Readers won’t look at temperance the same way once they take Schrad’s inventive and persuasive thesis into account.

SMASHING THE LIQUOR MACHINE

A GLOBAL HISTORY OF PROHIBITION

A wide-ranging, thoroughly revisionist history of the effort to ban alcohol from the public sphere across the globe.

“Both in the United States and around the world,” writes Villanova political science professor Schrad, “the true target of prohibitionism—the liquor traffic—was overwhelmingly the purview of powerful, white, self-identified Christians.” These purveyors of liquor found opponents in men and women who viewed the matter differently: Enslaving people to the addiction of alcohol helped the ruling class maintain control, subjugated colonial and marginalized peoples, and otherwise served the interests of both the wealthy minority and the state. Proclaimed Carrie Nation, tellingly, as she smashed the mirrors and glassware in saloon after saloon, “You wouldn’t give me the vote, so I had to use a rock!” Yet, as Schrad observes, Nation wasn’t above a glass of beer, even as a certain prohibitionist named V.I. Lenin, who denounced the imperial monopoly on liquor as the prop of a feeble and failing state, liked to quaff a brew himself from time to time. The author clearly and engagingly shows how the enemy wasn’t alcohol as such, but instead “the exploitative selling of addictive substances.” Activists, he writes, argued that propping up “moneyed elites upon the misery and addiction of society was no longer appropriate.” In this comprehensive, wholly convincing study, Schrad examines a number of famous prohibitionists, including Tolstoy, Gandhi, William Jennings Bryan, and even Theodore Roosevelt, the last of whom tempered his temperance leanings with the view that prohibition should be a local rather than federal affair. The author also links the prohibition movement to abolitionism, civil rights activism, anti-colonialism, and feminism, and he attributes the view of that movement as a collection of party poopers to our changing views of liberty, which have devolved to a kind of me-first, you-can’t-tell-me-what-to-do ethic as opposed to the notion of entire peoples living without chains.

Readers won’t look at temperance the same way once they take Schrad’s inventive and persuasive thesis into account.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-19-084157-7

Page Count: 736

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Harari delivers yet another tour de force.

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21 LESSONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

A highly instructive exploration of “current affairs and…the immediate future of human societies.”

Having produced an international bestseller about human origins (Sapiens, 2015, etc.) and avoided the sophomore jinx writing about our destiny (Homo Deus, 2017), Harari (History/Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem) proves that he has not lost his touch, casting a brilliantly insightful eye on today’s myriad crises, from Trump to terrorism, Brexit to big data. As the author emphasizes, “humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or equations, and the simpler the story, the better. Every person, group, and nation has its own tales and myths.” Three grand stories once predicted the future. World War II eliminated the fascist story but stimulated communism for a few decades until its collapse. The liberal story—think democracy, free markets, and globalism—reigned supreme for a decade until the 20th-century nasties—dictators, populists, and nationalists—came back in style. They promote jingoism over international cooperation, vilify the opposition, demonize immigrants and rival nations, and then win elections. “A bit like the Soviet elites in the 1980s,” writes Harari, “liberals don’t understand how history deviates from its preordained course, and they lack an alternative prism through which to interpret reality.” The author certainly understands, and in 21 painfully astute essays, he delivers his take on where our increasingly “post-truth” world is headed. Human ingenuity, which enables us to control the outside world, may soon re-engineer our insides, extend life, and guide our thoughts. Science-fiction movies get the future wrong, if only because they have happy endings. Most readers will find Harari’s narrative deliciously reasonable, including his explanation of the stories (not actually true but rational) of those who elect dictators, populists, and nationalists. His remedies for wildly disruptive technology (biotech, infotech) and its consequences (climate change, mass unemployment) ring true, provided nations act with more good sense than they have shown throughout history.

Harari delivers yet another tour de force.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-51217-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A rousing, suspenseful adventure tale.

MADHOUSE AT THE END OF THE EARTH

THE BELGICA'S JOURNEY INTO THE DARK ANTARCTIC NIGHT

A harrowing expedition to Antarctica, recounted by Departures senior features editor Sancton, who has reported from every continent on the planet.

On Aug. 16, 1897, the steam whaler Belgica set off from Belgium with young  Adrien de Gerlache as commandant. Thus begins Sancton’s riveting history of exploration, ingenuity, and survival. The commandant’s inexperienced, often unruly crew, half non-Belgian, included scientists, a rookie engineer, and first mate Roald Amundsen, who would later become a celebrated polar explorer. After loading a half ton of explosive tonite, the ship set sail with 23 crew members and two cats. In Rio de Janeiro, they were joined by Dr. Frederick Cook, a young, shameless huckster who had accompanied Robert Peary as a surgeon and ethnologist on an expedition to northern Greenland. In Punta Arenas, four seamen were removed for insubordination, and rats snuck onboard. In Tierra del Fuego, the ship ran aground for a while. Sancton evokes a calm anxiety as he chronicles the ship’s journey south. On Jan. 19, 1898, near the South Shetland Islands, the crew spotted the first icebergs. Rough waves swept someone overboard. Days later, they saw Antarctica in the distance. Glory was “finally within reach.” The author describes the discovery and naming of new lands and the work of the scientists gathering specimens. The ship continued through a perilous, ice-littered sea, as the commandant was anxious to reach a record-setting latitude. On March 6, the Belgica became icebound. The crew did everything they could to prepare for a dark, below-freezing winter, but they were wracked with despair, suffering headaches, insomnia, dizziness, and later, madness—all vividly capture by Sancton. The sun returned on July 22, and by March 1899, they were able to escape the ice. With a cast of intriguing characters and drama galore, this history reads like fiction and will thrill fans of Endurance and In the Kingdom of Ice.

A rousing, suspenseful adventure tale.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984824-33-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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