Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol

Iain Gately, Author . Gotham $30 (546p) ISBN 978-1-592-40303-5

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)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 07/01/2008
Open Ebook - 560 pages - 978-1-4362-0131-5
Paperback - 546 pages - 978-1-59240-464-3
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 560 pages - 978-1-4362-0132-2
Open Ebook - 560 pages - 978-1-4406-3126-9
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