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The Joy of Drinking [Anglais] [Relié]

Barbara Holland

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.4 étoiles sur 5  17 commentaires
34 internautes sur 34 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A high-octane, amusing and idiosyncratic history of alcohol 1 mai 2007
Par Jesse Kornbluth - Publié sur
Civilization, said William Faulkner, began with fermentation.

This makes sense. You'll sweat carrying even a few bushels of fresh fruit. But if you let that fruit ripen and ferment, you can fill a bottle with the liquid, walk over to a friend's house and have a party --- and if that isn't civilized, what is?

Barbara Holland, a widely praised essayist, returns with a short, idiosyncratic history of alcohol. Whether you drink or not, it's a fascinating book on an important subject --- maybe an all-important subject.

I'm kidding? Not so. The impulse to leave this reality behind is hard-wired in most of us. For Dr. Andrew Weil, the desire for intoxication begins when we're kids, spinning around and around and around until we're thoroughly dizzy. Later, we graduate to substances. But the deal's the same: We want to get high. Or, as Samuel Johnson put it, looking at the dark side of drink, "He who makes a beast of himself at least rids himself of the pain of being a man."

For most of Holland's book, the beast is hidden. What we find --- to our certain astonishment --- is the ubiquity of alcohol in daily life. She starts with the Bible, moves on to Marco Polo, and digresses to muse about all those centuries when the only amusement was socializing:

Along with occasionally promoting drunken brawls, alcohol encouraged a more tolerant interest in one's fellow man. Note that today vodka-soaked Russia doesn't produce murderous fanatics like those of caffeine-soaked Islamic societies. Drunk, the suicidal Russian kills only himself.

The book kicks in for me in the Middle Ages, with the rise of the tavern, the Starbucks of its time. Beer, sack, mead --- gee, it's fun just saying those words. But then came gin, powered by the juniper berry. And with that poisonous brew, which made men violent and women unreasonable, we see, for the first time, the power of drink to ride like an apocalyptic horseman through an entire social class, wiping lives out by the thousands. In the mid-1700s, London's streets were a sea of drunks; "little girls took up prostitution to support their habit." Gentlemen were spared the gin curse, but only because their daily consumption was "four to six bottles of port, drunk slowly in small glassfuls."

The New World was no more sober. Christmas in the Colonies lasted three weeks --- but who remembered? George Washington bought votes with liquor. Not long after, Thomas Jefferson worried about alcohol consumption and proposed that Americans drink wine, a drink few had tasted and fewer liked.

You know about Vin Mariani, the cocaine-laced wine endorsed by Pope Leo XIII. But did you know Presidents Grant and McKinley adored it? And Queen Victoria?

Prohibition led to the rise of the Martini, which merits a chapter all its own. "Fred Astaire in a glass," someone said of it. Winston Churchill, a brandy and champagne man, made his by pouring gin in a pitcher and nodding at a nearby bottle of vermouth. And so on....this drink inspires anecdotes.

Alcoholics Anonymous. Hangovers (which can, apparently, be cured by a product called Sob'r-K). The best recipe for a Bloody Mary. The water-and-fitness craze. Red wine for health. Barbara Holland dances over every alcohol-related topic and trend, sprinkling each with some amusing tidbit or wry observation.

And she ends? Where else? A barstool. In the midwest. With the guy on the next stool asking, "How's your mom?"

Fun to read. And, even more fun: a great gift.
24 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Bottoms up! 21 mai 2007
Par Jon Hunt - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I never knew drinking could be so much fun (or that it used to be even more fun!) until I read Barbara Holland's new book, "The Joy of Drinking". Packing a wallop as good as some of the cocktails she describes, Holland compares how alcohol brought people together for the first time thousands of years ago to now.... the change in our own lifetime in the way we drink has been profound. It's as much a commentary on sociology as the booze itself.

Holland's humor is dry and when I found myself chortling at some of her lines, I knew I was hooked on the book. Early on she describes the percentage of daily nutritional needs that are met by a moderate beer drinker and then goes on to say, "should he go on to immoderate beer drinking, he becomes a walking vitamin pill." Now, THAT'S good stuff! She quotes Mark Twain as saying, "sometimes too much drink is barely enough". The book is (if I may say so), "laced" with these witticisms and it gives her work a distinct flavor for which even vodka lovers might yearn.

But "The Joy of Drinking" gets serious, too. Invading wine countries that defeated spirits countries found the local brew not to their liking. The drinking habits of the Founding Fathers, both singly and collectively, are covered here as well...the history books never told us that, as I recall. She has chapters on the gin of England, the not so pure Puritans, the temperance movement, Alcoholics Anonymous, hangovers, boozers versus coffee and water drinkers, etc. There's so much here in this 148-page prose and all of it is good.

"The Joy of Drinking" may never outsell "the Joy of Cooking", but it should. Holland's narrative style is a delight and her book mirrors what has become lost in the transition to the electronic age. The main thrust of the book seems to be this....drinking for dozens of generations was a social merriment and now we have flavored vodkas, vintage wines and people drinking alone at home as they pore over their computers. Yes, "joy" is the key word in the title and Holland reminds us that things have indeed changed with regard to that social nature of drink... change that she sees not for the good. I highly recommend "The Joy of Drinking". It's a wonderful romp!
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Great non-fiction summer read 27 juin 2007
Par W. Sibley - Publié sur
This is a wonderful read. Ms. Holland produced a tightly written, humerous look at drinking. She even lets you know how to build a still.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 As pleasurable as a perfect cocktail! 12 juin 2007
Par J. B Kraft - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
The Joy of Drinking is a delightful diversion for readers. Holland is witty, articulate, sophisticated and succinct, and even when she is educating us about the history of drinking, or the debt civilization owes it, she does it subtly.

Her writing is "read aloud" prose -- a perfect cocktail shaked to perfection and served with a flourish!

It's first rate conversational material on our cocktail table -- small enough that it doesn't interfere with critical drink space, but ready to spark a lively conversation about a pleasurable activity. She entertains us like someone we'd love to have drinks with, and reminds us that drinking is a social and sociable activity.

I read it through twice, and love to pick it up and read a few pages at random.

Buy two -- one for you and one for a friend whose company over drinks gives you great enjoyment!

2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Surprisingly entertaining 8 décembre 2010
Par Elizabeth B. - Publié sur
I am so used to reading dry self-help stuff that I found this book refreshingly glib, as well as wonderfully informative. So far I've learned the origin of the word "honeymoon," and that most wars throughout history were fought "under the influence." Also-- that the drinking age around the turn of the century was 10. It all makes sense now! This book really puts into historical perspective our society's puritanical attitude towards drinking. If you're in AA, I wouldn't recommend it!
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