The most recommended books on Prohibition in the USA

Who picked these books? Meet our 13 experts.

13 authors created a book list connected to Prohibition in the USA, and here are their favorite Prohibition in the USA books.
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What type of Prohibition in the USA book?


Last Call

By Daniel Okrent,

Book cover of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

Sarah Rowlands Author Of The Periodic Table of Wine

From the list on how history has influenced wines.

Who am I?

I became intensely interested in wine while working in a Michelin Star kitchen where understanding how flavours work together, developing nuances in my palate, and an interesting wine list combine. Enthusiasm and passion led to success in wine examinations at the highest levels, working in wine retail, travelling the globe visiting amazing vineyards, and wineries, meeting iconic winemakers, influential vineyards managers, as well as other luminaries in the world of wine. The greatest benefit being many new friends and lifelong special memories. Along with the wine tastings I give, The Periodic Table of Wine is a way to share discovering wine and the joy it brings to new audiences.

Sarah's book list on how history has influenced wines

Why did Sarah love this book?

Americans have quite a different relationship with alcohol compared to Europeans. This book uncovers the background of how Prohibition came about, how influences other than alcohol were key, along with the ingenuity of people on both sides of the debate to put their case or dodge the restrictions. Full of stories that explore the men, indomitable women, bootleggers, and economic as well as social forces and hypocrisy involved in the establishment and eventual repeal of Prohibition laws across America.

By Daniel Okrent,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Last Call as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brilliant, authoritative, and fascinating history of America’s most puzzling era, the years 1920 to 1933, when the US Constitution was amended to restrict one of America’s favorite pastimes: drinking alcoholic beverages.

From its start, America has been awash in drink. The sailing vessel that brought John Winthrop to the shores of the New World in 1630 carried more beer than water. By the 1820s, liquor flowed so plentifully it was cheaper than tea. That Americans would ever agree to relinquish their booze was as improbable as it was astonishing.

Yet we did, and Last Call is Daniel Okrent’s dazzling…

The Savoy Cocktail Book

By Harry Craddock,

Book cover of The Savoy Cocktail Book

Lesley Jacobs Solmonson Author Of The 12 Bottle Bar: Make Hundreds of Cocktails with Just Twelve Bottles

From the list on chronicle the history of cocktails.

Who am I?

Lesley Jacobs Solmonson has written the book Gin: A Global History and is completing Liqueur: A Global History. Her work has been seen in the Los Angeles Times, Imbibe, Sierra, and Gourmet. She is Senior Editor at Chilled magazine, as well as Cocktail/Spirits Historian at the Center of Culinary Culture in Los Angeles. With her husband David Solmonson, Lesley co-wrote The 12 Bottle Bar, a #1 best-selling cocktail book on Amazon. Named one of the “9 Best Cocktail Books" by the Independent UK, The 12 Bottle Bar is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of the American Cocktail. The Solmonsons’ work has been featured in numerous media outlets.

Lesley's book list on chronicle the history of cocktails

Why did Lesley love this book?

Harry Craddock was a master behind the bar, and The Savoy Cocktail Book may be the most thorough chronicle of classic recipes from the Prohibition era. With the 18th Amendment, Americans had only two choices if they wanted a drink in a bar: go to an illegal speakeasy or head to places beyond the grip of the teetotalers. One of these spots was the American Bar in London’s Savoy Hotel, so named because it was one of the first bars where one could sip “American” cocktails. The no-nonsense layout and massive breadth of the recipes make this a must-have for both the layman and the professional. Among Harry Craddock’s words of wisdom is this nugget: “Shake the shaker as hard as you can: don’t just rock it: you are trying to wake it up, not send it to sleep!” I follow this advice with every drink I shake.

By Harry Craddock,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Savoy Cocktail Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published by Constable in 1930, the Savoy Cocktail Book features 750 of the Savoy's most popular recipes. It is a fascinating record of the cocktails that set London alight at the time - and which are just as popular today. Taking you from Slings to Smashes, Fizzes to Flips, and featuring art deco illustrations, this book is the perfect gift for any budding mixologist or fan of 1930s-style decadence and sophistication. Updated with a new introduction and recipes from The Savoy.

The Story of Wine

By Hugh Johnson,

Book cover of The Story of Wine: From Noah to Now

Rod Phillips Author Of French Wine: A History

From the list on the history of wine.

Who am I?

I’ve been passionate about wine since I was a teenager in New Zealand and I now teach and write about it, judge in wine competitions, and travel the world to visit wine regions. I teach European history and the history of food and drink at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. As a wine historian, I spend weeks each year in archives, studying everything from changes in vineyard area and the weather in specific years to the taxation of wine and patterns of wine drinking. Currently, I’m working in several French archives for a book on wine in the French Revolution. It will be my ninth wine book.

Rod's book list on the history of wine

Why did Rod love this book?

This bestselling book first came out long before my own global history of wine and it has gone through a number of editions as well as translations. It takes on the long history of wine ‘from Noah to Now’ in a readable, well-informed narrative – as we would expect of Hugh Johnson, who is one of the best-known English wine writers and authors. His richly illustrated book has global range and covers all the world’s wine-producing regions. It’s an excellent example of history written for a non-specialist readership and is probably the book that has done more than any other to bring history to the attention of wine lovers.

By Hugh Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Story of Wine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Who better to supply us with our first comprehensive historical survey than the wine writer with the magic pen, Hugh Johnson?" - Jancis Robinson MW

Hugh Johnson has led the literature of wine in many new directions over a 60-year career. His classic The Story of Wine is his most enthralling and enduring work, winner of every wine award in the UK and USA. It tells with wit, scholarship and humour how wine became the global phenomenon it is today, varying from mass-produced plonk to rare bottles fetching many thousands. It ranges from Noah to Napa, Pompeii to Prohibition to…

The Bloody Mary

By Brian Bartels,

Book cover of The Bloody Mary: The Lore and Legend of a Cocktail Classic, with Recipes for Brunch and Beyond

Frank Caiafa Author Of The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book

From the list on to start a drinker’s library.

Who am I?

I was raised in a ‘hospitality forward’ household to say the least. My parents always had family and friends over the house eating and drinking and although no one was in the food and beverage industry, most of the folks all had something to say about food and beverage. It was a fundamental part of the conversation. It carried over to me and became something that I focused on even before I was ever in the service industry. With experience, I became more knowledgeable, and my tastes became wider and a bit more refined, but the seeds were planted long ago.

Frank's book list on to start a drinker’s library

Why did Frank love this book?

Ending as I began, on the lighter side of things, I think that The Bloody Mary makes for an interesting single subject cocktail book as one can find. From its convoluted origins to its over-the-top renditions, the bloody mary is one of the very few recipes that have been consistently enjoyed from the Prohibition era throughout the 20th century and onward to today. Most proponents of the drink all claim to make the best one, so understanding the nuances of something as fun and all-encompassing as this brunch-time favorite, is bound to keep conversations going. And if nothing else, if you’re going to begin a drinker’s library, you may as well start with the one that’s the first drink of the day. 

By Brian Bartels,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Bloody Mary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Finalist for the 2018 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Book Awards 

The definitive guide for those devoted to the brunchtime classic, the Bloody Mary, with 50 recipes for making cocktails at home.

The Bloody Mary is one of the most universally-loved drinks. Perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and beyond, there simply isn't a wrong time for a Bloody.

In The Bloody Mary, author Brian Bartels—beverage director for the beloved West Village restaurants Jeffrey's Grocery, Joseph Leonard, Fedora, Perla, and Bar Sardine—delves into the fun history of this classic drink.(Did Hemingway create it, as legend suggests? Or was it…

Whiskey River

By Loren D. Estleman,

Book cover of Whiskey River

Rod Kackley Author Of Empty Minute: A Murder Mystery

From the list on cops and reporters bringing bad guys to justice.

Who am I?

Crime fiction, true crime, mystery, and suspense books allow us to brush up against the worst society has to offer without getting hurt. There’s a lot to be said for vicarious thrills, isn’t there. I am just a simple man telling simple stories about good vs. evil. And sometimes, in my stories, fiction or not, the bad guys win. But I do love telling stories, and when I find a good one, I can’t wait to tell you aboutit. That’s what I have done here.

Rod's book list on cops and reporters bringing bad guys to justice

Why did Rod love this book?

You have to love this book if only because the author, Loren D. Estleman, pounded out the words on a manual typewriter. Why would he do that in the 21st century? So he can keep working during power outages, that’s why.

There’s not a single one of Estleman’s books or stories I would not recommend. However, I chose Whiskey River for this review because it is historical crime fiction, taking place in the days of Prohibition. 

Whiskey River is the story of a young, ambitious reporter who risks his life to expose police and city hall corruption.

As always, Estleman brings his characters and settings to life in a way few others can.

By Loren D. Estleman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Whiskey River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Detroit in 1925 prohibition has been in force for a year longer than the rest of the States, police corruption is so rampant no-one notices the stench in City Hall. Into this scene comes Constantine Minor, a young and ambitious reporter. The author has twice won the Shamus Award.

Moonshine and Magnolias

By Abigail Sharpe,

Book cover of Moonshine and Magnolias

Cheryel Hutton Author Of The Ugly Truth

From the list on getting you lost in small town life.

Who am I?

I was raised in a don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it town in southeast Tennessee. I was embarrassed by where I came from for a long time, and worked on getting rid of my tell-tale accent. Then, as the years went on,  I figured out who I am as a person was shaped by being a small-town Southern girl. So I embraced my Southerness. When I started writing fiction, it never occurred to me to set my books anywhere but small towns, and every one of them is. I’m fact, with the exception of one, all my books are set in Tennessee. At this point, I can't imagine not writing small-town stories.

Cheryel's book list on getting you lost in small town life

Why did Cheryel love this book?

The title made me curious about this book but I wasn't sure what to expect.

What I found was an interesting cast of characters. The strong-willed heroine tried to use lists and logic to control her emotions (something I might have done a time or two). The hero was swoon-worthy in both physical and personality terms. There was a mystery that reached deep into the past.

The story played out with humor, emotion, and a strong sense of the Southern. All things I love in a novel.

By Abigail Sharpe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moonshine and Magnolias as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hotel executive Wendy Marsh puts her career on hold when she inherits half of her family’s inn. Her to-do list? It’s simple: teach her spoiled cousin how to manage Fountenoy Hall, then hightail it back to her structured, careful life in Atlanta. Romance has never been part of Wendy's plan – so what is it about the sexy history professor researching the inn that she finds so tempting?Rob Upshaw would be enjoying his time at the Inn at Fountenoy Hall if he wasn’t secretly hunting for a family treasure lost during Prohibition. Only a few minor inconveniences stand in his…


By Percy Wollaston,

Book cover of Homesteading: A Montana Family Album

Kirby Larson Author Of Hattie Big Sky

From the list on Montana during WWI.

Who am I?

I am a history-phobe turned history fanatic thanks to a snippet of a family story about my great-grandmother. Casual interest morphed into a focused passion when I learned that she truly had homesteaded-- all by herself and in her late teens-- in eastern Montana in 1917. Her accomplishment inspired four years of research and writing, resulting in my first historical novel, Hattie Big Sky, which earned a Newbery Honor award and spent weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. More importantly, that bit of family lore revealed my purpose as a writer and I have since devoted my career to bringing the past alive for today’s young readers.

Kirby's book list on Montana during WWI

Why did Kirby love this book?

This book convinced me I would never have survived as a homesteader! Though not a professional writer, Wollaston does an incredible job of drawing in the reader and sharing heartwarming and heartwrenching details about the homesteader’s life.

By Percy Wollaston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Homesteading as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"His memories flow as naturally as his writing. . . . The reader is transported back to the day when a six-year-old stepped from the train into a new life."-Smithsonian

As a grown man, Percy Wollaston almost never spoke of the homestead where he grew up-until, in 1972, nearing the age of 70, he wrote this book about his childhood years.

Lured by the government's promise of land and the promotional literature of the railroads, six-year-old Percy Wollaston's family left behind their home in North Dakota in 1909, heading West to "take up a claim." They settled near Ismay, Montana,…

Out of the Deep I Cry

By Julia Spencer-Fleming,

Book cover of Out of the Deep I Cry

Aime Austin Author Of Judged

From the list on crime fiction that made me love the human race.

Who am I?

I’m agnostic to book genre. If I see it, I will try it. I read all over the place. I just finished a book on online dating and race, the buzzy fiction of the moment, and a self-help book. There are two genre’s that are my absolute favorites, though, women’s fiction, and police procedurals. I’ve read Elizabeth George, Julia Spencer Fleming, Michael Connelly, and Tana French since they started publishing. While I enjoy the whodunit nature of the books, my favorite parts are those quiet moments of pure, unfettered relations between people who care for each other in an otherwise chaotic world. It’s what I write and what I read.

Aime's book list on crime fiction that made me love the human race

Why did Aime love this book?

This book is the third installment in the The Rev. Clare Fergusson & Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries.

This series features a small town, upstate New York police chief (Van Alstyne) and an Episcopal priest (Fergusson). When the series starts Van Alstyne is happily married, and Fergusson is new to her church.

By this book, it’s clear that the cop and the priest are attracted to each other. There’s this single scene when they’re driving in his pickup as they gather clues to solve the murder. They look at each other and it’s one hundred percent clear that not only do they have an attraction that can’t be denied.

Also they’re going to have to break their vows, his to marriage, and hers to the priesthood.

By Julia Spencer-Fleming,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Out of the Deep I Cry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On April, 1 1930, Jonathon Ketchem's wife, Jane, walked from her house to the police department to ask for help in finding her husband. The men, worn out from a night of chasing bootleggers, did what they could. But no one ever saw Jonathon Ketchem again.. Now decades later, someone else is missing in Millers Kill. This time it's the clinic's physician that bears the Ketchem name. Suspicion falls on a volatile single mother with a grudge against the doctor, but Reverend Clare Fergusson isn't convinced. As Clare and Russ investigate, they discover that the doctor's disappearance is linked to…

Sprouting Wings

By Louisa Jaggar, Shari Becker, Floyd Cooper (illustrator)

Book cover of Sprouting Wings: The True Story of James Herman Banning, the First African American Pilot to Fly Across the United States

Kathryn Erskine Author Of Mama Africa!: How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song

From the list on fascinating people.

Who am I?

Technically, I’m a lawyer and pharmacy technician but I spend my time writing, mostly for kids. I'm inspired by a childhood in different countries as well as what’s currently occurring in our world. I delight in stories for all ages, believing that even adults can enjoy and learn from picture book biographies. At the very least, they provide jumping-off points for further research, and at best they inspire us to achieve the seemingly impossible.

Kathryn's book list on fascinating people

Why did Kathryn love this book?

This is a story of an epic journey borne of determination and hard work. Despite facing discrimination, challenges to education, and lack of funds, Banning rose, literally, to the sky. The book deals with our history of racism but focuses on how Banning, with his high hopes and grit, was able to fulfill his dream. Floyd Cooper’s artwork will pull you into that place and time, heightening the experience. The backmatter shows the research that went into this book and how Banning’s fascinating story came to light.

By Louisa Jaggar, Shari Becker, Floyd Cooper (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sprouting Wings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The inspirational and true story of James Herman Banning, the first African American pilot to fly across the country, comes to life in this picture book biography perfect for fans of Hidden Figures and Little Leaders. Includes art from a Coretta Scott King award-winning illustrator.

James Herman Banning always dreamed of touching the sky. But how could a farm boy from Oklahoma find a plane? And how would he learn to fly it? None of the other pilots looked like him. Despite the challenges and prejudices that stood in his way, James knew he belonged above the clouds.

In a…

Book cover of The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book

Cecelia Tichi Author Of Gilded Age Cocktails: History, Lore, and Recipes from America's Golden Age

From the list on America’s cocktail culture.

Who am I?

Nightclubs and country clubs figured in my father’s business distributing snack foods in post-WWII “Steel City,” Pittsburgh, where I was served “Shirley Temple” cocktails in martini glasses alongside my parents’ Manhattans. (To my five- and six-year-old eye, the trophy was the maraschino cherry.) Decades later, teaching American literature in the university, my interest deepened in Jack London’s writing, and my book on him demanded close attention to the history of US cocktails and other drinks. London’s memoir, John Barleycorn, frankly details his drinking and eventual capture by alcohol. As a scholar-researcher, I was “captured” by the backstory of US cocktail culture.

Cecelia's book list on America’s cocktail culture

Why did Cecelia love this book?

Double duty as a bar book and memoir makes Crockett’s chronicle my must for skillfully conjuring two historical moments: the Golden Age of Cocktails (a.k.a. the Gilded Age) and the dark era of Prohibition. Anxious that memories of delectable cocktails and their recipes had been buried in the crypt of Prohibition’s thirteen years (1920-1933), journalist Crockett hastened to record and revive the drinks. His history is spot-on, and his fury at the nation’s failed “Noble Experiment” of Prohibition fuels this survivor’s fine wordsmithing.

By A.S. Crockett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Crockett was a prominent journalist, writer and publicist. He contributed many observations on New York City nightlife during Prohibition, especially regarding the social life of the Waldorf-Astoria. This collection provides 500 cocktail recipes served at the Waldorf and is one of the first post-Prohibition books of its kind.

The author also provides glimpses of the history of the renowned bar, where he served as the historian of the Old Waldorf Astoria.

Dark Origins

By Dave Gross, Graeme Davis, Richard Lee Byers, Chris A Jackson

Book cover of Dark Origins: Arkham Horror:  The Collected Novellas, Vol. 1

John Haas Author Of Cults of Death and Madness

From the list on Lovecraftian fiction you might have missed.

Who am I?

I’ve been reading Lovecraft, and those inspired by him, since I was in high school. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that there could be a whole world just outside of sight that we never see, and once we do see we can never un-see. After I’d been writing for a few years a friend of mine suggested/demanded I write a story for him inspired by Lovecraft’s world. Mostly I started it to satisfy him but once the jar was open it all spilled out. I wove in real elements from history, including historical figures. This story ended up winning a major award, but there was still so much more to tell.

John's book list on Lovecraftian fiction you might have missed

Why did John love this book?

Published by the makers of the Arkham Horror board and card games, the four novellas in this book follow characters from the game, giving them depth and background, bringing them to life.

This book is a perfect example of taking an existing license and transporting it to a new medium. The writing itself is modern and accessible while the stories take place in the prohibition era. What I enjoyed most is that these stories show Lovecraft created more monsters than just Cthulhu.

There is more danger in Lovecraftian fiction than one horrible, sleeping god.

By Dave Gross, Graeme Davis, Richard Lee Byers, Chris A Jackson

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dark Origins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Ancient Ones are coming to consume our world, and only the bold investigators of Arkham Horror stand in their way, in this chilling collection of eldritch novellas.

Hour of the Huntress by Dave Gross - the mysterious disappearance of dilettante Jenny Barnes' beloved sister triggers a frantic search through Arkham's darkest shadows.

The Dirge of Reason by Graeme Davis - for federal agent Roland Banks, investigating a bizarre incident exposes him to the supernatural horrors of Arkham.

Ire of the Void by Richard Lee Byers - the astronomer and professor Norman Withers finds himself the subject of a strange…