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Publisher's Summary

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
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By C. Trunek on 05-16-17


I was unaware of the part drinking has played in the history of the United States - I am not sure it was as influential as the author declares, but I learned much from her account.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By debbye scroggins on 05-09-17

Better research needed

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

More in-depth research. Was really into the book until a line in the book turned me off entirely. There was a comment made about Thomas Meager falling off a boat and drowning because he was drunk. There is no decisive proof that this was the situation and there were other factors that may have been at play. He indeed may have been drunk, but there is speculation that he may have been ill or he may have been murdered by enemies who were aboard the same boat. The cause of his death has never been clearly determined. For Ms. Cheever to unequivocally state that he was drunk and fell off the boat to his death made me question every fact she included in her story and this damaged her credibility with me. I can't even finish the book because I do not know what to believe and what not to believe.

Further, Ms. Cheever's story reads like a law school exam. Very thoughtful and meticulous for the first part of the book, then everything else is dumped in the pages in a fitful and purging manner. A large portion of the book is spent on the Adams family and then mere paragraphs are spent on the seemingly unimportant events in history such as the Civil War. It is as if Ms. Cheever realized she was running out of time and because of this the story bounced around like crazy to the point where it became hard to follow.

Has Drinking in America turned you off from other books in this genre?

Not at all.

Which character – as performed by Barbara Benjamin Creel – was your favorite?

John Chapman

What character would you cut from Drinking in America?

Thomas Meagher

Any additional comments?

Go back and do the research more fully before branding historical figures as alcoholics. Back up what is stated with all the facts and not mere speculation. This book had the potential to be fabulous.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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