The Points Interview: Burton Peretti

Today’s installment of the Points Interview is the ninth of the series and, as ever, we’re grateful to find so many authors willing to discuss their work in this forum.  That’s certainly true of entry #9–Burton Peretti, talking about his book Nightclub City: Politics and Amusement in Manhattan (paperback edition, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011).  Interested readers can see the table of contents and an excerpt of the book here.

Describe your book in terms your mother (or the average mother-in-the-street) could understand. 

Manhattan nightclubs in the 1920s were places your mother wouldn’t want you to go.Cover of Burton Peretti's Nightclub City They were frightfully expensive. Prostitutes and gangsters often worked in them.  If you bought liquor in the clubs, you were breaking the law. If you were there during a Prohibition raid, you would be arrested.  Governments at the city, state, and local level tried to stop the spread of nightclubs, and then they tried to regulate them in various ways.  Do-gooder reform groups got into the act, too.  Only the Great Depression killed off most Manhattan nightclubs, though.  When the clubs revived later in the 1930s, they were tamer places.  Liquor was now legal again and carefully regulated, and clubs catered to the middle class and conventioneer clientele.  The new clubs paved the way for the mostly innocuous family entertainment found in the suburbs after World War II.

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The Libertarian Theme in Anti-AA Rhetoric

Hopping on the Ron Paul bandwagon as it pulls out for Campaign 2012, guest blogger Eoin Cannon speculates on why Libertarians don’t show more love for Alcoholics Anonymous.

Dr. Bob and Bill W.: Authors of Big Book, Haters of Big Government

In the book manuscript I’m currently revising, I look at the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous in relation to its political moment in the mid-to-late 1930s, building a case that AA belongs, in quite specific ways, to the culture of New Deal liberalism–despite the FDR-derangement-syndrome of its co-founders. In developing this idea, I have become attuned not only to ideological analyses of AA and its founding, but also to what one might call the political flavors of the popular critiques of the recovery movement. I find myself oddly fascinated with superficial contempt for AA and twelve-step culture, in part because it is so common, but moreso because it seems to spring from that hard-to-pin-down nexus of identity and sensibility that underlies more formal beliefs. That is, people who express this contempt tend to do so in the same terms that inform their political orientations. Sometimes this connection is explicit, but just as often it comes in signs of cultural identity and social attitude.

Leftish and rightish anti-AA attitudes are fairly predictable.

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