Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol [NOOK Book]

Overview

A spirited look at the history of alcohol, from the dawn of civilization to the modern day

Alcohol is a fundamental part of Western culture. We have been drinking as long as we have been human, and for better or worse, alcohol has shaped our civilization. Drink investigates the history of this Jekyll and Hyde of fluids, tracing mankind's love/hate relationship with alcohol ...
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Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol

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Overview

A spirited look at the history of alcohol, from the dawn of civilization to the modern day

Alcohol is a fundamental part of Western culture. We have been drinking as long as we have been human, and for better or worse, alcohol has shaped our civilization. Drink investigates the history of this Jekyll and Hyde of fluids, tracing mankind's love/hate relationship with alcohol from ancient Egypt to the present day.

Drink further documents the contribution of alcohol to the birth and growth of the United States, taking in the War of Independence, the Pennsylvania Whiskey revolt, the slave trade, and the failed experiment of national Prohibition. Finally, it provides a history of the world's most famous drinks-and the world's most famous drinkers. Packed with trivia and colorful characters, Drink amounts to an intoxicating history of the world.


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Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Yardley
Iain Gately, a British writer who six years ago published Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization, now turns his attention to booze, a subject, it goes without saying, of similar character but considerably larger import. Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol, is thorough, informative, briskly readable and witty. It is likely to be enjoyed more by those who take the occasional (or more than occasional) drink than by those who do not, but a central theme should be of interest to all readers: Like it or not, alcohol has been and always will be with us, an important part of human history, culture and society…In taking us from ancient Greece to MADD, Gately doesn't miss a beat, at least none that I can identify…it's all here, authoritatively and often amusingly recounted.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

With the same ambitious sweep and needle-in-history's-haystack approach of his previous tome on tobacco, Gately takes on all things alcohol. From absinthe to Jay-Z's boycott of allegedly racist Cristal, from Mayan pulque to Pilsner Urquell, he covers the history and the culture of the medicinal and mind-altering product that since at least 8000 B.C. has been part of human civilization. The book's first chapters chronicle the history of fermentation and distillation from early civilization through the late Middle Ages, before the narrative's bulk gives over to alcohol's story since the colonization of the New World. Gately touches on such minutiae as the tableware and music selections onboard the expedition ships that followed Raleigh to America and an exacting chronology of laws enacted to ban the sale of alcohol to Indians. He ecumenically includes historical information from every civilized continent; yet for a book on booze, it's at first drier than straight gin, definitely for those who like their history neat. Like a good party, however, it becomes livelier as the author works in such far-flung cultural materials as the plays of Alfred Jarry and Budweiser's '80s mascot, Spuds McKenzie. In the end, Gately ranges so wide and deep that this may become a classic reference on the subject. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The National Post (Canada)
Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol by Iain Gately (Gotham; 478 pp.; $33). British author Iain Gately calls alcohol the "equivocal liquid," and his exploration of our love-hate relationship with it is "by turns entertaining, inspiring, sobering, informative and simply fascinating," writes reviewer Janice Kennedy in the Ottawa Citizen. As he did with Tobacco, his earlier cultural history, Gately offers what amounts to nothing less than a history of human civilization. From the archeological evidence of fermented potables in northern China nearly 10,000 years ago to the notion that American rap culture has been the salvation of France's champagne and cognac industries with its taste for both pricey libations, Drink covers it all: the colour, comedy, catastrophe and controversy. Reviewer Kennedy concludes that "the book is bursting (or should that be overflowing?) with scrupulously researched facts, statistics, historical events and marvellous anecdotes, all of it just as scrupulously acknowledged in endnotes. But the wonder of it is its immense readability." Buy it.
Library Journal

For thousands of years, the world has both celebrated and cursed alcohol. In his latest breezily entertaining book, Gately, who has also written about another addictive substance in Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization, writes about both the beneficial and the detrimental effects alcohol has had on society while giving readers a concise, chronological history of alcohol throughout time and across the globe. Readers needing a basic overview of the general subject of alcohol should be satisfied with Gately's book, but researchers requiring a more detailed history about specific alcoholic beverages such as wine will need to find other books such as Thomas Pinney's A History of Wine in America or Roderick Phillips's A Short History of Wine to be more useful. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.
—John Charles

Kirkus Reviews
The history of the Western world as seen through the prism of booze, glorious booze. Gately (Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization, 2002) serves up a lavish account, lengthy but never dull, of how human civilization has prized and demonized alcohol throughout history. It's been mostly prized, he demonstrates, beginning with a discourse on how the epic poem Gilgamesh, possibly the first literary work in existence, shows intoxication and celebration as inextricably connected in Sumerian society circa 2000 BCE. Throughout ancient history, alcohol was considered a crucial component of the good life. Gately follows the role played in Greek culture by the wine-soaked deity Bacchus and the transmission of his cult to Rome. Comparatively abstemious in the republic's early years, Romans in the heyday of the empire considered the Hebrews among their more civilized subjects because they cultivated wine. In 988 CE, Prince Vladimir of Kiev chose Christianity over Islam as the faith to unite his people, changing the future of European religion because he couldn't abide the idea of not drinking. (Despite some token entries on Asia and the Middle East, this is a Western history.) Europe in the Dark Ages appears to have been utterly sozzled, with adults and children drinking ale for breakfast and throughout the day. It was only the introduction of tea and coffee in the 17th century that gave Europeans something better to drink than the admittedly foul water, though England's 18th-century gin craze still caused enough societal damage to bear resemblance to America's crack epidemic. Gately plays it straight throughout, with occasional witty asides such as the one on whyabsinthe never took off in London: "Why flirt with the occult when one already lived in Stygian gloom?" He considers modern temperance advocates, from Prohibitionists to today's health zealots, as being not just wrong, but spoilsports. In this lively book, the latter is the more damning charge. A heady cocktail. Agent: Jim Rutman/Sterling Lord Literistic
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440631269
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/3/2008
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 410,553
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Iain Gately is the author of Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization. Raise in Hong Kong, he studied law at Cambridge University and worked in the financial markets of London, where he currently lives.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction ix

1 The Grain and the Grape 1

2 Bacchanal 11

3 In Vino Veritas 28

4 Wine, Blood, Salvation 41

5 Barbarians 50

6 Islam 65

7 Brews for Breakfast 76

8 A New World of Drinking 91

9 Watkin's Ale 105

10 Pilgrims 116

11 Restoration 131

12 Rum 142

13 Gin Fever 159

14 Progress 175

15 Revolution 187

16 Warra Warra 200

17 Whiskey with an e 215

18 Romantic Drinking 237

19 Apostles of Cold Water 253

20 West 268

21 The King of San Francisco 281

22 Good Taste 293

23 Emancipation 308

24 Imperial Preference 322

25 La Fée Verte 333

26 Hatchetation 344

27 In the Chalk Trenches of Champagne 359

28 Amphibians 369

29 Lost 385

30 Crime and Punishment 400

31 The Bottle 412

32 Reconstruction 423

33 Flashbacks 433

34 Westernization 443

35 Messages 453

36 Singletons, Wine Lakes, and the Moscow Express 467

37 Fiat Lux 482

Notes 499

Index 529

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2013

    Jess

    Here.

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    Posted July 28, 2013

    London

    I hate people sometimes. Especially stupid ones. T.T I can only take so much of idiotic freak a day.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2012

    Excellent reading

    An excellent book filled with interesting facts and explanations. Especially good for a history buff.

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    Posted January 18, 2010

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