Thursday, 10 February 2011

Lad Lit Book Reviews: The Bootleggers by Kenneth Allsop

Books For Men Book Reviews! The Bootleggers by Kenneth Allsop
Imagine wandering into your local with the boys on a Saturday night for that first drink of the day, only to be told that the sale and manufacturing of alcohol had been banned and deemed illegal to do so across the nation. You can almost hear the uproar from the daily Weatherspoon contingent of heavy drinkers, bemoaning the fact that they have nowhere else to spend their job seekers allowance!

I’m not too sure if that is a sad indictment of the fact we rely so heavily on alcohol as part of our social expression, or the fact that we would be well within our rights to rally against the Government to put forward our right to drink J├Ągerbomb’s when we want!

Whatever the answer, this is what happened in 1920 in the United States when the US Congress enacted a law which did indeed ban the sale and manufacture of alcohol nationwide, and in Kenneth Allsop’s book, he tackles the prohibition era which still remains as popular as ever in film, music, and of course books!

The 13-year ban would play a major role in the rise of the Chicago Outfit headed up by Al Capone, and Allsop not only covers this but also explains the historical and political reasons that led to the ban. Men such as Capone, Johnny Torio, Dion O'Banion and Big Jim Colosimo would seize on the advantage of supply and demand, while law enforcement turned a blind eye as long as they were rewarded. For a law that was created to improve the moral compass of a nation, it backfired spectacularly and simply created a trail of blood that funded street thugs to unimaginable wealth.

This is a good account of the rise of Chicago gangsters, and one that should be able to hold the attention of even a casual reader interested in the subject. Even though Allsop doesn’t shy away from the facts and discusses the frightening actions these men took to clasp Chicago in their grip, he also manages to capture the era through a dry sense of humour which keeps the book moving along at a good pace, and his knowledge on the subject shines through.

I can only really compare this book against the numerous other books I have read on the subject of the American Mafia, and that is the only reason it probably does get higher than a 3-star rating - there are other books I've simply enjoyed more. Due to the fact that the book was written in 1961, Allsop was probably unable to report on some key facts (such as the name and antics of one Joe Kennedy). All in all though, a thorough description of this infamous yet iconic era.

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