Drunk in China by Derek Sandhaus

Derek Sandhaus
Potomac Books (2019)
ISBN 9781640120976
Reviewed by Robert Leon Davis for Reader Views (02/2020)

“Drunk in China” takes readers on a spirited, entertaining journey through the lens of China’s favorite and often misunderstood drink, Baijiu. Author Derek Sandhaus illuminates Chinese history and contemporary life in his devoted quest to embrace and relish a traditional Chinese liquor. It’s not just about Baijiu, although it offers a master class on the subject. It’s about China and its history, culture, and relationship with the West, told through the perspective of a witty, generous storyteller.

China is one of the leading producers and consumers of liquor, with alcohol infusing all aspects of its culture, from religion and literature to business and warfare. Yet to the outside world, China most famous spirit, Baijiu, remains a mystery. This is about to change, as Baijiu is now being served in cocktail bars beyond its borders. “Drunk in China” follows the author’s journey of discovery into the world’s oldest drinking culture.

“Drunk in China” is a detailed history lesson on China’s formation, its people, culture, and lifestyles; all told through the country’s most favorite beverage and alcohol drink called Baijiu. I must admit that before reading this book, I said to myself, “What can a 250 plus page book tell you about a simple drink?” But I soon learned that Baijiu isn’t a simple drink! It’s China’s national drink and for good reason.

Observe these facts: 99 percent is consumed in China and served in every Chinese restaurant. It’s the largest, best-selling liquor in the world. There would be no China without the drink! This book went in my mind from being a question mark to one of the best books I’ve ever read! It’s more than about the drink but has fascinated me with China! I learned more from the author about history in general thank I learned in history class.

The writing style is very simple but very much suave. Every page has various little-known facts and information. “Drunk in China” was obviously very well researched. There is no rereading of a chapter or redundant information. I actually, while midway reading this book, was able to locate the drink. The best I can tell you of its taste is “mysterious.”  “Drunk in China” by Derek Sandhaus is a very fine book, delving into a very deep, charming, and informative subject. I highly encourage all serious readers of any subject or genre to get a copy. Easily 5 stars…

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