Book Review: A Short History of Drunkenness

When I reviewed The Elements of Eloquence four years ago, I wrote: "I am not sure what your next book will be, but you can be pretty sure that I will be reading it." And so, ever the dutiful chronicler of Mark Forsyth's literary endeavours (he did release A Christmas Cornucopia in late 2016, so there's that!), here I am, with my take on his latest book that's all about the history of getting soused and sozzled. Sparkling, witty and laugh out loud funny, word historian Forsyth embarks on a short, roughly chronological ride that succinctly explains the ins and outs of alcohol use around the world, while giving his own irreverent, ribald take on the weird customs people have created around the process of getting drunk. Blending religion, history and etymology, the answers to the questions: What did people drink? How much? Who did the drinking and Why? will amuse as much as entertain, but not before delving on its impact on Britain's colonisation of Australia and America, and the close relationship between legislation (Prohibition) and excessive drunkenness. Despite being a teetotaller, this is one journey of intoxication I wouldn't mind taking over and over again. Highly recommended!