The Bourbon King: The Life and Crimes of George Remus, Prohibition’s Evil Genius

Bob Batchelor. Diversion, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-63576-586-1
The roaring ’20s glisten with vice and danger in this fast-paced portrait of prolific bootlegger George Remus, from biographer Batchelor (Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel). The son of German immigrants, Remus (1874–1952) quit school to support the family as a pharmacist, then became a criminal defense attorney notorious for his dramatic courtroom tactics and defense of the “elite of crime” in Chicago. In the 1920s, Remus moved to Cincinnati and, using his knowledge of the medical industry and the loophole allowing whiskey to be distributed for medicinal purposes, worked his way into a near monopoly on the Kentucky bourbon trade in the Midwest with expansions along the East Coast. He divorced one wife, married another, made vast sums of money, bribed officials in the attorney general’s office, was arrested for violations of the Volstead Act, got convicted, and served two years in prison—during which time his second wife fell in love with a high-ranking Prohibition agent, and the two of them spent and lost most of Remus’s millions. Remus shot her dead, defended himself in court, and was acquitted by reason of insanity. Batchelor’s action-packed narrative both entertains and informs with its tales of the corruption of President Warren G. Harding’s attorney general, the bootlegging trade, and the public’s oscillating views of Remus and Prohibition in general. Larger-than-life characters take the reins of this story, a rip-roaring good time for any American history buff or true-crime fan. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 07/09/2019
Release date: 09/03/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-68457-436-0
Library Binding - 500 pages - 978-1-64358-457-7
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