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Synopses & Reviews
London in the early eighteenth century was a burgeoning metropolis: fast moving, and dangerous. It was just at this time that gin — "Madam Geneva" as it was known then — was introduced from Holland. William II encouraged a distilling industry in London because it used up grain and gave a boost to landowners and farmers. But gin consumption by Londoners soon was out of control. Patrick Dillon explores this uncertain time, when the "Gin Craze" was thought by some to threaten the destruction of civilization, causing everything from violent crime to the destruction of families. He follows gin's introduction, its rise in popularity, the prohibition and the bootleg underground, straight on through to regulation and the big businesses that still dominate the industry today.
"Dillon's overheated prose suits this tale of mania, particularly in his depiction of the chaotic London underworld, which is more absorbing than his well-researched and involved account of the often venal (no surprise) efforts to control, regulate, or prohibit the drink." Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic review)
"A fascinating tale, ringing with authentic voices." Jenny Uglow, London Sunday Times
"Dillon ably brings into the picture what the writers of the times had to offer, from Smollet to Defoe to Fielding; the role of class distinction in gin?s rise and fall; the effects of the middle class and materialism on the drink; and the part Mother Nature played via harvest failures. He lauds the pragmatism of repealing the gin acts and draws the obvious parallels between those acts and our own war on drugs." Kirkus Reviews
"Patrick Dillon has written a marvellously vivid depiction of the gin craze, in which a colourful procession of rogues, strumpets and wayward vagabonds stagger from tavern to tavern in search of the demonic Madame Geneva." Giles Milton, author of Nathaniel's Nutmeg
"Throughout, Dillon expertly displays the intricate connections between politics and business, pleasure and morality, public policy and illegal consumption." Publishers Weekly
Includes bibliographical references (p. -334) and index.
This book follows gin's introduction, its rise in popularity, the prohibition and the bootleg underground, straight on through to regulation and the big businesses that still dominate the industry today. 20 illustrations.
About the Author
Patrick Dillon was born in London and has always held a passionate interest in it and its history. He studied architecture and architectural history at University College, London. He has, for the past twelve years, run a successful London architectural practice with projects including buildings for the Poetry Society and the Chelsea Theatre. He has a special expertise in the history of eighteenth century architecture, and is currently acting as a consultant on the redevelopment of the Benjamin Franklin House in London as a museum and study center. Patrick is married and has two children. He has previously published two novels, Truth (Penguin, 1997) and Lies (Penguin, 1998).
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