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Prohibition is a big headache for some and a big payday for others the fearless entrepreneurs with little respect for the law of the land With 125000 worth of Kentucky's finest homemade whiskey in his possession big hell raising Son Martin counts himself among the latter Son knows having this much illegal hooch makes him a very tasty target but nobody's going to steal it from him Ware may be coming to his backyard but Son's not worried Because when it comes to fighting shooting and keeping one step ahead of the Big Boys he's than good—he's bad and dangerous and deadly


10 thoughts on “The Moonshine War

  1. says:

    Bootlegger Son Martin has 150 barrels of whiskey his dad made stashed away somewhere and his old war buddy Frank Long now a crooked prohibition agent has his sights set on them Will Son cave in under the pressure and hand over the whiskey or will he put Long and his cronies into the ground?Reading an El Leonard book is like bullshitting with an old friend on their front porch In this case it would be whiskey we'd be drinking instead of a couple frosty beers Rural Kentucky in the 1930's is far from El Leonard's usual haunts but after watching several seasons of Justified I figured he could handle it I was rightThe Moonshine War plays out like a lot of El Leonard books The promise of violence keeps building until the glorious shitstorm at the end Frank Long trying to strongarm Son Martin out of his valuable whiskey is of the same It went a little differently than I thought it would near the end which is always a plus for me The country dialog is very well done and drives the plot forward Like in most Leonard books Son Martin is just a little slicker than Frank Long and the others Son reminds me of Raylan Givens a bit of Raylan was running moonshine instead of being a US Marshall He's a conflicted character his young wife dying from the flu while he was in the army leaving him somewhat directionless He's got a bit of that Givens inner rage going as well When his neighbors started turning on him when he wouldn't roll over for Long and the others I knew the violence was coming The Moonshine War actually feels like a western than anything elseAny gripes? Not a one besides wanting to read about Son Martin 35 stars


  2. says:

    My review of this one and some thoughts about El Leonard now up at Shelf Inflicted


  3. says:

    People did crazy things where whiskey was concerned It being against the law to drink wasn't going to stop anybody They'd fight and shoot each other and go to prison and die for itI suffer from ELADS El Leonard Attention Deficit Syndrome His books grab me at the get go then leave me drifting away somewhere in the middle His fault or mine? I don't know but this one was different I was gripped tightly in a good way the whole way through this thrilling read Like his father before him Son Martin makes shine The town's sheriff has a taste for the stuff so things work out for everybody until Son's old army buddy shows up He's not exactly there on a social call He's now a Prohibition agent What follows is a clash of wills that leads uickly to an all out war The book is well paced with plenty of unsavory characters doing lots of unsanitary things It also includes this little speech by the sheriff that I just love People around here have built their stills and drunk whiskey for than a hundred years They believe if a man plows the ground and sows it and raised corn it's not the place of another man to tell him he can eat it but he can't drink it That's what we think of your Prohibition lawAll right It's The Man telling off The Other Man Have I been cured of my ELADS? Don't know but I'm willing to give it another shot


  4. says:

    #2016 usa geography challenge KENTUCKY35 stars Well now I've finally read an El Leonard book I've been wanting to do that since watching the movie Get Shorty This suspense story is a fun uick read set in the days of Prohibition in the hills of Kentucky where nearly every farmer has a still Son Martin has inherited 150 barrels of the best aged whiskey that his father made while Son was in the army These are hidden on his property probably in one of the old coal mining shafts and are now worth a fortune Unfortunately Son told a friend in the army about them while drunk and now that old buddy works for the United States Federal Government as a Prohibition agent and wants Son to turn in the whiskey And so the war beginsThe most interesting part of this story was the moral dilemma Son Martin faced to do what was bestfor him or for his neighbors


  5. says:

    One of Leonard's lesser known novels The Moonshine War is nevertheless Grade A Leonard well worth seeking out Written in 1969 one could say it was written at a time when Leonard was still a wonderful secret and not yet a trendy discovery for People Magazine What makes The Moonshine War a bit different than some of Leonard's crime novels is that it is set in the not too distant past 1931 So to some extent it is a historical novel The setting is eastern Kentucky True Leonard skates pretty lightly over the regional specifics dialect land descriptions etc the kind of things that make Faulkner or Cormac McCarthy so authentic in a literary sense But Leonard does throw enough in to make it thriller believable Authentic details regarding the making of moonshine historical nods such as the Spanish flu WW 1 and the kind of overalls men wore for the most part root the reader well enough The characters are as solid as any Leonard has created Son Martin the novel's hero is your typical Leonard tough guy uiet operating on the edge of things something of an outlaw himself The bad guys are what you would expect Vicious erratic and often kind of stupid Of particular note however is Dr Taulbee a murderous bootlegger who is smarter than your average Leonard criminal and a difficult opponent for Son Martin But he has a weak spot Miley a beautiful and amoral prostitute who's along for the ride though she's always looking for a reliable man Son with his internal code of honor is closer to fitting that description than the good doctor and Miley who recognized this is in her own way a admirable character than Mrs Lyons Son's long running love interest from town The plot in The Moonshine War is pretty simple bootleggers trying to steal Son's hidden whiskey and Son's reluctance to let that happen There are echoes of High Noon as Son's friends and neighbors abandon him to the bootleggers One uestions whether mountain folks would abandon one of their own to an assault from outsiders but Leonard seems to anticipate this when he has a neighbor of Son's tell him that the difference in their predicament is that Son has no family being threatened In essence to what extent Son cares for his neighbors is thus returned in kind which makes the ending appropriate and well done Leonard's endings can sometimes be disappointing I have remarked on this myself 52 Pickup But my complaint had to do with the fireworks leading up to the end of that novel If you look at the range of Leonard's work you see an author who likes the open ended ending It is a deliberate artistic choice by Leonard At his best for example Valdez is Coming City Primeval he leaves the reader with a vivid even mythic tableau that invites the reader in Leonard loves his High Noon moments and will often freeze frame it in novel after novel like a photograph of opponents suared away on Main Street guns drawn with the sun beating down The Moonshine War to my mind sits up there with the best of Leonard


  6. says:

    Well this just came out of nowhere to be all kinds of good and then some Between this and you know what I hereby petition El Leonard to write about nothing but Kentucky from now on First read June 2011 September 2012I wanted to see if this was still my favorite and yes yes it is


  7. says:

    Bumped it up to 5 starsAction packed from start to finishComplicated buddy action movie for the literateBy this point El's relying on his Westerns style of allowing dialogue to push along the narrativeNot Dutch Leonard's best work but way up there and a personal favoriteWorth even the casual fan's time A must for El Leonard die hards Bud's dad at the table across from Mr Baylor the sheriff said Now wait a minute before you say too muchMr Blackwell had once been as smart mouthed and sure of himself as Bud; he was an older smaller version now balding and wearing a Teddy Roosevelt mustache to make up for his bare expanse of forehead Frank Long had a gun on Bud when he hit himIs that right? Mr Baylor said Well if you were there then you saw your little sonny boy pull a bone handle knife before he got his ears beat offWho told you that?Your other boy Raymond Now if you're through I'm going to tell you how things areThey aren't going to sneak up on us Bud Blackwell said You wait and see when they try it on usEvery once in a while Mr Baylor remembered his blood pressure and his seventy three year old heart and would make himself breathe slowly with his mouth closed To fall dead while beating Bud Blackwell with a pick handle wouldn't be too bad; but to go out screaming at him and slobbering and popping all the veins in his face would leave the memory of a mess they had to clean up before they put him in a boxMr Baylor said to Bud What happens if you shoot a federal Prohibition officer?They bury the son of a bitch Bud grinned If'n they can find himMr Baylor had breathed slowly in and out enough that he was still in control a kindly and wise old man He said Bud honey that's true But you know what else happens? Whether they find him or not you got the whole United States Government after you because they know where that boy was going and who he was to see Frank Long and Son Martin served together in the Big War They're not exactly close friends Son's sitting on a hundred and fifty barrels of primo corn whiskey that's been aging for at least eight years back home in Marletta KentuckyIt's worth than 150 thousand dollars in Prohibition era moneyEveryone wants to know where Son's late father's whiskey horde is hidden but Son's not a guy given to casual conversationExcept for just that one time back in the war getting drunk with his then good buddy Frank Long Son was drunk and let slip the secret of the magic horde Since then Son's sworn a vow of silence akin to Frank Mansfield in Charles Willeford's CockfighterFrank Long wants that whiskey but makes a massive miscalculation and engages the services of a Dr Taulbee bootlegger from Louisville with connections to all the big bad wooly boys from big cities as far away as CincinnatiEverything goes to bloody hell Highest Recommendation


  8. says:

    If this book is anything it is certainly entertaining and reading for the pure enjoyment of a story is something that every reader should do from time to time While I seem to be obsessed with searching out that next morsel of wisdom or insight from my next book I also need to remember that I would not be the book geek that I am today if it were not for John D MacDonald’s Travis McGee series and the enjoyment that I drew from those mystery novels But there is here for readers that are indeed looking for that next morsel of wisdom or insight Our country is a diverse place that is comprised of many geographical locations and each of these regions has its own distinct culture In visiting these places we may be amazed by the food but eating green chili in New Mexico is only a clue to the deeper feelings and mannerisms of those that actually live there The same must be true for the South The Moonshine War illustrates aspects of Southern culture For those that view the South from afar like me the story highlights an approach to life that finds enjoyment in the smallest of things Things like family neighbors serenity and moonshine take precedence over things like Facebook ‘those people next door’ happy hour and Chivas Regal Scotch It’s the depiction of this way of life that makes me wonder if of life can be enjoyed in the absence of everything else that is desired by other cultures in other regions and contemplation is the mark of a good story


  9. says:

    Before I finally came to realization that I am not an audiobook person I tried to listen to this via Audiblecom but I didn't get far The story was engaging but I just don't have the attentiveness to listen to books on tape I am horrible at multitasking and my commute to work is only 5 8 minutes so it is not feasible to listen while driving So I abandoned the audio and told myself that I would continue reading it in proper book form The only problem was that it took me six months to get around to checking it out from the library This is a riveting tale of a battle of wits over 150 barrels of whiskey hidden in the Kentucky hills during Prohibition in 1931 The dialogue and characterizations were excellent I kept guessing who would win the war up til the last couple paragraphs with the great suspenseful ending Son Martin is not one to mess with


  10. says:

    A very peculiar semi fictional world of masculine struggle for relevance and self esteem is exposed by the genius author El Leonard in his usual grand style The backdrop for this peacock display of virility in this early book by Leonard consists of extreme 1931 Tennessee poverty isolation lack of oversight and American male machismo In Spain machismo is defined by bullfighting in Russia and China they have hierarchical domination but in America it's the loner Being female I recognize the displaying of tail feathers that is as much about the thumping of the male's chest as displaying sexual prowess Anyone familiar with America's ways knows that the movie character of Clint Eastwood is THE male icon for our men with his display of large pistols and silent judgement Nobody captures this image in clever ways than El Leonard and no one can skewer it with style of smirking intellectualism while helplessly admiring it at the same time as Leonard I also find myself helplessly full of admiration while a sneer is on my lipsSon Martin is living on a forested mountain farm hollowed by mine shafts passed down to him by his father The art and living of making moonshine hard liuor has also been passed down along with a secret cache of superb whiskey hidden for 8 years and reputed to be worth 150000 in this Prohibition time If it exists Son has never sold it but envious rumors abound in this small community of poor moonshiners spread out among the trees A different kind of prodigal son returns in the form of a Federal Prohibition agent Frank Long He is eager to make a name for himself in Washington DC by recovering this hidden whiskey and he doesn't care how he does it short of murder When threats only get him a silent stare he decides to hire some of the thugs he has arrested in his career particularly a sociopathic dentist who had served time for raping his unconscious female patients under ether to harass all of the moonshiners to force a showdown Long thinks if he burns down everybody else's stills the entire community will put pressure on Martin to give up the whiskey It works as far as organizing the neighbors to talk to Son about giving the cache up but Son Martin politely says noThis is a big mistake For who I'm not going to say politely staring polishing my gun