Title: Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition
Author: Karen Blumenthal
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Concepts: incentives, markets, price, scarcity, distribution, consumers, producers, supply and demand, taxes
Review: Following decades of pressure from temperance groups that opposed excessive drinking, the Eighteenth Amendment was officially added to the U.S. Constitution in 1919. This amendment, which went into effect a year later, prohibited the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors. However, rather than promote the well-being of families and put a radical end to alcohol consumption, prohibition wound up increasing the production and consumption of illicit alcohol as well as the incidence of violent crime. With insufficient resources or political will to adequately enforce prohibition and with the growing severity of criminal activity, the government repealed the Eighteenth Amendment in 1933.
This historical narrative provides an interesting account of the individuals, groups, and social forces associated with the temperance movement and the thirteen-year period in which prohibition was legally in effect. Thoroughly engrained are a number of important lessons in economics, including the government's reliance on alcohol as a source of tax revenue, the powerful incentives created by prohibition in affecting the behavior of both producers and consumers, and the impact of supply and demand forces on the price of alcohol. Young history buffs are bound to learn a great deal about this volatile period in American history from this well-researched book.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children