Prohibition with Dave Flaten- a Reading & Discussion Series

A NEW reading and film series on Prohibition: Thirteen years that Changed America.   This series, facilitated by Prof David Flaten, will examine at the background, the impact and the long lasting effects of America’s failed experiment with the constitutional amendment that outlawed the sale and production of intoxicating beverages and its ramifications.

Texts include:

  • Prohibition: The Thirteen Years That Changed America by Edward Behr
  • Last Call : The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent
  • selections from local and regional history

Register here to reserve your copies of the texts for the series. Attendance at all the programs is not required. This program is made possible through a generous grant from Humanities New York.

Syllabus & Reading Schedule

  • September 12-A nation of Drunkards
    • Behr Ch 1- 5
    • Okrent Part I The Struggle pp 1 – 115
  • October 17- A Nation of Scofflaws NOTE THE DATE CHANGE
    • Behr Ch 6-8, 11-12
    • Okrent Part II The Flood pp 115 – 225
  • November 14- War of the Wet and Dry and the Rise of the Crime boss
    • Behr Ch 9,10, 13-15
    • Okrent Part III The War of the Wet and Dry pp 225- 311
  • December 12– How it All Came Down and the Lessons Learned
    • Behr CH 16 – 17
    • Okrent Part IV: The Beginning of the End, The End and After pp 311- 376

Excerpts from the films will be shown corresponding to the topics for discussion as related to the readings.  Excerpts will comprise up to 20 minutes at a time. As you read, consider these questions:

  1. How did Prohibition try to legislate morality?
  2. How did Prohibition impact the market economy?
  3. Did Prohibition deliver on the promises made to earn passage?
  4. How was a minority able to impose their ideas on all the USA?
  5. How did Prohibition impact US relationships with neighboring countries?
  6. How did massive corruption weaken enforcement?
  7. How did criminals like Al Capone or George Remus become Prohibition legends?
  8. How did journalism and the literary output affect the Prohibition experiment?
  9. How does the memory of Prohibition impact current thought and politics?