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The Joy of Drinking Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First Edition edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596913371
  • ASIN: B001P3OMCI
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Holland, a prolific and wide-ranging writer (Gentlemen's Blood, among others), distills a considerable tonnage of fact and trivia into this casual, shot-sized volume, the kind once found in every libation-related library, tucked behind every bar next to the Mr. Boston guide and a dog-eared paperback joke collection. She has a breezy, whimsical style, perfectly suited to her swift romp across the histories and cultures of alcohol down through the ages. While disclosing facts about the drinking habits—and abuses—of characters like Mark Anthony, Samuel Pepys and Pope Leo XIII, Holland includes summaries of how various kinds of fermentations and distillates were developed, often accidentally, in cultures from ancient Arabia to present-day America, and in times from Ptolemy's to Prohibition. She includes several recipes for home-style "remedies" like elderberry wine and applejack, as well as diagrams and instructions for the construction of your own backyard still. It's the sort of book-length essay that makes a perfect Father's Day gift, with stocking-stuffer backlist potential in seasons to come. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Impressive…Holland has a light, winsome tourch and is always funny."--New York Times

"With a style as witty, practical and Triple Sec as M.F.K. Fisher's, Holland's "The Joy of Drinking" grows from a hilarious ancient-history lesson into a compulsively readable mini-mosaic of humans and our various fermented tipples." --Los Angeles Times

"Holland, a prolific and wide-ranging writer, distills a considerable tonnage of fact and trivia into this casual, shot-sized volume...She has a breezy, whimsical style, perfectly suited to her swift romp across the histories and cultures of alcohol down through the ages." --Publishers Weekly

"Mixing fact, fable, anecdote, and personal opinion with irresistible panache, cultural historian Barbara Holland's The Joy of Drinking distills thousands of years of humankind's lusty relationship with alcohol--made from fermented honey, hops, grapes, grains, and even mare's milk--into a slim, sparkling history that covers all manner of blithe spirits, from lowly beer, 'the cornerstone of civilization,' to the vaunted martini, aka 'Fred Astaire in a glass.'" --Elle
 
Praise for the national bestseller When All the World Was Young:
"A wise, funny, haunting and thoroughly grown-up book."--Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World
"Beautifully written...sharply detailed recollections...compelling, both touching and funny. Holland writes with breezy elegance and a sly wit."--New York Times Book Review
"Imagine Lauren Bacall narrating Tristram Shandy...Leisurely and rich as a long, steamy summer day."--Chicago Tribune
"Richly detailed, droll, and very human. She could be our E. B. White."--Washingtonian (a Best Book of 2004)
"The word charming could have been coined just so it could be ascribed to Holland."--Booklist
"A smart coming-of-age text...an acute narrative of how the clever Holland came to be so writerly."--Kirkus Reviews

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Customer Reviews

I've purchased several copies of this book as gifts.
studioprod.
I am so used to reading dry self-help stuff that I found this book refreshingly glib, as well as wonderfully informative.
Elizabeth B.
This makes for an excellent gift to anyone who you would consider a drinking buddy.
Cody Kittle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Kornbluth TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Civilization, said William Faulkner, began with fermentation.

This makes sense. You'll sweat carrying even a few bushels of fresh fruit. But if you let that fruit ripen and ferment, you can fill a bottle with the liquid, walk over to a friend's house and have a party --- and if that isn't civilized, what is?

Barbara Holland, a widely praised essayist, returns with a short, idiosyncratic history of alcohol. Whether you drink or not, it's a fascinating book on an important subject --- maybe an all-important subject.

I'm kidding? Not so. The impulse to leave this reality behind is hard-wired in most of us. For Dr. Andrew Weil, the desire for intoxication begins when we're kids, spinning around and around and around until we're thoroughly dizzy. Later, we graduate to substances. But the deal's the same: We want to get high. Or, as Samuel Johnson put it, looking at the dark side of drink, "He who makes a beast of himself at least rids himself of the pain of being a man."

For most of Holland's book, the beast is hidden. What we find --- to our certain astonishment --- is the ubiquity of alcohol in daily life. She starts with the Bible, moves on to Marco Polo, and digresses to muse about all those centuries when the only amusement was socializing:

Along with occasionally promoting drunken brawls, alcohol encouraged a more tolerant interest in one's fellow man. Note that today vodka-soaked Russia doesn't produce murderous fanatics like those of caffeine-soaked Islamic societies. Drunk, the suicidal Russian kills only himself.

The book kicks in for me in the Middle Ages, with the rise of the tavern, the Starbucks of its time. Beer, sack, mead --- gee, it's fun just saying those words. But then came gin, powered by the juniper berry.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on May 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I never knew drinking could be so much fun (or that it used to be even more fun!) until I read Barbara Holland's new book, "The Joy of Drinking". Packing a wallop as good as some of the cocktails she describes, Holland compares how alcohol brought people together for the first time thousands of years ago to now.... the change in our own lifetime in the way we drink has been profound. It's as much a commentary on sociology as the booze itself.

Holland's humor is dry and when I found myself chortling at some of her lines, I knew I was hooked on the book. Early on she describes the percentage of daily nutritional needs that are met by a moderate beer drinker and then goes on to say, "should he go on to immoderate beer drinking, he becomes a walking vitamin pill." Now, THAT'S good stuff! She quotes Mark Twain as saying, "sometimes too much drink is barely enough". The book is (if I may say so), "laced" with these witticisms and it gives her work a distinct flavor for which even vodka lovers might yearn.

But "The Joy of Drinking" gets serious, too. Invading wine countries that defeated spirits countries found the local brew not to their liking. The drinking habits of the Founding Fathers, both singly and collectively, are covered here as well...the history books never told us that, as I recall. She has chapters on the gin of England, the not so pure Puritans, the temperance movement, Alcoholics Anonymous, hangovers, boozers versus coffee and water drinkers, etc. There's so much here in this 148-page prose and all of it is good.

"The Joy of Drinking" may never outsell "the Joy of Cooking", but it should. Holland's narrative style is a delight and her book mirrors what has become lost in the transition to the electronic age.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By W. Sibley on June 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful read. Ms. Holland produced a tightly written, humerous look at drinking. She even lets you know how to build a still.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. B Kraft VINE VOICE on June 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Joy of Drinking is a delightful diversion for readers. Holland is witty, articulate, sophisticated and succinct, and even when she is educating us about the history of drinking, or the debt civilization owes it, she does it subtly.

Her writing is "read aloud" prose -- a perfect cocktail shaked to perfection and served with a flourish!

It's first rate conversational material on our cocktail table -- small enough that it doesn't interfere with critical drink space, but ready to spark a lively conversation about a pleasurable activity. She entertains us like someone we'd love to have drinks with, and reminds us that drinking is a social and sociable activity.

I read it through twice, and love to pick it up and read a few pages at random.

Buy two -- one for you and one for a friend whose company over drinks gives you great enjoyment!

Cheers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth B. on December 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I am so used to reading dry self-help stuff that I found this book refreshingly glib, as well as wonderfully informative. So far I've learned the origin of the word "honeymoon," and that most wars throughout history were fought "under the influence." Also-- that the drinking age around the turn of the century was 10. It all makes sense now! This book really puts into historical perspective our society's puritanical attitude towards drinking. If you're in AA, I wouldn't recommend it!
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