Named a Best Science Book of 2014 by Amazon, Wired, the Guardian, and NBC
Winner of the 2014 Gourmand Award for Best Spirits Book in the United States
Finalist for the 2015 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
“Lively . . . [Rogers’s] descriptions of the science behind familiar drinks exert a seductive pull.” — New York Times
Humans have been perfecting alcohol production for ten thousand years, but scientists are just starting to distill the chemical reactions behind the perfect buzz. In a spirited tour across continents and cultures, Adam Rogers takes us from bourbon country to the world’s top gene-sequencing labs, introducing us to the bars, barflies, and evolving science at the heart of boozy technology. He chases the physics, biology, chemistry, and metallurgy that produce alcohol, and the psychology and neurobiology that make us want it. If you’ve ever wondered how your drink arrived in your glass, or what it will do to you, Proof makes an unparalleled drinking companion.
“Rogers’s book has much the same effect as a good drink. You get a warm sensation, you want to engage with the wider world, and you feel smarter than you probably are. Above all, it makes you understand how deeply human it is to take a drink.” — Wall Street Journal
"Our history with the stuff is our history on earth, a history of humans becoming modern, tool-using, technology-making creatures," writes Rogers, an articles editor at Wired and a former science/technology writer for Newsweek, who more than justifies that statement in this impressively reported and entertaining work. Alcohol and its related practices really do span human existence. The arrival of distillation some 2,000 years ago "gave rise to the modern study of chemistry," while "an economic ecosystem surrounding aged liquor represents a signal moment in the early Industrial Revolution, a mile marker on the road to a more civilized world." But like the story of us, the story of alcohol is incomplete scientists are still trying to identify what ethanol, a major component of alcohol, does to the body; only theories exist for what causes hangovers and at constant odds with the past. For example, technology exists that can artificially age whiskey and other spirits. The science here can be intimidating to process, but when enjoyed in leisurely sips, Rogers's cheeky and accessible writing style goes down smoothly, capturing the essence of this enigmatic, ancient social lubricant.
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Detailed & Entertaining
If you're even slightly curious about alcohol, Rogers will draw you in from page 1.