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)
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Following his earlier treatise on tobacco, historian Gately focuses on another of humanity’s consuming passions: alcoholic beverages. Beginning with classical civilizations, he traces the rise of vintner, brewer, and distiller, whose demand for fruits, grains, and new markets helped fuel the expansion of empires. Gately contrasts Christianity’s intimate embrace of the fruit of the vine with Islam’s absolute rejection of intoxicating libations. European explorers carted wines over oceans only to discover that New World civilizations had already concocted their own sophisticated and highly drinkable spirits. Rum became inextricably bound with slave trading, and mass production and undisciplined consumption of whiskey and gin threatened to unravel the social fabric of newly industrialized European and American economies. Governments adopted different strategies for dealing with alcohol abuse, ranging from regulation of the opening hours of public houses to outright prohibition. A grand, always engaging survey of the role of booze in both cultural and social history. --Mark Knoblauch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
It's a wonderful book.
There is nothing especial about it that is not already as advertised, it provides everything I expected based on what was told to me about it. Read more
It really does show how alcohol came about and why it is so a part of many cultures. this is a great easy, interesting read.Published on February 12, 2013 by appleluv
Years ago, when I was actually studying to become an alcoholism counselor, I read something from long-ago America, during some sort of political election..... Read morePublished on September 14, 2008 by Anne Salazar