America Walks into a Bar A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops

by
Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: 2011-06-21
Publisher(s): Oxford University Press
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Summary

When George Washington bade farewell to his officers, he did so in New York's Fraunces Tavern. When Andrew Jackson planned his defense of New Orleans against the British in 1815, he met Jean Lafitte in a grog shop. And when John Wilkes Booth plotted with his accomplices to carry out a certain assassination, they gathered in Surratt Tavern. In America Walks into a Bar , Christine Sismondo recounts the rich and fascinating history of an institution often reviled, yet always central to American life. She traces the tavern from England to New England, showing how even the Puritans valued "a good Beere." With fast-paced narration and lively characters, she carries the story through the twentieth century and beyond, from repeated struggles over licensing and Sunday liquor sales, from the Whiskey Rebellion to the temperance movement, from attempts to ban "treating" to Prohibition and repeal. As the cockpit of organized crime, politics, and everyday social life, the bar has remained vital--and controversial--down to the present. In 2006, when the Hurricane Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act was passed, a rider excluded bars from applying for aid or tax breaks on the grounds that they contributed nothing to the community. Sismondo proves otherwise: the bar has contributed everything to the American story. In this heady cocktail of agile prose and telling anecdotes, Sismondo offers a resounding toast to taprooms, taverns, saloons, speakeasies, and the local hangout where everybody knows your name.

Author Biography


Christine Sismondo is a writer and lecturer in Humanities at York University in Toronto. She has written numerous articles about film, literature, drinking, and vice, as well as the book Mondo Cocktail, a narrative history of cocktails.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prologuep. xi
A Pilgrim walks into a Barp. 3
A Dissenter Walks into a Barp. 27
A Rebel walks into the Back Room of a Barp. 41
A Revolutionary Walks into a Barp. 61
A Federalist walks into a Barp. 77
Keeping Tabsp. 99
The Political Machine Invades a Barp. 119
The Crusader Walks into a Barp. 137
The Radicals take over a Barp. 151
The Machine Politician Gets behind the Barp. 175
Carry Nation Wields a Hatchet in a Barp. 193
A Woman walks into a Speakeasyp. 215
A French heel is hooked around a Bar's Brass Railp. 233
Joe McCarthy Storms into a Barp. 249
Change Strolls into the Barp. 265
Notesp. 281
Bibliographyp. 289
Indexp. 299
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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