Saturday, June 26, 2010

Five best books on alcohol

Daniel Okrent was the first public editor of the New York Times, editor-at-large of Time, Inc., and managing editor of Life magazine. He worked in book publishing as an editor at Knopf and Viking, and was editor-in-chief of general books at Harcourt Brace. He was also a featured commentator on Ken Burns’s PBS series, Baseball, and is author of four books, one of which, Great Fortune, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history. Okrent was also a fellow at the Shorenstein Center at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where he remains an Associate.

His new book is Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books on alcohol. One title on his list:
Domesticating Drink by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Johns Hopkins, 1998

Despite her subtitle, "Women, Men, and Alcohol in America, 1870-1940," Catherine Gilbert Murdock's primary subjects are female and her perspective decidedly feminist. But by focusing on women and drink—territory previously unexplored by scholars of her ability—she is able to tease out some of the puzzling and persistent anomalies and contradictions in American attitudes toward booze: women soldiers of the temperance movement co-existing with matrons who chugged Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound (20.6% alcohol!) to alleviate their "female complaints"; the instant acceptance of women into the speakeasy, after they had been barred for decades from the saloon; and the absolutely decisive role of women in bringing about Prohibition's repeal, just they had been critical to its creation.
Read about the other books on the list.

The Page 99 Test: Daniel Okrent's Last Call.

--Marshal Zeringue