Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

The Great Illusion: An Informal History of Prohibition
Herbert Asbury


With the passing of the Volstead Act, the United States embraced Prohibition as the law of the land. From 1920 to 1933, the well-intentioned ban of the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors gave rise to a flourishing culture of bootleggers, gangsters, and corrupt officials. This witty and perceptive history by Herbert Asbury, the bestselling author of The Gangs of New York, offers a wide-ranging survey of the Prohibition era that covers not only twentieth-century events but also the movement’s inception in colonial times and its transformation into a religious crusade A considerable portion of Americans viewed the end of liquor trafficking as an act of obedience to God’s will and anticipated a new era of peace and prosperity. Instead, a vast criminal network of black market profiteers took root, promoting a spirit of lawlessness throughout the country. The Great Illusion charts all aspects of the period’s moral decline, from the activities of rumrunners who supplied speakeasies to those of crooked politicians and police who profited from the failed experiment of Prohibition.

Paperback, 288pp
Dover Publications, 2018 (1950)
ISBN 9780486824680