Celebrated travel writer Lawrence Osborne's globe-trotting odyssey of inebriation and highly literate meditations on the role that alcohol plays in cultures throughout the world.
Is drinking alcohol "a sickness of the soul" as a group of young Muslim men in Bali inform Osborne, or the very reverse--a sign of civilization and sanity, as he has long believed it is? Where do different societies and their treatment of alcohol fall on the spectrum between indulgence and restraint? These questions launch the author on a journey to the far corners of the planet, most notably places in the Muslim Middle East and Far East where drinking is prohibited, but also places in the West where it is an important--yet too often ruinous--part of everyday life. Osborne's reflections on this theme, while simultaneously traversing and unraveling the stories of alcoholism in his own family, make for a provocative, sometimes unsettling work of travel literature that offers surprising insights on the contemporary world.