The People of the Bottle
The title of Marni Davis’s Jews and Booze turns out to be the only playful thing about the book, the only place Davis lets herself have fun—and a book about drinking should allow for a little fun. You wait for it, and wait for it, but it never comes. What you get instead is a deeply serious, respectably sober investigation into the intertwined stories of American Jews and demon rum, too academic for the nature of the grape, perhaps, but interesting nonetheless.
The story begins with the first Hebrew sleeping with a calf skin of wine under a terebinth tree, his mind filled with talking donkeys and sacrificed sons, a career of vice recorded in the oldest books of the Bible: in Genesis, when Noah “drank of the wine, and was drunken, and was uncovered within his tent”; in Psalms, when “the Lord awaked [one] as out of sleep, like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine.”
About the Author
Rich Cohen is the author of Tough Jews and Sweet and Low, among other books. His new book, The Fish That Ate the Whale, is a biography of the Jewish banana tycoon Samuel Zemurray.