A Short History of Drunkenness

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What to expect

Penguin presents the audiobook edition of A Short History of Drunkenness by Mark Forsyth, read by Sh*tfaced Shakespeare’s Richard Hughes.

Almost every culture on earth has drink, and where there’s drink there’s drunkenness. But in every age and in every place drunkenness is a little bit different. It can be religious, it can be sexual, it can be the duty of kings or the relief of peasants. It can be an offering to the ancestors, or a way of marking the end of a day’s work. It can send you to sleep, or send you into battle.

A Short History of Drunkenness traces humankind’s love affair with booze from our primate ancestors through to Prohibition, answering every possible question along the way: What did people drink? How much? Who did the drinking? Of the many possible reasons, why? On the way, learn about the Neolithic Shamans, who drank to communicate with the spirit world (no pun intended), marvel at how Greeks got giddy and Romans got rat-arsed, and find out how bars in the Wild West were never quite like in the movies.

This is a history of the world at its inebriated best.

Critics Review

  • Sometimes you see a book title that simply gladdens the heart. Everyone I showed this book to either smiled broadly or laughed out loud . . . This is a book of some brilliance – probably best consumed with a restorative glass of something by your side.

    Daily Mail
  • As Mark Forsyth brilliantly shows, civilisation is built on booze. Egypt (beer), Greece and Rome (wine) depended on alcohol to create their mighty works. Where man drinks, he prospers, and vice versa. A toast to this spirits-fuelled spirits-lifter. Staggering!

    Harry Mount, editor of The Oldie
  • Well researched and recounted with excellent humour, Forsyth’s alcohol-ridden tale is sure to reduce anyone to a stupor of amazement.

    Daily Express
  • A treat for the connoisseur who enjoys a robust anecdote from the past with his drink

    The Telegraph, India
  • This year’s must-have stocking filler … the essential addition to the library in the smallest room is Mark Forsyth’s The Etymologicon

    Guardian
  • I thought I knew quite a bit about drinking but A Short History of Drunkenness made me look at inebriation anew. Each chapter amazed, challenged and stimulated me so much that I needed a stiff drink at the end of it.

    Henry Jeffreys, author of Empire of Booze

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