Synopses & Reviews
In Drinking in America
, bestselling 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 seventeenth to the twentieth 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.
"Cheever lays bare something many of us know intimately: 'alcoholism is a family disease,' she writes, and its roots in the American family run deep."
"Susan Cheever offers a humane but unsentimental view of our nation's inebriated past in Drinking in America. To excuse the pun, it's an addictive read full of wit and verve, revealing the deep influence of alcohol on many of our country's most significant moments, from the landing at Plymouth Harbour, to the Kennedy Assassination and Watergate. This is terrific social history but not as it's usually told, and all the better for it."
Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire (winner of the Whitbread) and A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War
"A fascinating look at the place and function of alcohol throughout American history...[Cheever] offers a colorful portrait of a society that, like her own family, has been indelibly shaped by its drinking habits. An intelligently argued study of our country's 'passionate connection to drinking.'"
About the Author
Susan Cheever is the author of the biographies E.E. Cummings, American Bloomsbury, and My Name Is Bill, as well as five novels and four memoirs. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, New York Times, and Newsday, among other magazines and anthologies. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow, has been nominated for a National Book Circle Award, and won the Boston Globe Winship medal. She attended Brown University and has taught at many places, including Yale, Brown, Columbia, the New School, and Bennington College.