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Publisher's Summary

A "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, Slingerland 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. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2021 by Edward Slingerland. (P)2021 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

What the critics say

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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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • S. Miller
  • 2021-06-06

Save yourself, don't get the audiobook!

For the love of everything that is good and holy in this world, I beg of you, SKIP the audio version.

I have been an avid audible subscriber for many years now, and this is only the second review that I have ever taken the time to write, simply because it was THAT bad.

I believe in doing my civic duty as a good human in warning others with this review.

I normally listen at 1.5 speed, but I had to advance this to 2.0 speed JUST to make the sentences flow better. The narrator reads every sentence in short, choppy spurts and there is no fluid cohesion. There is little tonal inflection and the words come out as dry as bark dust. I got a headache while listening to it (Causation? Maybe. Correlation? Definitely.)

I was SO damn excited about this book, and the content IS stellar.

Go get a root canal, watch the same episode of Blippy with your kid for the millionth time, wait at the DMV...any ONE of those things is better than listening to this audiobook.

The audio version of "Drunk" will make you wish you were.

15 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Rubia
  • 2021-06-02

Robotic narrator

The subject and content of the book are good but the reader is TERRIBLE. He’s robotic and boring. It was hard to get through and I wish I had read the print version instead.

13 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • James Theel
  • 2021-06-09

Wrong Narrator

I bought this after listening to the author on JRE. Great content but dreadfully monotone delivery.

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Lu
  • 2021-06-19

Narration is atrocious

The content of this book is interesting and should be a great read for me. I have about an hour and a 1/2 left and I think I'm going to take a break from it. Something is wrong with this recording. The guy's voice is all right but it sounds like it's recorded through a 1970s phone line or an old cassette recorder, Some of the color is missing.
The dry style of narration can work but there must be a change in tone when there are punchlines or ironic statements at the end of serious chapters. This just drones on like a refrigerator motor.
This should be re recorded.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Will Blakey
  • 2021-06-11

Fun read

This book is awesome. A very balanced perspective on the role that alcohol should play in our lives. I love the evolutionary insights about why we have wanted to get drunk for so long and continue to despite the costs. The book is wonderfully written, and yes the narrator speed is kindof annoying but if you speed up the narration speed you won’t even notice. Great read!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Robyn Jackins
  • 2021-06-20

Interesting book about alcohol

Great read/listen but play at 1.5 speed and it flows very well. History about drinking alcohol and cultural information. Chapter 5 is the dark side so depending on why you’re reading, chapter 5 might be the best.

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  • Stephanie
  • 2021-06-18

Very fun listen.

My favorite thing about the book is that the Edward sets up amazing points on both sides of the spectrum but forces to really challenge your stance the whole time.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Dawn R Reinhardt
  • 2021-06-15

Exactly what we needed

The narrator is a little robotic, but if you listen at 1.5x you get used to it. Worth listening for the content!