Drinking in America: Our Secret History

Drinking in America: Our Secret History

by Susan Cheever


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In Drinking in America, bestselling author Susan Cheever chronicles our national love affair with liquor, taking a long, thoughtful look at the way alcohol has changed our nation's history. This is the often-overlooked story of how alcohol has shaped American events and the American character from the seventeenth to the twentieth century.

Seen through the lens of alcoholism, American history takes on a vibrancy and a tragedy missing from many earlier accounts. From the drunkenness of the Pilgrims to Prohibition hijinks, drinking has always been a cherished American custom: a way to celebrate and a way to grieve and a way to take the edge off. At many pivotal points in our history-the illegal Mayflower landing at Cape Cod, the enslavement of African Americans, the McCarthy witch hunts, and the Kennedy assassination, to name only a few-alcohol has acted as a catalyst.

Some nations drink more than we do, some drink less, but no other nation has been the drunkest in the world as America was in the 1830s only to outlaw drinking entirely a hundred years later. Both a lively history and an unflinching cultural investigation, Drinking in America unveils the volatile ambivalence within one nation's tumultuous affair with alcohol.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455513857
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 10/11/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 662,953
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Susan Cheever is the author of the biographies E.E. Cummings, American Bloomsbury, and My Name Is Bill, as well as five novels and four memoirs. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Newsday, among other magazines and anthologies. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow, has been nominated for a National Book Circle Award, and won the Boston Globe Winship medal. She attended Brown University and has taught at many places, including Yale, Brown, Columbia, the New School, and Bennington College.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Chapter 1 The Mayflower: A Good Creature of God 10

Chapter 2 The American Revolution, the Taverns of the New World 28

Chapter 3 Paul Revere: "The British Are Coming!" 46

Chapter 4 Alexander Hamilton and the Whiskey Rebellion, John and Abigail Adams's Sons and Grandsons 65

Chapter 5 Johnny Appleseed, the American Dionysus 88

Chapter 6 The Civil War 107

Chapter 7 The Great American West 125

Chapter 8 The End of the Nineteenth Century and the New Temperance Crusaders 137

Chapter 9 Prohibition 141

Chapter 10 The Writer's Vice 158

Chapter 11 Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Cold War 171

Chapter 12 A Few Seconds 182

Chapter 13 President Richard Nixon 1968-1973: "Our Drunken Friend" 196

Chapter 14 Recovery 208

Conclusion 216

Notes 223

Bibliography 237

Index 249

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