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Spirits of America


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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Spirits of the World1. The First National Pastime2. The General and the Doctor3. The Father of Prohibition and Other Kinfolk4. The Crusaders and Their Crusades5. The Importance of Being Frank6. Hatchetation7. The Wheeler-Dealer and His Men8. The Blues and How They Played9. Executive Softness10. The Hummingbird Beats the OddsEpilogue: Strange BedfellowsAcknowledgmentsNotesSelect BibliographyIndex

About the Author

Eric Burns is the host of "Fox News Watch" on the Fox News Channel. He was named by the Washington Journalism Review as one of the best writers in the history of broadcast journalism. His other books include Broadcast Blues and The Joy of Books.


The host of Fox News Channel's Fox News Watch, Burns (The Joy of Books; Broadcast Blues) presents an enjoyable and informative examination of the role of alcoholic beverages in American society. "Thousands of years ago, before Christ or Buddha or Muhammad, before the Roman Empire rose or the Colossus of Rhodes fell, people in Asia Minor were drinking beer." After a brief tour of alcohol in history, Burns sets out to detail the role that intoxicating beverages have played in the development of American history. From Colonial America's huge consumption of alcohol (George Washington and James Madison both lost elections early in their careers by failing to provide enough free liquor to voters) to a detailed look at the temperance movement (figures like the "Queen of Hachetation," Carry A. Nation, and other colorful teetotalers), the botched experiment of Prohibition, and alcohol in modern America, Burns provides plenty of information in a straightforward, easy-to-read manner. Unlike Griffith Edwards's Alcohol: The World's Favorite Drug, this book just examines alcohol in history; no mention is made of the medical or psychological effects of America's love-hate affair with alcohol. While not scholarly in tone, Burns's book will be useful for undergraduate academic libraries and may find an audience in public libraries as well.-Mark Bay, Cumberland Coll. Lib., Williamsburg, KY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"Eric Burns's The Spirits of America provides a lively jaunt through the United States' lengthy and dysfunctional relationship with its favored medium of mild derangement, alcohol. His prose is breezy and energetic. One of the primary strengths of The Spirits of America - beyond Burns's raconteurish affability - is the deftness with which it illuminates the complexities and tragedies that underlie the more familiar aspects of the history of America and alcohol. It's a charming and entertaining book, to be sure; at times it's also, as it should be, somewhat sobering." Gastronomica "enjoyable . ..beautifully written. I enjoyed every page. The book is well organized and moves briskly through many good stories of temperance wars; there is even some poignancy. Spirits of America is a good read." Indiana Magazine of History ".overall entertaining and informative. [Burns'] choice of key players in the alcohol debates over the past two centuries is compelling and justifies his perspective of alcohol's social history." Material Culture "Burns has written a delightful book and an intelligent one. It is easily the best popular history of drink and its enemies in the United States for the period before 1933." The Historian "Burns has produced a fascinating book and demonstrated that alcohol, as well as Americans ambivalent attitudes towards it, has been an important sub-theme in American history." The Orange County Register "[The Spirits of America] is a perfect marriage between factual information and anecdotal interludes." The Legal Intelligencer "Eric Burns' book is as lively and engaging as a tailgate party on a Saturday afternoon, yet as sobering as a car wreck and a diagnosis of addiction. Burns connects America's thirst for drink to some of the most important social movements in the country's history: abolition and suffragism, organized labor, Progressivism, and, of course, temperance and Prohibition. Reading this epic of desire and destruction is to see our story magnified through the bottom of a bottle. It's history by the shot glass." --Bill Moyers "Eric Burns has written a marvelous history on the suprising role Alcohol has played in the making of our Republic. Brilliantly researched with elegantly interwoven anecdotes, Spirits of America makes for riveting reading. A truly important book." --Douglas Brinkley, Director of The Eisenhower Center for American Studies and Professor of History at the University of New Orleans "Burns, a self-described "non-academic historian" and host of Fox News Watch, takes readers on a romp with boozers and teetotalers in this high-spirited history of alcohol in America. ...Best of all are his lively portraits of mostly-forgotten historical figures, such as Diocletian Lewis, who, with his mother Delecta, formed the Visitation Bands, which gathered outside barrooms 'communicating their displeasure to the heavens.' ...readers who like informative fun need not be so straight-laced-there are plenty of solid facts here and the Emmy-winning author clearly knows how to spin a good yarn." --Publishers Weekly "By turns humorous and sobering, the book is filled with interesting facts and trivia (apparently bottles of cider were sometimes shared between spectators and trial participants in colonial American courtrooms), and Bums' engaging writing style makes the book a delight to read." --History Magazine "His prose is engaging and relaxed, written in the rhythms of an accomplished raconteur rather than the jargon of the academic. In short, [The Spirits of America] is about as dry as a colonial tavern." --Andrew Stuttaford, National Review "This is that rare vintage of a book: both a fascinating read and a reliable historical reference. Burns delivers a beauty." --G.E. Murray, St. Louis Post-Dispatch "...thoroughly enjoyable... [Burns] is at his best when he is dropping bits of trivia into longer tales."--The Weekly Standard "If Big Shots is the literary equivalent of an umbrella drink, Eric Burns's social history is like a straight whisky...informative and lively. Of course, with characters like Carry Nation floating about, who christened her approach to temperance "hatchetation"--her favorite tool to take to bars being a hatchet--liveliness would be hard to miss. ...Burns's book is a must for anyone with an interest in the long, ambivalent relationship America has had with distilled spirits." --Wine & Spirits "...students and the general public might enjoy this lighthearted approach." --Choice "Burns is a good writer who makes many pertinent and interesting points. If you don't know much about Prohibition and want to know more, The Spirits of America is a good place to start." --American Brewer

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