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A Dark History of Gin (Hardback)

P&S History > By Century > 18th Century P&S History > Food & Drink P&S History > Social History

By Mike Rendell
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Series: A Dark History
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 20 mono
ISBN: 9781399070515
Published: 12th December 2022



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A Dark History of Gin looks at the origins and development of a drink which seems to have a universal and timeless appeal. Historian Mike Rendell explores the origins of distilling in the ancient world and considers the how, when, where and why of the ‘happy marriage’ between distilled spirits and berries from the juniper bush. The book traces the link between gin and the Low Countries (Holland and Belgium) and looks at how the drink was brought across to England when the Dutch-born William of Orange became king.

From the tragic era of the gin craze in eighteenth-century London, through to the emergence of ‘the cocktail’, the book follows the story of gin across the Atlantic to America and the emergence of the mixologist. It also follows the growth of the Temperance Movement and the origins of the Prohibition, before looking at the period between the First and Second World Wars – the cocktail age. From there the book looks at the emergence in the twentieth century of craft gins across the globe, enabling the drink to enjoy a massive increase in popularity.

The book is intended as a light-hearted look-behind-the-scenes at how ‘Mother’s Ruin’ developed into rather more than just a plain old ’G & T’.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As a gin drinker - my favourite tipple - this was an absolute must read.
This was so full of history and I would love to have a copy on my shelf.

NetGalley, Victoria Chant

This was a really interesting book and something that I'd love to keep on my shelf to go back to time and time again. Also great information to surprise your friends with over a G&T!

NetGalley, Crystal Lowery

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a really informative history of gin across the globe. There is a lot of well researched history spanning from the origins of gin, it's connections between Holland and England through William of Orange, through the tragic gin craze and prohibition in the US before the World Wars and more modern drinking. It shows how there is a colourful history of gin in the world, before the modern boom in popularity and a great tale of how there is so much more to a G&T!

NetGalley, Sara Gibson

As an avid gin lover this was a great book, full of history and learnings. Would love to have it on my shelf permanently.

NetGalley, Erinne Carey

This was an excellent book with a lot of research and entertaining writing from Mike Rendell.

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The History Fella

Aptly titled and remarkably researched. Each page illuminates another fascinating story that was probably never told or purposely forgotten.

Gin covers the last 500 years of its sordid past and ends with a post pandemic outlook. Rendell cleverly immerses the reader in every twist and turn.

Gin covers the early years of making the cheapest hooch to get the masses drunk at the lowest price, to governments trying to limit the drinking because they wouldn’t have enough able body men to fight wars, and then when the Temperance movement gained momentum with the church leading the governments then became concerned about the loss of tax revenues.

Capturing the hypocrisy of it all is Al Capone’s quote: “When I sell liquor, it's bootlegging. When my patrons serve it on a silver tray on Lakeshore Drive, it's hospitality.”

You do not need to be a Gin lover to appreciate this dynamic, colorful and raucous human story.

Brad Bartholomew

5 Stars

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Coffee & Books

When it says 'the dark history of gin' it really means it. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey of gin through time. An eye-opener and I learned many new facts. A good read.

NetGalley, Sarah luxton

This is a fascinating read. Seldom does one pour a glass and wonder about the origins of its contents. This book could change that.

The book uses a light-hearted tone to convey the compelling history of gin, including its many pseudonyms. The timeline nature makes it easy to follow, linking each period well with a seamless transition throughout.

NetGalley, Lucille Bleu

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book was wonderful and interesting.

I am a gin enthusiast. This being said, I am not a history buff by any means. Because of this, I was worried that I wouldn't enjoy it. I was worried that it would feel like reading a history textbook. While it times it did, I had to remind myself that, well, that is exactly what I was reading. However, through most of the book there was fact, but there was also the author's voice which made this engaging in a way that I wasn't expecting.

I work at a craft cocktail bar and this was the perfect read. The people who sit at my bar are excited to talk about alcohol. They, like myself, are excited to learn. This book's educational value gave me fun little snippets of information that I could share with my customers as they waited for their drinks.

I enjoyed the way the book was set up and timeline focused. It really showed the evolution of gin and helped me better understand how it became the spirit I enjoy today.

All around I was just so so so pleased with this book.

NetGalley, Carter Pennings

A Dark History of Gin by Mike Rendell is an enjoyable look at the checkered past of this popular drink. Highlighting both the development of the drink itself as well as the ways it influenced, and was influenced by, society.

The books I've read about gin, including The Weird and Wonderful Story of Gin, all cover some of the same ground but each approaches the spirit from a different perspective. In this volume I found the chapters on the various Gin Laws to be fascinating. Not so much the legal maneuvering but the ways that gin was blamed for things rather than whatever the actual causes were. Kinda like treating a symptom but neglecting the disease.

Whether this is the first book one reads about gin or one of several, I would recommend it as both informative and entertaining.

NetGalley, Jack Messer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

These days gin is very popular and seen be a sophisticated drink but that wasn't always the case.
This book explores why gin is known as mothers ruin etc
It's not just another book about gin this one is very well written and had me interested and I have read many books about gin.

NetGalley, Karen Bull

I enjoyed this book a lot. It had a lot of information, it has a good flowing writing style, so it’s easy and quick to read.

NetGalley, Edita Pil
 Mike Rendell

About Mike Rendell

Mike Rendell has written thirteen books, all of them about Georgian England. His interest in the period was inspired by a fascinating cache of papers left by his 18th century ancestors. His other books with Pen & Sword include: In Bed with the GeorgiansTrailblazing Women of the Georgian EraPirates & Privateers in the 18th CenturyCrusoe, Castaways and Shipwrecks in the Perilous Age of SailSex and Sexuality in Georgian Britain, and most recently Georgian Harlots and Whores.
When not writing, he spends his time talking on Georgian topics both in Britain and abroad, and in particular on board cruise ships. He travels extensively but his home is in Dorset.

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