Chasing the White Dog by Max Watman
An Amateur Outlaw's Adventures in Moonshine

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Synopsis

In Chasing the White Dog, journalist Max Watman traces the historical roots and contemporary story of hooch. He takes us to the backwoods of Appalachia and the gritty nip joints of Philadelphia, from a federal courthouse to Pocono Speedway, profiling the colorful characters who make up white whiskey's lore. Along the way, Watman chronicles his hilarious attempts to distill his own moonshine -- the essential ingredients and the many ways it can all go wrong -- from his initial ill-fated batch to his first successful jar of 'shine.

It begins in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, where drunk and armed outlaws gathered in the summer of 1794. George Washington mustered 13,000 troops to quell the rebellion, but by the time they arrived, the rebels had vanished; America's first moonshiners had packed up their stills and moved on.

From these moonshiners who protested the Whiskey Tax of 1791, to the bathtub gin runners of the 1920s, to today's booming bootleg businessmen, white lightning has played a surprisingly large role in American history. It touched the election of Thomas Jefferson, the invention of the IRS, and the origins of NASCAR. It is a story of tommy guns, hot rods, and shot houses, and the story is far from over.

Infiltrating every aspect of small-scale distilling in America, from the backyard hobbyists to the growing popularity of microdistilleries, Chasing the White Dog provides a fascinating, centuries-long history of illicit booze from an unrepentant lover of moonshine.
 

About Max Watman

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Max Watman is the author of Race Day, which was an editors’ choice in the New York Times Book Review. He was the horse racing correspondent for the New York Sun and has written for various publications on books, music, food, and drink. He lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife and son.
 
Published January 22, 2010 by Simon & Schuster. 308 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Cooking, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Chasing the White Dog

Kirkus Reviews

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While dispelling the myth of the wild-looking, straw-chewing “moonshine man”—most distillers were small farmers who turned excess yields of corn and apples into alcohol—the author finds much color in the still-ongoing battle between moonshiners and “revenuers.” He interviews moonshiners, goes on ...

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The New York Times

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Max Watman’s description of one of the liquor-distilling experts he interviews in “Chasing the White Dog” also applies to the author himself: “He hobbies hard.” In the grips of a passion for homemade spirits, Watman fumblingly assembles a rudi­mentary still, violating federal law and risking deat...

Mar 05 2010 | Read Full Review of Chasing the White Dog: An Ama...

The Wall Street Journal

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In the wake of Operation Lightning Strike, he wonders aloud if the culprits swept up in the sting had already reverted to their moonshining ways: The agents "answered, laughing, 'They're still breathing, ain't they?' " —Mr. Dean is co-author of "Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times" by Dr. R...

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The Wall Street Journal

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It was years after my first taste of moonshine that I managed to find the words to describe how it felt when the whiskey took hold.

Feb 13 2010 | Read Full Review of Chasing the White Dog: An Ama...

Bookmarks Magazine

Infiltrating every aspect of small-scale distilling in America, from the backyard hobbyists to the growing popularity of microdistilleries, Chasing the White Dog provides a fascinating, centuries-long history of illicit booze from an unrepentant lover of moonshine.

Feb 15 2010 | Read Full Review of Chasing the White Dog: An Ama...

Seattle Weekly

Watman discusses the history of distilling in America, tries to go to an illegal ghetto "Nip Joint" in Virginia, follows a high-profile court case, and interviews Colorado craft distillers Jess Graber and George Stranahan.

Mar 22 2010 | Read Full Review of Chasing the White Dog: An Ama...

David G. Schwartz

In Chasing the White Dog, Max Watman blends three spirits, so to speak: a bit of bootlegging history, going back to the Whiskey Rebellion, some reportage on the current state of moonshine (it’s a surprisingly large business), and a good helping of memoir, detailing Watman’s investigations and his...

Apr 23 2010 | Read Full Review of Chasing the White Dog: An Ama...

Serious Eats

Serious Reads: Chasing the White Dog by Max Watman

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