... absorbing ... None of these claims by itself is new, but Mr. Slingerland’s book-length synthesis is original ... He isn’t always careful to distinguish what degree of intoxication is beneficial, overplaying the so-called delights of oblivion...Exactly what degrees of drunkenness benefit us matters because, as Mr. Slingerland acknowledges toward the end of his book, the fact that alcohol has served us well historically doesn’t mean that it continues to do so now ... Although Mr. Slingerland ultimately provides balance, most of the time his arguments read more like those of a defendant than an impartial judge. This leads him to add some dodgy data to his dossier ... Mr. Slingerland makes a compelling case that human societies have been positively shaped by alcohol, although the conclusion that 'we could not have civilization without intoxication' is too strong. It’s pure speculation to suggest that without liquor we’d not have found other ways to bond, build trust and alleviate stress. While it’s refreshing to see that demon drink has angelic qualities, the bitter truth is that its dark side now threatens to overshadow them. We may have started relaxing with Dr. Jekyll, but we risk ending up wasted with Mr. Hyde.
There is serious anthropology here, including the tantalizing theory that beer, not bread, was the stimulus for the agricultural revolution. Slingerland’s informal, conversational style weaves modern scientific studies with ancient mythology ... An illuminating yet conversational study that takes an anthropological approach to a widespread and often puzzling human behavior.
Authors praising booze come up with the damndest things,,,Slingerland, though, has no truck with drunky cuteness. He’s a scholar, with solid academic credentials and a professorial display of charts and statistics, which readers can comfortably skip but that do provide scientific and historical justification for a wealth of jarring and entertaining statements.