The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981

Book Reviews

ganized the American Liberty League to fight the centralization of
government under the New Deal.
Logically, clearly, and equitably, Kyvig deals with people and
events; and he draws reasonable conclusions from fresh evidence. His
book will not satisfy those who yearn for statistical analysis, nor will it
be the last word on repeal. Much research remains to be done at state
and local levels, but Kyvig's contribution is the best work on the sub-
ject so far and a very fine addition to the literature on prohibition.
Lamar University PAUL E. ISAAC
The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition. By W. J. Rora-
baugh. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979- Pp. 302. Illus-
trations, appendices, bibliographic note, index. $14.95.)
W. J. Rorabaugh reconstructs a valuable segment of American so-
cial history, from brief consideration of colonial and European roots
through prodigiously detailed data on the manufacture and consump-
tion of alcohol in the early republic, 1790-1840. After examining the
economic and political bases for the great switch from rum to whiskey,
Rorabaugh explains the technologies of distilling unmarketable sur-
plus corn into the veritable sea of whiskey on which this nation sloshed
westward. Alcohol's destructive impact upon the aborigines is axiom-
atic in American history; but it is instructive-often astonishing-to
examine the pervasive patterns of alcohol abuse in the conquering
society, barring neither age nor sex, and the grim social consequences
which ultimately sparked temperance reforms. Thoughtful southwest-
erners will surely ponder this facet of the behavioral patterns which
Anglos brought to the famous "clash of cultures" on this borderland
frontier. Rorabaugh's cross-cultural comparisons are regrettably short
of data from Hispanic frontiers: Texan scholars could usefully fill that
Rorabaugh achieves his solid historical results in, four chapters (22u
pages)-the stuff of a meaty, well-written article or two. Perhaps under
unfortunate pressure to puff his dissertation into the obligatory book,
he then wanders through three chapters of speculative "pop" sociology
and psychology, trying to account for early alcohol abuse by projecting
backward more than a century and a half the trendiest attitudes of mid-
twentieth-century Americans. Efforts to assess sources for this regret-
table exercise in presentism are stymied for lack of any list of works
cited. Given footnotes bristling with multiple short citations of obscure


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed January 27, 2015.