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Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life Hardcover – June 19, 2008


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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (June 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525950656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525950653
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,518,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Steinberg, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose world-weary observations are laced with acerbic wit, often writes about his money-eating house in a leafy Chicago suburb and the family within it. Therefore, it was shock in 2005 when a drunk Steinberg was arrested for hitting his wife. (When he asked why she called 911, she replied, “Nobody hits me, Buddy.”) Forced by the court into rehab, Steinberg chronicles his journey to sobriety, following a circuitous route that included plenty of stops in local watering holes along the way. Incredibly honest (perhaps too honest for his fellow AA members), Steinberg initially wants no part of rehab or Alcholics Anonymous. For one thing, he doesn’t believe in a higher power, and if he did, he would not be inclined to surrender to it. Nor does he have much affection for his fellow addicts, “characters in a mediocre play.” What he loves is booze, and his tone turns almost jaunty as he describes his lapses. He wants a sophisticated life where he can drink, hoping liquour will turn his nebbish-like persona into Mike Royko. With every page, he realizes he can’t drink and retain the family he loves, but his resistance is contagious; even disapproving readers will understand how easy it is to drink and how hard it is to stop. Frank, funny, and insightful, Steinberg writes the book of his life. --Ilene Cooper

Review

"Hysterically funny."
-New York Post

"A compelling read, sad and wistful and breathtakingly forthright."
-Chicago Magazine

"Steinberg is a lively writer, with a keen gift for observation."
-Washington Post Book World

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 33 customer reviews
First things first -- this is very well written book by someone who can actually write.
caravaggio
I couldn't say whether this disenchantment was due to his personality or a temporary phase due to getting over his addiction.
C. Griffith
As someone who has struggled with alcohol and seen family and friends do the same, I love this book.
TKresler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
DRUNKARD, on the face of it, is another memoir of a tortured or addicted soul. One guy. But somehow Steinberg, with his lack of hyperbole and impeccable timing and style, draws us in and we feel an oddly genuine intimacy - one that good writers know how to deliver. i'm sober one year and a greedy obsessive reader, and this one rates up there with DRY by Augusten Burroughs, and Drinking, A Love Story. In fact, this book seems to me an uncanny hybrid of the two. It's not superior to either DRY or DRINKING A LOVE STORY, but it holds its own nicely. Most highly recommended.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Stach on July 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a regular reader of Mr. Steinberg's Sun-Times column, and was impressed by the grace and humility he exhibited when addressing his struggle. I have eagerly awaited his memoir of the experience, and was not disappointed. Steinberg does not hide his selfish, hurtful behavior nor the fortress of lies he built to conceal it. His story is difficult to read - and it must have been excruciating to write.

There is no happy ending for alcoholics/addicts and their families; at best, there can be healing and a commitment to pursuing a hopeful future. Steinberg is a fortunate man - he was forced to confront his disease in time to save his family, his job, and his life. Sharing his story is a grateful man's way of acknowledging his good fortune and making restitution to the world at large.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who struggles with substance abuse, for those affected by a loved one's struggle, and for anyone who seeks an education about addiction in the real world.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jared Combs on October 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As a recovering alcoholic myself, I was especially drawn to Neil's story, and I smiled frequently as I read similarity after similarity. "Drinking is something I earned the right to do", Neil says early in his book. That was my sentiment as well, and a tough river to cross.
In a nutshell, Neil gradually became more and more in love with alcohol, and the ease and comfort produced by it. It began to cause problems. With the assistance of his wife and the courts, Neil sought help. That's the way most of us get introduced into recovery (and that's ok folks-not shameful-just the way it goes).
Neil stubbornly and slightly arrogantly trudges through his court-appointed treatment, where he fights most of what they try to teach him, but he learns a great deal along the way in spite of himself.
In the end, Neil seems to still struggle with a few major recovery keystones such as humility, a relationship with God, and a recovery program. However, there's not just one single path to recovery.
The book is well-written, amicable, candid, and engaging. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It's been awhile since a book held my attention like this one did.
I look forward to reading the sequel in a few years as Neil continues his journey, and grows spiritually. It is my hope that he continues to grow in honesty, openmindedness, and willingness.
Thanks for the walk through this tough segment of your life Neil. Eventually, you'll come to realize that being an alcoholic could very well be the greatest gift God ever gave you.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By caravaggio on August 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First things first -- this is very well written book by someone who can actually write. A little ironic, a little funny, a little depressing, and a little bit uncomfortably over-intimate, in the tradition of the modern memoir. I saw it at my local bookstore last week (but ordered it on my Kindle) and picked it up on a whim. I'm not really sure how the book would come off to people who don't have problems with drugs or alcohol. I do, so a lot of it hit home with me. In one of those weird coincidences that make you wonder if the universe is trying to send you a personal message, I am 43 (like the author), I have two young children (like the author), I went to Northwestern (like the author), I lived in Winetka (near the author), and I have been drunk in virtually every Chicago restaurant and bar mentioned in the book (like the author). Oh, and this is my first year of sobriety. So, this hit weirdly and uncomfortably close to home for me. Lest you get the wrong impression, the book is not all melodrama; there is a lot of wry humor in the book that I deeply appreciated. If you have a drinking problem or know somebody who does -- or if you just want a peek into that world -- I would definitely recommend this book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Martha Frankel on July 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Loved this book. Neil Steinberg isn't an out of control, down on his luck, out on the street kind of drunk. No, he's more of an average guy who finds himself thinking about drinking when he should be working. Or having a nip right before he drives his kids to a softball game. Or hits his wife because he's so loaded and she's had just about enough of him. Every single word rings true. Laughed and cried,a nd really, what more can you ask? Hats & Eyeglasses: A Family Love Affair with Gambling
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rev Mary Helen on August 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Neil Steinberg's Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life is a fascinating account of his struggle to confront his alcoholism. This is a well written book about a subject that almost everyone can relate to on some level. While recounting a very dark time in his life, Steinberg manages to hang on to his sense of humor.
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