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I have yet to read the entire book, but if Chapter 13, "Chicago," is any indication of his methodology, as a historian, I cannot recommend it. He refers to the television series "The Untouchables" as being a paean to the FBI and overseen and censored by J. Edgar Hoover. I would like for Behr to have cited his sources at this point.
"The Untouchables" had nothing to do with the FBI. The men referred to by that sobriquet, the team of investigators headed by Eliot Ness, operated under the Treasury Department, as part of the Prohibition Bureau. The only other government agency referred to in the series is the Internal Revenue Bureau (as it was known in the 1930s), which built the income-tax evasion case against Al Capone. It would have helped, I think, if Behr had actually watched the series before referring to it to bolster his argument. His ignorance of the series damages his argument.
I doubt seriously that J. Edgar Hoover had input, though this is a point that may bear researching. It seems extremely unlikely, however, since the government agencies portrayed in the episodes were the Treasury Department's sub-agencies, the Prohibition Bureau and the Internal Revenue Bureau. The FBI, which was then and is now a bureau of the Justice Department, was not portrayed in the series.
Behr also charges that the show did not reflect how ruthless the gangsters portrayed in its episodes actually were because, for one thing, never was there any mention of corrupt public officials. On the contrary, that was one of the pervasive plot elements of the series. Time and again in the episodes, good public officials were assassinated to make room for corruption to take hold, or officials already in place were shown to be "on the pad" to some mobster.
Behr rightly states that the series had nothing to do with reality. It was a fictionalization, a series of "film noir" stories told to entertain, and even thrill, its audience. It was a series of morality plays. I also agree with Behr that the episodes told stark stories of good versus evil. That is the nature of a morality play: good is good and evil is evil, with no equivocation. Whether or not this floats one's boat is for each to decide.
After I have read the entire book, I will expand this review.
 

Review: Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America

User Review  - Loren Kantor - Goodreads

Cool information but the writing is a bit "dry" (pun firmly intended). Read full review

Review: Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America

User Review  - Jazzfeathers - Goodreads

An easy to read introduction to the Prohibition Era. I too have spotted some inaccuracies (and I see from other reviews there are more than I expected), and it's true the book sometimes floats away ... Read full review

Review: Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America

User Review  - Michael - Goodreads

Not to bad. The book is mostly about some of the main players in the Prohibition years. I think I was hoping for more info about the national responses or how events played out and the general public ... Read full review

Review: Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America

User Review  - Annalisa - Goodreads

Mr. Behr has written a very comprehensive account of the turbulent years around Prohibition. Since I write historical romance in that time period, I found the material extremely useful. The mind set ... Read full review

Review: Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America

User Review  - Tara Godfrey - Goodreads

Very interesting book on prohibition. Makes me want to learn more about the subject and the time period and the cast of characters in the book. Read full review

Review: Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America

User Review  - Barry - Goodreads

Pretty interesting recap of the story behind Prohibition. Amazing how similar it is to some of the goverment programs currently proposed! Read full review

Review: Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America

User Review  - Roger Briggs - Goodreads

An interesting time in our brief history lost in today's news... Read full review

Review: Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America

User Review  - Hapzydeco - Goodreads

America's 13 year hangover. Good historical photos. Can legislation alone solve America's problems? Read full review

Review: Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America

User Review  - Brittany - Goodreads

I love history books, especially when they cover speakeasies and the prohibition. Might be a little packed with facts, but I loved how much I learned about what went on behind the prohibition and what caused it. Read full review


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