by W. J. Rorabaugh Oxford University Press 30 line cuts 224 pages, $13.95
Until 1830, Americans seem to have spent their days in an alcoholic haze. Practically everyone drank spirits regularly at home, starting at breakfast, and consumed startling amounts on every public occasion, including trials and quilting bees. In this well-documented book, Rorabaugh tells what our ancestors chose to drink and why they drank so much of it. He also traces the rise of the temperance movement, which, by the end of the 1830’s, had turned our sodden citizens into “the world’s most zealous abstainers.” A lively, surprising book.