous Prohibition was in a place bringing together so many cultures and ethnicities. It's definitely from the country to the city, with xenophobia leading the way for the Drys.
  • Nghia
    I didn't like this book that much because i think it has a lot of information about the prohibition which make it a little boring after a while. If you want to learn about prohibition, this book would teach you a thing or more.
  • Anja
    If you are interested in prohibition and NYC then I recommend reading this book. It can be confusing at time as the author delves into the many players in prohibition in NYC. It is amazing how many things the failed experiment brought to NYC.
  • Anna Tatelman
    Great read on Prohibition. Contains lots of topics, causes, and effects of prohibition not normally discussed, such as "non-native" Americans being punished for booze possession far more than the white elites.
  • Matt
    I thought that the book was alright I didn't really like it that much. It was sort of an easy read I guess. I wouldn't really recommened this book unless you need to learn about the prohibition.
  • Lunger
    This is an excellent history well told. The book is packed with information and insight. I'm anxious to read it again.
  • Lana
    I like it so far. Easy read, and different. I'll have a more detailed review soon.
  • Tad Richards
    Everything you'd want from popular history. A fascinating subject that one sort of knows about, but not really. Excellent research, well organized, separates myth from reality, and well written.
  • Robin
    You think you know about the Prohibition Era? Bet you this book could teach you a thing or two.
  • William
    Possible lessons for the War on Drugs? Dunno, but the tales of Gotham during the days of the drys will wrap you up. Particularly if read with a nicely poured Manhattan.
  • Amelie
    My cousin wrote this!
  • scott
    Learned that I am right
  • columbialion
    The same folks who brought us Prohibition are still with us today...only we call them the Religious Right. AND THEY ARE MORE DANGEROUS NOW!!