The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol / Edition 1

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In The Spirits of America, Burns relates that drinking was "the first national pastime," and shows how it shaped American politics and culture from the earliest colonial days. He details the transformation of alcohol from virtue to vice and back again, and how it was thought of as both scourge and medicine. He tells us how the great American thirst developed over the centuries, and how reform movements and laws (some of which, Burns says, were "comic masterpieces of the legislator's art") sprang up to combat it. Burns brings back to life such vivid characters as Carry Nation and other crusaders against drink and informs us that, in the final analysis. Prohibition, the culmination of the reformers quest, had as much to do with politics and economics and geography as it did with spirituous beverage.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The host of Fox News Channel's Fox News Watch, Burns (The Joy of Books; Broadcast Blues) presents an enjoyable and informative examination of the role of alcoholic beverages in American society. "Thousands of years ago, before Christ or Buddha or Muhammad, before the Roman Empire rose or the Colossus of Rhodes fell, people in Asia Minor were drinking beer." After a brief tour of alcohol in history, Burns sets out to detail the role that intoxicating beverages have played in the development of American history. From Colonial America's huge consumption of alcohol (George Washington and James Madison both lost elections early in their careers by failing to provide enough free liquor to voters) to a detailed look at the temperance movement (figures like the "Queen of Hachetation," Carry A. Nation, and other colorful teetotalers), the botched experiment of Prohibition, and alcohol in modern America, Burns provides plenty of information in a straightforward, easy-to-read manner. Unlike Griffith Edwards's Alcohol: The World's Favorite Drug, this book just examines alcohol in history; no mention is made of the medical or psychological effects of America's love-hate affair with alcohol. While not scholarly in tone, Burns's book will be useful for undergraduate academic libraries and may find an audience in public libraries as well.-Mark Bay, Cumberland Coll. Lib., Williamsburg, KY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592132690
  • Publisher: Temple University Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/2004
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Burns
Eric Burns
Eric Burns is the host of Fox News Channel's "Fox News Watch."A former NBC News correspondent, Burns was named one of thebest writers in the history of broadcast journalism by theWashington Journalism Review. He is also an Emmy winner formedia criticism. He is the author of four previous books; his TheSpirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol, was named one of thebest academic press volumes of 2003 by the American LibraryAssociation.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Spirits of the World 1
1 The First National Pastime 7
2 The General and the Doctor 47
3 The Father of Prohibition and Other Kinfolk 61
4 The Crusaders and Their Crusades 97
5 The Importance of Being Frank 111
6 Hatchetation 127
7 The Wheeler-Dealer and His Men 147
8 The Blues and How They Played 187
9 Executive Softness 227
10 The Hummingbird Beats the Odds 257
Epilogue: Strange Bedfellows 287
Acknowledgments 301
Notes 303
Select Bibliography 321
Index 327
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