Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Drinking in America

I LOVED this book! I'm a huge fan of micro-histories, and while this subject is a little broad it all come back to the booze. Soo intriguing! Author, Susan Cheever, does a brilliant job of cataloging many of the incidents that helped make America great and then launches in to how booze played a part. Trust me, a big part. Why did the pilgrims land at Plymouth? Because they were running out of beer and didn't think they could make it to the land they were actually granted. Why did everyone really love Johnny Appleseed? Because the nasty apple trees he planted weren't good for eating but WERE good for turning into cider. How much did soldiers drink in the American Revolution and the Civil War? Triple what you thought, maybe more. How did booze play a part in President KEnnedy's assassination? His security detail had partied hard the night before and were too hungover to react quickly. My view of American history is forever altered. Booze has been present every step of our country's way and it is NEVER mentioned (unless it's about the prohibition). Cheever talks about how laws have changed as is how we define drunkenness. In the eighteenth century this little diddy helped define who was drunk: "Not drunk is he who from the floor, / Can rise again and still drink more, / But drunk is he who prostrate lies, / Without the power to drink or rise." I doubt that version of sobriety would pass today. In fact during the 1820's Americans were drinking TRIPLE what we consume today!! Crazy! Cheever doesn't condone drinking but she does a great job of illustrating the negative AND positive effects booze has had on our country. A fascinating book!

No comments:

Post a Comment