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From The CriticsReviewer: Cindy L. Gilbert, MSW, LSW (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This author presents readers a concise, readable volume covering basic information about this widespread illness. In 17 rather brief chapters, he is able to provide an interesting and even amusing update on alcoholism.
Purpose: The author's effort here is toward bringing the reader up to date on the newest developments in the study and treatment of alcoholism.
Audience: He intends his work for a wide audience. Indeed this is a highly accessible book, largely due to the absence of technical language and the direct writing style. It is easy to imagine either a layperson or a clinician utilizing this book to find basic information about alcoholism.
Features: The author offers his book in four sections: Alcohol, Alcoholism, Understanding Alcoholism, and Treating Alcoholism. Each section contains 4-5 chapters on issues such as the history of alcohol, symptomology of alcoholism, hereditary influences in alcoholism, and Alcoholics Anonymous. The author devotes a chapter to women and alcohol, and while it is brief, he acknowledges the discrepancy between research done on men and that done on women, which is a refreshing change. Furthermore, he debunks some myths about alcohol as well. For example, he reports a series of commonly held beliefs about female alcoholics including that they are known to have been submissive as children and rebellious as adults. He states that if every submissive child who became a rebellious adult drank too much "the oceans could not contain enough alcohol to meet the demand." His review of the symptoms of alcoholism is especially concrete. It is written in such as a way as to make it easy for the reader to grasp the state of mind of the alcoholic, as well as the progression of symptoms. Unfortunately, while the author makes reference to numerous studies, he does not provide citations for them. Follow-up research would be difficult if one wanted to pursue a study mentioned here.
Assessment: This book is a succinct summary of what is known about alcoholism at this time. Inevitably, in a book so small, some information has almost certainly been left out. However, the readability and clarity of this volume balance any informational oversights it may contain. This is the third edition of this book, and in light of the fact that the second edition was published in 1995, a third edition was almost certainly due at this time.