Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization

Front Cover
Little, Brown, Jun 1, 2021 - Psychology - 304 pages
5 Reviews
Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified

An "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, Drunk 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. 


What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - caimanjosh - LibraryThing

Drunk is the most comprehensive volume on alcohol that I've yet seen. The author brings together various approaches to analyzing it that include neuroscience, anthropology, history, and public health ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - neurodrew - LibraryThing

I was intrigued immediately by the subtitle, and found the book to be as irreverent in its prose as the subtitle suggests, but full of information about neuroscience, history, and cultural rituals ... Read full review


Title Page
Why Do We Get Drunk?
Leaving the Door Open for Dionysus
Intoxication Ecstasy and the Origins
Intoxication in the Modern World
The Dark Side of Dionysus
About the Author

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2021)

Edward Slingerland is Distinguished University Scholar and Professor of Philosophy at the University of British Columbia, with adjunct appointments in Psychology and Asian Studies, as well as Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Evolution, Cognition and Culture and Director of the Database of Religious History.
Slingerland is the author of two trade books, Trying Not to Try (2014) and Drunk (2021), as well as multiple academic books, translations, and edited volumes. His work has been featured in major media outlets, and he has done numerous interviews on TV, radio, blogs, and podcasts, including NPR, the BBC, PBS, CNN, the CBC, and the Joe Rogan Experience.

Bibliographic information