A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops

As someone who grew up on episodes of Cheers and lived in a colonial-era tavern and inn, I suppose I might have been somewhat predisposed to be enamored by the subject.  But if you stop to consider, I think most people are.  The gathering of community is something we all need and create.  
This is a fascinating social history of our relatively young country.  And with all we have been though as a nation, one thing that has been a constant is the bar — even when they were banned.  Not just as a place to imbibe, but a place to gather.  Revolutions and crimes alike have been planned in them.  The Salem Witch Trials just may have been started because of one. 
The Green Dragon Tavern, the cradle of the Boston Tea Party
Sismondo brings into focus the history of America’s founding, growing pains and social reforms through the lens of the community tavern.  She reminds us that a pioneer town was likely to have tavern before it had a church or courthouse.  The bar was pressed into many civic uses, but it was also the hub of the people.  It was a place to get warm, to see friends, to hear the news and to grumble about life.  
The book traces, in relatively chronological order, the evolution of the bar as meeting place from the Puritans to Colonialists, early temperance movements in the literary sphere,  political machines, speakeasies, the repeal of Prohibition, dessert cocktails and more.  
It’s quite stunning, actually, to look at ourselves as a nation, in the mirror of a backbar.

 

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Many thanks to the folks at Oxford University Press for the review copy.

America Walks into a Bar
A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops
Christine Sismondo
ISBN13: 9780199734955
ISBN10: 019973495X
Hardback, 336 pages

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