Why are we so ambivalent about alcohol? Are we torn between our love of a drink and the need to restrict, or even prohibit, alcohol? How did saloon culture arise in the United States? Why did wine become such a ubiquitous part of French culture? Alcohol: A Social and Cultural History examines these questions and many more as it considers how drink has evolved in its functions and uses from the late Middle Ages to the present day in the West. Alcohol has long played an important role in societies throughout history, and understanding its consumption can reveal a great deal about a culture. This book discusses a range of issues, including domestic versus recreational use, the history of alcoholism, and the relationship between alcohol and violence, religion, sexuality, and medicine. It looks at how certain forms of alcohol speak about class, gender and place.Drawing on examples from Europe, North America and Australia, this book provides an overview of the many roles alcohol has played over the past five centuries.