Aspen Times Weekly Libation: ‘Drinking in America’

by LEANNE ITALIE for The Associated Press
This photo provided by Hachette Book Group shows the cover of the book, "Drinking in America," by author Susan Cheever. (Hachette Book Group via AP)
AP | Hachette Book Group


‘Drinking in America: Our Secret History’

Susan Cheever

272 pages; hardcover

Hachette Book Group, 2015

Drinking, and not drinking, is as old as America itself, from the beer-loving pilgrims on the Mayflower and Paul Revere’s boozy horse ride to Prohibition and the rise of Alcoholics Anonymous. Some nations drink more and some less, but nowhere do those two things collide and replay on a loop through history quite like they have in the United States, said Susan Cheever, who’s written “Drinking in America: Our Secret History.” Cheever was addicted to alcohol, as was her father, author John Cheever. She’s visited the subject of drinking in the past, and she’s been in love with history since a college professor inspired her. But this project, published in October by Twelve Books, was “really a eureka moment,” she said in a recent interview. Nobody has really gone deep enough into American history and booze, she said. “What about the fact that 100 years before Prohibition we were the drunkest country in the world, and what about the fact that in the 19th century, writers didn’t drink,” Cheever said. Her book is filled with detailed anecdotes and quirky, alcohol-fueled moments through time — find a few at in the entertainment section.