Alcoholism in America: From Reconstruction to Prohibition / Edition 1

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Overview

Despite the lack of medical consensus regarding alcoholism as a disease, many people readily accept the concept of addiction as a clinical as well as a social disorder. An alcoholic is a victim of social circumstance and genetic destiny. Although one might imagine that this dual approach is a reflection of today's enlightened and sympathetic society, historian Sarah Tracy discovers that efforts to medicalize alcoholism are anything but new.

Alcoholism in America tells the story of physicians, politicians, court officials, and families struggling to address the danger of excessive alcohol consumption at the turn of the century. Beginning with the formation of the American Association for the Cure of Inebriates in 1870 and concluding with the enactment of Prohibition in 1920, this study examines the effect of the disease concept on individual drinkers and their families and friends, as well as the ongoing battle between policymakers and the professional medical community for jurisdiction over alcohol problems. Tracy captures the complexity of the political, professional, and social negotiations that have characterized the alcoholism field both yesterday and today.

Tracy weaves American medical history, social history, and the sociology of knowledge into a narrative that probes the connections among reform movements, social welfare policy, the specialization of medicine, and the social construction of disease. Her insights will engage all those interested in America's historic and current battles with addiction.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences - William L. White

Offers historical insight into the sources and solutions to alcohol-related problems... This book will find many appreciative audiences.

American Historical Review - Elaine Frantz Parsons

Meticulous and smart... An important contribution to the field of alcohol and temperance history.

Journal of the History of Medicine - Katherine A. Chavigny

This excellent volume reworks intellectual territory opened up in the 1970s and 1980s by members of the Alcohol Research Group.

Medical History - Luc Berlivet

The most interesting aspect of the book is her analysis of the complex mix of medical and moral considerations that informed the approach to alcoholism over the period.

Annals of Iowa - Rachel E. Bohlmann

Tells new and important histories of people's efforts to find a cure for themselves or others and provides examples of heartbreaking failures. Her book enriches our reading of reform in this period.

Alcohol and Alcoholism - E.B. Ritson

This is an excellent book... full of interesting case studies, anecdotes and historical insights. It is well worth reading by all of those who have an interest in the way in which we currently construe alcohol policy, and is a brimful of reminders that we are regularly in danger of reinventing the heel unless we carefully study the history of this ubiquitous and puzzling problem.

New England Journal of Medicine

Fascinating. Tracy's book tells a compelling and revelatory story.

History: Reviews of New Books

Any reader interested in the subjects of alcoholism or addiction will find it worthwhile.

Journal of American Culture

A pathbreaking argument about what medicalization meant for patients as well as doctors and, more generally, American culture.

Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases

Essential reading for any clinician with a historical bent. This valuable monograph traces the tension between moralism and science in the understanding of alcoholism.

Journal of American History

Tracy sets a new standard of sophistication in this lucid exposition of alcohol as 'a complicated cultural signifier.'

Reviews in American History

One of the signal achievements of Alcoholism in America is its thorough historicization of modern understandings of alcohol abuse.

Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Offers historical insight into the sources and solutions to alcohol-related problems... This book will find many appreciative audiences.

— William L. White

American Historical Review
Meticulous and smart... An important contribution to the field of alcohol and temperance history.

— Elaine Frantz Parsons

Journal of the History of Medicine
This excellent volume reworks intellectual territory opened up in the 1970s and 1980s by members of the Alcohol Research Group.

— Katherine A. Chavigny

Medical History
The most interesting aspect of the book is her analysis of the complex mix of medical and moral considerations that informed the approach to alcoholism over the period.

— Luc Berlivet

Annals of Iowa
Tells new and important histories of people's efforts to find a cure for themselves or others and provides examples of heartbreaking failures. Her book enriches our reading of reform in this period.

— Rachel E. Bohlmann

JAMA

[Tracy's] fine book illuminates a neglected and often misunderstood chapter in the history of alcohol and alcoholism.

Alcohol and Alcoholism
This is an excellent book... full of interesting case studies, anecdotes and historical insights. It is well worth reading by all of those who have an interest in the way in which we currently construe alcohol policy, and is a brimful of reminders that we are regularly in danger of reinventing the heel unless we carefully study the history of this ubiquitous and puzzling problem.

— E.B. Ritson

History: Reviews of New Books
Any reader interested in the subjects of alcoholism or addiction will find it worthwhile.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801886201
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 5/11/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah W. Tracy is a Reach for Excellence Associate Professor, Honors College, University of Oklahoma.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

1 Disease concept(s) of inebriety 25
2 Cultural framing of inebriety 63
3 Institutional solutions for inebriety 92
4 Public inebriate hospitals and farm colonies 122
5 The "Foxborough experiment" 147
6 Building a boozatorium 196
7 On the vice and disease of inebriety 226
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