Cover for HALLWAS: The Bootlegger: A Story of Small-Town America

The Bootlegger

A Story of Small-Town America

A portrait of small-town America emerging from frontier status into the corruption and violence of the Jazz age

This extraordinary account of a struggling midwestern coal town profiles small-time bootlegger Kelly Wagle, whose mysterious career--and suspected involvement with two unsolved murder cases--had a profound and lasting impact on his community. In unraveling the process by which Colchester, Illinois, lost its grip on the American promise, John Hallwas reveals this remote corner of the Midwest as a true reflection of the quintessential American experience.

"Rarely have the secret undercurrents of American small-town life stood so revealed. The Bootlegger reads like a good whodunit and yet stands as objective historical reportage and analysis at its finest."--John Jakle, author of The American Small Town

"A book of compulsive readability as well as great historiographic interest. The stories of Colchester and of its petty criminal folk hero, Kelly Wagle, as Hallwas tells them, raise haunting questions about midwestern identity and American values."--James Hurt, author of Writing Illinois

"Well written and carefully crafted . . . John Hallwas's major theme, the disintegration of the community ethos in the process of modernization, makes this story fit every community in the nation."--Gerald A. Danzer, author of Public Places: Exploring Their History

John E. Hallwas is a professor of English and at the Western Illinois University in Macomb. He is the author or editor of twenty books on Illinois history and literature.

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