Prohibition (miniseries)

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PBS Prohibition Miniseries logo.jpg
Written byGeoffrey C. Ward
Directed byKen Burns
Lynn Novick
Narrated byPeter Coyote
ComposerWynton Marsalis
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes3
ProducersSarah Botstein
Lynn Novick
Ken Burns
CinematographyBuddy Squires
Allen Moore
Stephen McCarthy
EditorsTricia Reidy
Erik Ewers
Ryan Gifford
Running time5 1/2 hours
Production companiesFlorentine Films
Prohibition Film Project
National Endowment for the Humanities
Original releaseOctober 2 (2011-10-02) –
October 4, 2011 (2011-10-04)
External links

Prohibition is a 2011 American television documentary miniseries directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick with narration by Peter Coyote. The series originally aired on PBS between October 2, 2011 and October 4, 2011.[1] It was funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. It draws heavily from the 2010 book Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent.[2]


Prohibition describes how the consumption and effect of alcoholic beverages in the United States were connected to many different cultural forces including immigration, women's suffrage, and the income tax. Eventually the Temperance movement led to the passing of Prohibition, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Widespread defiance of the law, uneven and unpopular enforcement, and violent crime associated with the illegal trade in alcohol caused increasing dissatisfaction with the amendment, eventually leading to its repeal 13 years later.


  1. "A Nation of Drunkards" (1 hr 34 min) describes how immigration, alcoholism, women's suffrage and the temperance movements led up to the passing of the 18th Amendment, Prohibition.
  2. "A Nation of Scofflaws" (1 hr 50 min) addresses how the enforcement of Prohibition was inconsistent and caused unintended consequences, including making criminals of a large portion of the population.
  3. "A Nation of Hypocrites" (1 hr 45 min) follows the gradual swing towards repeal of Prohibition as the Great Depression focuses attention on other priorities.[3]


Voice actors[edit]

Interviewed consultants[edit]

Critical response[edit]

  • "You can hear history talking directly to the Americans of 2011 all through 'Prohibition,' an absorbing five-and-a-half-hour documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick ... Especially now, the story of America's disastrous experiment with banning alcoholic beverages seems made for Santayana's phrase about learning from the past or being condemned to repeat it." – Neil Genzlinger, New York Times[4]
  • "Burns has the similar gift of that rare history professor who can captivate even the most reluctant student by bringing the material to life." – Hank Stuever, Washington Post[5]
  • "Prohibition provides a very fine analytic survey of the noble experiment." – Troy Patterson, Slate[6]
  • "Another piece of wonder by Ken Burns." – Tim Goodman, Hollywood Reporter[7]


  1. ^ List of episodes on IMDb
  2. ^ "A long and sober look at Prohibition history", Los Angeles Times, October 1, 2011
  3. ^ "Prohibition: Episode Guide". PBS.
  4. ^ "Bellying Up to the Time When America Went Dry", Neil Genzlinger, New York Times, September 30, 2011
  5. ^ "Ken Burns takes a sip of 'Prohibition'", Hank Stuever, Washington Post, September 29, 2011
  6. ^ "Prohibition: A fascinating Ken Burns series about the noble experiment", Troy Patterson, Slate, September 30, 2011
  7. ^ Goodman, Tim (August 10, 2011). "10 Post TCA Broadcast Buzz Shows". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019-12-08.

External links[edit]