This book is one of my favorite books on Prohibition. Henry Lee was a feature writer for the New York Daily News when he wrote this book in 1963. He wrote this book from a combination of research and personal experience. Lee has a great sense of humor and this makes the book a very entertaining and, informative read. Lee leaves no doubt that he was not a fan of Prohibition. Even so he has done an excellent job explaining the prohibitionist and their arguments for the “Great Experiment”.  The book is out of print, but it can still be found at the Oscar Getz Museum of American Whiskey and on line. It is well worth the time to track down a copy to add to your library.

How Dry We Were: Prohibition Revisited, by Henry Lee. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1963. Contents, Index, Illustrations, Prohibition Timeline, pp. 244. 

The author starts with a couple of short chapters about the growth of the prohibition movement and then gets right into the subject of the book: Prohibition. He covers just about every angle of Prohibition from smuggling whiskey in from other countries to moonshining and bootlegging to distribution through the speakeasies and blind tigers. He discusses the social problems that came about as a result of Prohibition, such as organized crime and increased intoxication. He also discusses the movement to repeal the 18th amendment.

He covers these subjects in such a way that the reader has no doubt what side he is on and it is a wet side. Even so he does a fairly good job of presenting both sides of the story. His writing is entertaining and interesting. His chapter titles include “Daddy, That Man’s at the Door”, “They Come by Sea” and “The Good Guys Are Almost as Bad” and reflect some of the humor he puts into the book. The photographs are interesting and captioned and once again reflect the author’s sense of humor.

The one fault that can be found with the book is a lack of footnotes or a Bibliography. He uses arguments that can be found in other books on the subject but he fails to credit these other books in any way.

This is a good book to have in a bourbon library because Prohibition does play an important role in the history of American Whiskey. The fact this is a good readable book moves it to the top of the list for books on Prohibition.