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.
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Revisionist history at its worst
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.
- Dawson Roy Lewis III
Some what liberal interpretation of history.
- Gary "Economist. Quant. R-squared approaches 1.00."