Sunday, September 30, 2012

Book review - America Walks into a Bar

Every once in a while (usually when I'm flying on a beercation or waiting for the wort to boil), I read a book. Usually, it takes me 3-6 months to finish one, but America Walks Into a Bar took me just a long weekend plus a couple of extra days, for around 280 pages.

Christine Sismond's rollicking little book is basically the history of America, as told from the perspective of the country's taverns, saloons, speakeasies, and bars. To a great extent, America's history is the history of its taverns, saloons, speakeasies, and bars, as well as its brewers, moonshiners, rum-runners, and barstool jockies. Many great events and social movements were planned in bars, and beer, cider, whiskey, and rum are often the lubricants, the context, or the villains of American history.

The final chapters on the alcohol's and bar's roles in the civil rights movements for women, African Americans, and gays go by a little too quickly, and I think that Sismond could've spent a little more time on the events that last couple of decades - the rise of craft brewing, wine, spirits, and cocktails - but overall it was a very fun read.

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