ALCOHOL: THE DELIGHTFUL POISON: A History by Alice Fleming

ALCOHOL: THE DELIGHTFUL POISON: A History

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Anyone who picks this up without noting the subtitle is bound to be disappointed. After chapter one (on the discovery of different alcoholic drinks), which seems like the usual YA introductory summary, we start at the beginning all over again with a survey, not of drink this time but of drinking in history. And so it goes, with each chapter going back to trace the history of customs and ceremonies, liquor in the language, drunkenness, or--in a three chapter middle section--alcoholism in America from colonial breweries to the end of prohibition. It's just one detail or anecdote after another, and when Fleming does attempt interpretations they are asinine: "". . . beer played a role in the fight for women's rights. In 1861 a Poughkeepsie, New York brewer named Matthew Vassar set aside part of his sizable fortune to establish Vassar College, one of the country's earliest colleges for women. . . ."" Fleming ends by counseling moderation and emphasizing that alcoholism is not something to make jokes about--but does she have to be so poker faced?

Pub Date: June 6th, 1975
Publisher: Delacorte