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Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit Hardcover – April 1, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062241397
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062241399
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 5.7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“[A] raucously entertaining history. ... Drink deeply from Huckelbridge’s free-flowing stories, and you’ll soon be besotted with the honeyed history of bourbon.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A mirthful, erudite appreciation of bourbon and its striking history. …. [An] entertaining tour d’horizon of bourbon’s birth and long, healthy life. … Huckelbridge knows his bourbon. … A snappy history of the popular spirit’s rise and continued ascent.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“A wonderfully entertaining look at American history as seen through the lens of Kentucky’s famous brown water. A must read.” (BILL SAMUELS, JR., President Emeritus of Maker's Mark Distillery and 4th generation Kentucky bourbon maker)

“Made from New World corn and Old World techniques, Bourbon is the American Spirit. Dane Hucklebridge takes readers on an intoxicating romp through the history of bourbon from its humble colonial origins to its craft-driven current revival.” (EDWARD J. LARSON, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History)

“A witty and informative account of America’s much-loved national beverage. Dane Huckelbridge is the sage of sour-mash.” (JOHN BAXTER, author of The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France and The Most Beautiful Walk in the World)

“Pour three fingers, crack open Dane Huckelbridge’s Bourbon, and prepare to be taken along on a strange tale of moonshiners, gun-slingers, hair-metal bands, and Brooklyn hipsters. The results: smooth.” (PAGAN KENNEDY, New York Times Magazine columnist)

“Refreshingly entertaining. ... Tells our nation’s entire tale with a big splash of Kentucky’s finest. You’ll learn a f*ckload about the Pilgrims, the Founding Fathers, the Civil War, the Wild West and beyond, and you’ll actually enjoy it.” (MTV.com)

“Informative. ... What part hasn’t bourbon played in American history? And what does that corn-based spirit say about this country’s character? Huckelbridge has done a well-researched but laid-back job answering. (Memphis Flyer)

“Sure, you might have enjoyed a sip of bourbon before. Possibly on Bourbon Street. While eating a bourbon-glazed pork chop and wearing bourbon-scented aftershave. But until you read this 288-page historical treatise on the amber nectar, you’ll never know the whole story.” (UrbanDaddy)

“An engrossing song to America through an alcoholic beverage.” (Washington Post)

“Let’s raise a glass to Dan Huckelbridge for putting together the definitive history of bourbon, the penultimate American whiskey.” (Sacramento Bee)

Bourbon would be a delightful companion to take along on a trip to... the great Kentucky distilleries.” (Cleveland.com)

“Although Bourbon is most certainly a history book, you won’t even realize [it]. That’s because Dane Huckelbridge brings bourbon to life with the sort of witty, character-rich zeal AMC writers might employ if they took over the History Channel.” (Toledo Blade)

From the Back Cover

A rollicking biography of bourbon whiskey that doubles as a rich and surprising history of America itself

Few products are so completely or intimately steeped in the American story as bourbon whiskey. As Dane Huckelbridge's masterfully crafted history reveals, the iconic amber spirit is the American experience, distilled, aged, and sealed in a bottle.

Bourbon's essential ingredient, corn, is indigenous to the Americas and had been fermented by its native peoples for centuries. At Jamestown, the earliest colonists applied their old-world distilling know-how to produce the first corn-based whiskey. After winning the American Revolution, George Washington turned his attention to establishing one of the new nation's largest distilling operations at his estate, Mount Vernon, making him a Founding Father of both the United States and American whiskey. Whiskey-swilling Scots-Irish immigrants had perfected bourbon's recipe in the rugged oak forests of the Appalachian frontier by the early nineteenth century. Kentucky-born Abe Lincoln received a liquor license in 1833 before turning his attention to politics; during the Civil War, soldiers on both sides liberally imbibed before, during, and after battle. Then, in cowboy saloons and gambling halls of the late-nineteenth century, bourbon put the wild in Wild West.

During the early twentieth century, Prohibition fa-mously sought to curtail America's drinking but instead expanded alcohol's reach as speakeasies run by gangsters and bootleggers welcomed women and made drinking more fashionable than ever. Bourbon-consumption reached record heights—both at home and abroad—as America came of age as a superpower after World War II and labels like Jack Daniel's and Jim Beam emerged as global brands on par with Coca-Cola. Just as bourbon fueled the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, and Ernest Hemingway during the first half of the twentieth century, the 1960s and beyond saw rock-and-roll bands and country stars knocking back bottles of Old Grand-Dad and reclaiming bourbon's unruly reputation. Today the story has come full circle with a renewed appreciation of craft-distilled whiskey produced in small batches, much as it was 150 years ago.

Bourbon has been at turns rebellious and traditional, liberating and destructive, regional and global; to know it is to understand the American story. Crack open Bourbon, and come along for the ride.


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By VA Duck on April 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Bourbon: A History..." by author Dane Huckelbridge lives up to its title - chronicling the corn-based spirit from the beginning of "hard spirits" at the hands of Raymond Llull in 1265 to bourbon's (trendy) "small batch" distillations. Once free of historic connection to generic 'spirits' the book follows the life of American Bourbon from George Thorpe's 'letter' in 1620 (1st documented reference) into the "Whiskey Rebellion" of 1791, through "The Great Experiment" of Prohibition to the modern resurgence of high quality small-batch bourbons. Huckelbridge insists on a 'swaggering' (?) style in his prose that at first captivates, then becomes annoying and finally ends at the Epilogue in guarded acceptance given to a good story, well told. Here is an excerpt containing the style, be the judge of its entertainment value to you because there are ~288 pages of this:

"Almost mind you. Because before bourbon can settle its spurs fully in the modern world, there are still a few wild corners of the country left to be tamed, and still a fair number of whiskey drinkers out on the range who know more about six-shooters than they do about stock prices. And thanks to the new fangled railroads, getting there is only a hop, skip, and a few whistle stops away. So saddle up and get ready, because the west didn't get Wild by sipping Coca Cola, and America didn't cut its teeth on Dentyne gum. Long before there was a car in every driveway and a chicken in every pot, there was a saloon on every corner and a bullet with your name on it. Hi-yo, bourbon! Away!" (pg.143, loc. 1566) (even the text is 'at least 51% corn'.)

The read is punctuated with a good number of illustrations that add interest and tie the text to the nostalgic past.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christopher R. Beha on April 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. It's written in such a snappy, engaging style that you almost don't realize how much research has been done. It's a great book to buy a friend who likes booze but it's also a serious work for those interested in the history of Appalachia or the Scots-Irish in America.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Wolff on April 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a tremendously entertaining and fun read.

The author clearly did his homework (must have been fun, why can't I get a job like that?), and presented the story of bourbon/America in a whimsical flowing writing style.

A great beach read, coffeetable book, or something to sit back and enjoy with a glass of your favorite small-batch bourbon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Magnus von Koeller on May 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well-written and informative. What more could you ask for? This is an easy read and entertainingly written. I truly enjoyed reading this, which I don't often say about non-fiction. But what's more, and what surprised me, is that there's actually a lot of heft to this book. Bourbon really is intertwined with American history, so there was lots to learn in here, particularly for an immigrant like me. Who knew that George Washington operated a Whiskey distillery? This book is well-researched, well-written and informative. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susan A Levi on May 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
So many of these books can be dry like a school text book. For the novice just getting interested in the history of this great american beverage it is fantastic and very easy to read in is story fashion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A reader on April 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I never thought I would call a nonfiction book a page-turner, but this one really is! I bought it for my husband as a gift but ended up reading it myself after it kept making him laugh out loud. The author is a witty guide through the surprisingly fascinating history of Bourbon. Highly recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Stinson on April 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
To write such a stylish and eye-opening history, it would take a first-rate raconteur, an assiduous scholar, and - perhaps most importantly - a red-blooded son of America's heartland. Clearly, Huckelbridge is all three.

His keen eye for detail vivifies bourbon's rich history, while his extraordinary gift for storytelling makes for a thoroughly entertaining read. Like cool branch water to any of Bardstown's best, Huckelbridge's prose is the perfect accompaniment to the history itself: wholly realized, refreshing, and revelatory.
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