Mark Forsyth’s A Short History of Drunkenness is a light-hearted tour. Mr. Forsyth, a British journalist and blogger, takes his readers on a fast and furious ride, often deviating from the perpendicular to the horizontal, sallying from Sumerian and Egyptian drinking then on and on ... For a history of drunkenness, this book contains surprisingly few scenes of debauchery, but this also might be for the best. Rather, Mr. Forsyth has filled a cabinet of drinking curiosities, which plays to the author’s strength ... Mr. Forsyth often resorts to a cartoonish rendering of history, which is probably unavoidable when covering a span of history from the stone age to last night in a little over 200 small-format pages ... His breezy style does offer another tangible benefit.
...a brisk, witty, and roughly chronological précis on drinking cultures ... Using humor to skim over the violence and sadness of alcohol abuse, the author specializes in snappy summaries and choice anecdotes ... While his coverage can be glib and occasionally unbalanced...Forsyth’s rollicking sketches belie the extensive research that informs them. He offers a solidly embedded history ... Forsyth's account is as ribald and casual as that of a teenage tour guide working for tips, but it’s full of good history and good humor ... The ideal companion for an idle hour.
...an entertaining jaunt through intoxication... with equal parts enlightening data and delightful color commentary ... While some of the material covered will be familiar, Forsyth also includes some lesser-known details ... Forsyth’s clever sense of humor and flair for perceiving subtle historical ironies make for livelier and more amusing reading than any cold recitation of facts.