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A deep dive into the evolutionary science behind why humans love to get drunk, and how alcohol and other intoxicants catalyzed and shaped civilization.
Alcohol is tightly woven into the fabric of our lives. We use it to bond with friends and coworkers, and it’s a fixture at weddings, funerals, religious ceremonies, and just about every other social event imaginable. And this is true in spite of the fact that it’s really bad for us. Considering alcohol’s downsides — hangovers, reckless behavior, addiction, accidents, death — our continued enthusiasm for it is surprising. 
Prevailing scientific theories hold that our taste for intoxication is an evolutionary accident. But a closer look reveals that these accounts can’t be right. In Drunk, Edward Slingerland offers an alternative evolutionary history of our relationship with alcohol, arguing that its individual and social benefits have outweighed its costs, that civilization as we know it could never have developed without alcohol, and that intoxication continues to play a crucial role in the modern world.
Packed with fascinating case studies, engaging science, and practical takeaways for individuals and communities, Drunk is a captivating and long overdue investigation into humanity's oldest indulgence.

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews


Drunk is a punchy and stimulating intellectual cocktail that takes a fresh look at one of our species’ most puzzling obsessions—our routine consumption of sublethal dosages of a psychoactive poison. Despite a deep erudition that effortlessly weaves together history, anthropology, genetics, and chemistry, Slingerland’s book feels like a chat with an old friend over a couple of pints. You’ll learn a lot, but you won’t notice, because you’ll be so entertained.”
Joseph Henrich, author of The WEIRDest People in World and The Secret of Our Success.
“To understand why people drink is to tap into the very core of human experience. Professor Slingerland seamlessly weaves together observations from a dizzying array of disciplines across the sciences and humanities. In so doing, he provides provocative insights regarding why we prize drinking and offers practical suggestions about how we might drink responsibly and better integrate drinking and nondrinking members of society. Read the first few paragraphs and you will immediately realize that you are in for a truly engrossing and delightful read!  Read further and you also realize that you’re gaining a cutting-edge understanding of both the pleasures and the hazards of drinking. Slingerland has deftly managed to educate, surprise, and entertain while distilling a complex alcohol literature to address just why we humans drink to the point of intoxication.”
Michael Sayette, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, and Director of the Alcohol and Smoking Research Laboratory, University of Pittsburgh
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