Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization by Edward Slingerland. Anthropology.
Some while ago I read a very interesting article in the Atlantic about, basically, why human beings – as a species – go to so much trouble to get drunk (or high), considering how very bad for us it is. Here’s the article. So, when I came across this book, I thought, “Oh! That’s that guy! Cool!” and was excited to read it. I am here to tell you, don’t bother. All of the important points are in the article; the book is repetitive and adds almost nothing except some scholarly references. Read the article instead.
Typically left unexamined in these historical and anthropological surveys of our taste for booze, however, is the fundamental puzzle of why humans want to get drunk in the first place. Practically speaking, getting drunk or high seems like a really bad idea. At the individual level, alcohol is a neurotoxin that impairs our cognition and motor function and damages our body. At the social level, the link between drunkenness and social disorder is not an invention of modern football hooligans or college students. Wild, dangerously chaotic bacchanalia–a word derived from the name of the Greek god alternately called Dionysus or Bacchus–were a standard feature of ancient Greek life. Descriptions and visual depictions of alcohol-fueled rituals and banquets from ancient Egypt to China make it clear that disorder, fighting, illness, poorly timed unconsciousness, copious vomiting, and illicit sex have long been common outcomes of alcohol consumption.
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