Alcohol is everywhere. Walk down any street in the Western world and before long your feet will kick against an empty beer can, or your attention will be captured by an alluring advertisement that suggests that alcohol can magically transform your life. Its use is integral to many aspects of popular culture, but it is also a substance that has at times been preached against and even prohibited.
In this book, Griffith Edwards uses both history and chemistry to explore the whole issue of alcohol. Is it a medicine, a delightful potion, a poison, or a mysterious combination of all three? What part has alcohol played in various cultures and religions? Why do different people behave differently when drunk? What cures for habitual inebriation were popular in the past? Why is alcoholism considered a disease? What is "safe drinking"? Is alcohol good for the heart? Do current treatments work? Does Alcoholics Anonymous have the answer?
Armed with the best solid information science, history, and sociology have to offer, Edwards asks how, in the light of this knowledge, society might in the future better handle this pleasure-giving, somewhat dangerous drug. Can society get its pleasure out of alcohol without the inevitable suffering that accompanies misuse? If so, what steps should we take to protect ourselves and others?