Friday, December 7, 2012

Drinking History by Andrew F. Smith

book cover
Drinking History
by Andrew F. Smith

ISBN-13: 9780231151160
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Released: November 27, 2012

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher (through Netgalley).

Book Description from Goodreads:
Whether alcoholic or nonalcoholic, carbonated or caffeinated, warm or frozen, watery or thick, spicy or plain -- Americans have invented, adopted, modified, and commercialized tens of thousands of beverages. These include uncommon cocktails, varieties of coffee and milk, and such iconic creations as Welch's grape juice, Coca-Cola, root beer, and Kool-Aid.

Involved in their creation and promotion were entrepreneurs and environmentalists, bartenders and bottlers, politicians and lobbyists, organized and unorganized criminals, teetotalers and drunks, German and Italian immigrants, savvy advertisers and gullible consumers, prohibitionists and medical professionals, and everyday Americans in love with their brew.

My Review:
Drinking History is a look at the beverages popular with Americans through our history, from Native Americans and the colonists to the present day. The author linked various events in American history to changes in which beverages are popular to drink. It's written with a casual tone and is an easy read.

There was a minor amount of repetition as some events caused more than one beverage to catch on. Sometimes, near the end of a chapter, the narrative turned into lists of which company bought out which company over the years. I was more interested in the descriptions of the events (political and/or technological) that caused a change of drinking patterns or the creation of new beverages, and that's what made up most of the book. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting and enjoyable book.

The chapters covered: what the colonists drank and why; rum, tea, whiskey, hard cider, beer, milk, cocktails, juices, soft drinks, Kool-Aid, flavored milk, sports and energy drinks, wine, water and bottled water, and coffee. While exploring these beverages, we also learned about events leading to the Revolutionary War, the Temperance Movement, Prohibition, etc., and about people like Johnny Appleseed. We also occasionally got an old recipe telling how a certain beverage was made. There was a lot of information on how drinks were marketed to make them popular as well as surprising health concerns about various drinks and how drink producers overcame those concerns.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.