Alcohol: A History
Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014. US$22.93 Available on amazon.com
Although I work primarily in wine, I teach a course on the history of alcohol. To some extent this book grew out of that course and out of my history of wine. As I worked on the history of wine, I realized that other alcoholic beverages --- notably beer and spirits, but also mead and other drinks – were part of the story: the earliest spirits (brandies) were distilled wine; beer was the drink of mass consumption in many cultures (such as ancient Egypt), while wine was consumed only by the elites; and while some temperance organizations attacked all alcoholic beverages, others focused mainly on spirits.
So this book is a history of alcohol from fermenting rotten fruit in prehistoric times to the modern alcohol beverage industry. The story includes: the connection between wine and Christianity; the Muslim world and the first successful Prohibition policy; the wine and beer trades of the Middle Ages; the transfer of European alcohol to the wider world; alcohol and imperialism; alcohol and war; alcohol and the industrial working classes; alcohol and health; Prohibition in the US, Russia/USSR, and elsewhere; alcohol and gender; and modern trends in alcohol consumption.
This is generally a global history of alcohol, but it stresses the role of Europe in fostering cultures of alcohol consumption in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.