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Summary

A "entertaining and enlightening" deep dive into the alcohol-soaked origins of civilization—and the evolutionary roots of humanity’s appetite for intoxication. (Daniel E. Lieberman, author of Exercised)

While plenty of entertaining books have been written about the history of alcohol and other intoxicants, none have offered a comprehensive, convincing answer to the basic question of why humans want to get high in the first place. 

Drunk elegantly cuts through the tangle of urban legends and anecdotal impressions that surround our notions of intoxication to provide the first rigorous, scientifically grounded explanation for our love of alcohol. Drawing on evidence from archaeology, history, cognitive neuroscience, psychopharmacology, social psychology, literature, and genetics, Slingerland shows that our taste for chemical intoxicants is not an evolutionary mistake, as we are so often told. In fact, intoxication helps solve a number of distinctively human challenges: enhancing creativity, alleviating stress, building trust, and pulling off the miracle of getting fiercely tribal primates to cooperate with strangers. Our desire to get drunk, along with the individual and social benefits provided by drunkenness, played a crucial role in sparking the rise of the first large-scale societies. We would not have civilization without intoxication. 

From marauding Vikings and bacchanalian orgies to sex-starved fruit flies, blind cave fish, and problem-solving crows, Drunk is packed with fascinating case studies and engaging science, as well as practical takeaways for individuals and communities. The result is a captivating and long overdue investigation into humanity's oldest indulgence—one that explains not only why we want to get drunk, but also how it might actually be good for us to tie one on now and then. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2021 by Edward Slingerland. (P)2021 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic reviews

"Absorbing...Slingerland makes a compelling case that human societies have been positively shaped by alcohol.”―The Wall Street Journal

“A spirited look at drinking”―Kirkus

“A witty and well-informed narrator, Slingerland ranges across a wide range of academic fields to make his case. Readers will toast this praiseworthy study.”―Publishers Weekly 

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  • Bev A.
  • 10-10-21

The equivalent of Harvey Weinstein writing a book why male dominated workplaces thrive

Appreciate the history and explanation how low BAC drinking historically was.
and irresponsibly written and edited as a celebration of getting drunk with only a squeezed in mention of health, financial and social impact of drinking. Actually states “men, women and alcohol don’t mix”. This is a misogynists dream to celebrate drinking. The authors only evidence that drinking is beneficial is that Google has alcohol at work. No research. Just anecdotal and dangerous reference.

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  • Oliver Naaris
  • 26-09-21

Interesting concepts but bit long and repetitive

Honestly listening to this book feels like a chore. An editor should have removed most of the repetitive parts and kept it short and interesting.