Allison Lawlor,
(Nimbus, 2009)

When Prohibition put a clamp down on the alcohol business in the 1920s, the Atlantic coast off the United States and Canada fairly hummed with illicit trade.

Allison Lawlor captures the flavor of that heady, lawless time in Rum-Running, a brief but thorough look at the heyday of Prohibition.

The book packs a lot of detail into a slim volume. Readers will learn about alcohol production and the various directions in which it was shipped. They'll learn about the boats adapted to smuggling or specially built for the purpose. They'll meet some of the characters who captained them and learn about the conflicts that took place along the coastline and in international waters.

Lawlor tackles her subject with enthusiasm, explaining with some glee how some rum-runners who ran afoul of the law were able to conceal their activities or otherwise beat the rap. Some encounters turned grim, and she describes those, too.

With numerous photographs and ample quoted documents and first-hand accounts of the time, Lawlor presents a slice of early 20th-century history for your education and enjoyment. Rum-Running is not a lengthy read, but it'll keep you interested.

book review by
Tom Knapp

9 July 2011

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