In "We Are What We Drink: The Temperance Battle in Minnesota," Sabine Meyer, a Professor of American Studies at the University of Osnabrück, Germany, offers an indispensable history to help us understand the longest socio-legal reform movement in America.
While the story of prohibition is typically told about lobbyist organizations such as the Anti-Saloon League and the Women's Christian Temperance Union, about key figures such as Frances Willard, and about Congress on a national level, perhaps the most important part of that history was played out at the local and state level. That was done by people who brought together identities of gender, ethnicity, and religion as well as class to fight for or against temperance.
This is a book for social historians, to be sure. It is also a book for those who want to trace the development of legal/legislative history as proponents of temperance fight a gradualist war over 70 years to regulate into strangulation the production, distribution, and consumption of liquor.
Thomas L. Olson, the reviewer, died on September 29. 2020, at age 78. He contributed "Blockbusters: Minnesota's Movie Men Slug it out with Studio Moguls, 1938-1948" and several book reviews to this website.