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As I catch up with the first two episodes of HBO’s new series, Boardwalk Empire, I’m constantly reminded of the book I just finished: Daniel Okrent’s Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, which was released in May of this year.

Boardwalk Empire is an HBO drama in the network’s grand tradition of crime saga wrapped around human drama. Set during the dawn of Prohibition in Atlantic City, the new series has yet to find its footing but has left the gate with a steady stride. The history in the show is accurate, at least in conjunction with Last Call, but the book is the place to go for some real juice. Okrent’s book is a terrific document full of crazy characters (some of them pop up during Boardwalk Empire) and sordid tales of industrialist citizens or politicians, looking to make a buck from the U.S. government’s lazy dismissal of liquor. Whether you enjoy Boardwalk Empire or not, I recommend you check out Last Call, for a crisp look at the dawn of “organized crime” as we know it. Brimming with detail, the book makes any TV series feel parched by comparison.

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