In Drinking in America, best-selling author Susan Cheever chronicles our national love affair with liquor, taking a long, thoughtful look at the way alcohol has changed our nation's history. This is the often-overlooked story of how alcohol has shaped American events and the American character from the 17th to the 20th century.
Seen through the lens of alcoholism, American history takes on a vibrancy and a tragedy missing from many earlier accounts. From the drunkenness of the Pilgrims to Prohibition hijinks, drinking has always been a cherished American custom: a way to celebrate and a way to grieve and a way to take the edge off. At many pivotal points in our history - the illegal Mayflower landing at Cape Cod, the enslavement of African Americans, the McCarthy witch hunts, and the Kennedy assassination, to name only a few - alcohol has acted as a catalyst.
Some nations drink more than we do, some drink less, but no other nation has been the drunkest in the world, as America was in the 1830s, only to outlaw drinking entirely a hundred years later. Both a lively history and an unflinching cultural investigation, Drinking in America unveils the volatile ambivalence within one nation's tumultuous affair with alcohol.
©2015 Susan Cheever (P)2015 Hachette Audio
Economist. Quant. R-squared approaches 1.00.
Taking drinking in context to historical events, this author opens reader's eyes to a part of history not taught in schools...but it should be.
Susie R Powell
..Secret history of celebs. My fault, I think I was looking for something about bootleggers rather than a history of the drinkers who are famous. I consider then to be a small effect of drinking in America.
I wanted to like this book. One of its main undercurrents is the fact that alcohol has a large and important role in our history and that it is over overlooked in official historic tracts. This is interesting and I think well laid out.
However, the book often veers from historical recounting (what I find more interesting) to opinions that are sometimes questionable. It can be hard to discern which parts are the author inserting her impressions (which I often find cause to doubt) and which are factually documented. Also-at times the author's tone becomes judgmental.
The treatment of history is uneven and often spends too much or little time on certain topics (too much time on American writers who were alcoholics and too little time on the transition from alcohol as necessary dietary requirement due to non potable water to enjoyment).
Ultimately, cannot recommend this book. The premise is promising but ultimately the execution is flat.
P.S. Some have criticized it for being "liberal" interpretation. I would agree with that idea broadly. At times, the bounds are overstepped.
Maybe after a couple of drinks.
I would recommend it, but it is a topic that may not appeal to most readers though.
Kind of neutral. Nothing stood out as either great or poor.
This book is not suited to be a movie. Mostly American history based around our obsession with alcohol.
A little dry for my taste. No pun intended.
I thought I was getting a history of drinking. while there were some interesting facts, what this book does is allow the author to speculate and draw loose conclusions on why certain events happened. She all but blames the assassination of President Kennedy on the drinking of Secret Service men. She also uses this book as a forum for railing on conservatives as well as Nixon and Bush. I was very disappointed.
I applaud Cheever for overcoming her addiction; however, she is clearly not an historian. She approaches American history and specifically watershed moments from the perspective of alcoholism. She proposes heavy-handed reinterpretations of these events while offering scarcely more evidence than the fact that brandy was in the room. She implies, for example, that the Pilgrims on the Mayflower landed in Plymouth rather than their planned destination (near present-day NYC) because were ill-prepared for the New World because they were drunk, not because the waters around Long Island were dangerous, nor because the pilgrims were city-dwelling shop owners who wouldn't have known the first thing about building homes and infrastructure from scratch. The book is riddled with this kind of sloppy research. Very disappointed.
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