March 31, 2016
I found Chapter 4, “Gestures of Daring, Signs of Revolt”, from Lisa McGirr’s book The War on Alcohol to be very revealing. The chapter educates the reader to the fact that prohibition was about much more than just alcohol. Prior to reading this chapter, I was not aware of the fact that prohibition contributed to the rise of consumer capitalism, a new style of night life that changed cultural norms and laid the groundwork for the Harlem Renaissance. In addition, I learned that the failed experiment known as the 18th Amendment set into motion a broadened and fierce battle over civil liberties.
What I didn’t find surprising was that prohibition was spurred by a group of religious women seeking to put an end to what they considered degenerate behavior. On the other hand, I was surprised by the fact that the anti-alcohol crusade sparked the birth of the Ku Klux Klan and their grand war against that which they saw as a threat to the American way of life. Ultimately, McGirr notes how the overreaching government forgot one thing which was pointed out by an anti-Prohibitionist writer, “There is just one thing that the ‘reformers’ overlooked. They forget, if they ever knew it, that the ‘hunt,’ the ‘pursuit of the unattainable,’ is the most fascinating game in the world” (McGirr, 2016, p. 109).
I am looking forward to reading the remainder of The War on Alcohol and discovering what else Lisa McGirr has to reveal.
Catana L Barnes is the President of Independent Voters of Nevada (IVON).