London Dry: The Real History of Gin
Sub Category: Drink books
Author(s): Ted Bruning
Published: 17 January 2020
Format: Paperback 276 pages
Width (mm): 140
Height (mm): 210
Depth (mm): 16
The Real History of Gin is a befitting title for Ted Bruning’s book which questions the accepted history of gin, pretty much from the 4th Century BCE to the present day. It is an in-depth, bordering on academic, work filled with quotes and references to sources.
Ted challenges perceived interpretations of ‘fact’ and suggests conspiracy theories throughout, but the standout of the 16 chapters is chapter 7, “The Craze That Never Was,” in which he argues that London’s 18th Century gin craze was largely fabricated. Others, including myself on this very website, have compared the impact of gin on London’s deprived inner-city population to the effects of crack cocaine on modern-day inner-city ghettos. [History of gin 1728-1794]
Having read Ted’s well-researched arguments, I find myself in some agreement, although while “craze” may be overstated and many of the ‘facts’ supporting this craze theory taken out of context, it is evident that there were negative effects to providing almost limitless cheap gin to a population previously only used to weak beer.
It’s worth remembering that absinthe was blamed for making drinkers literally crazy in Paris at the start of the 20th century which was used as evidence to support it being banned by French presidential decree in January 1915. The real culprit was more likely to have been mental illness, epilepsy, and in some cases, even syphilis. Similar forces with ulterior motives to those that portrayed absinthe as the fall guy were perhaps lined up against gin. Buy London Dry: The Real History of Gin and decide on your point of view.