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Synopsis

In 1874, the newly formed North West Mounted Police marched west to shut down unscrupulous liquor traders who had devastated the lives of many First Nations people. The Mounties' famous trek heralded over 50 years of "whisky wars" in the Canadian West. Author Rich Mole traces the turbulent history of alcohol, temperance movements and prohibition between 1870 and the 1920s through the stories of those who suffered and profited from the West's insatiable thirst for liquor. Before prohibition, young James Gray was one of many Winnipeg children who endured poverty and humiliation due to an alcoholic father. Calgary newspaperman Bob Edwards, known for his witty aphorisms, publicly supported prohibition while waging his own battle with the bottle. Harry Bronfman, "King of the Boozoriums," built a business empire shipping mail-order liquor on both sides of the Canada-US border. Rum-runner "Emperor" Emilio Picariello and his housekeeper, Florence Lassandro, faced the gallows after an Alberta police constable was shot and killed in front of his own children. Mole's vivid, real-life stories chronicle a tumultuous and fascinating era.

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