Book Review - Proof
Proof – The Science of Booze
By Adam Rogers
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014
About the Author
Adam Rogers was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT before becoming the Articles Editor at WIRED. His feature story “The Angels’ Share” won the 2011 AAAS Kauli Science Journalism Award.
“Booze is civilisation in a glass.”
“Humans have been perfecting the science of alcohol production for ten thousand years, but modern scientists are only just beginning to distil the complex reactions behind the perfect buzz.”
The cover is relatively understated and unassuming, but cleverly blends the appearance of clinical science with the colloquialism of “booze”.
A concise hardback with good quality paper providing the ideal weight and accessibility.
I’m not a fan of books which simply list quotes of praise on the back rather than using the space to give an overview of their content.
“Rather than letting the marketers tell us what to think about the alcohol we drink,
science gives us a tool to understand it on our own terms.”
This book will take you on an alcoholic journey from microbial inception to the after effects on our minds and bodies.
What I Liked
Adam’s tone is immediately inviting and engaging; you feel like you’re having a discussion with an old friend rather than being lectured about science.
The amount of information in this book is staggering. It’s fantastic to have all aspects of alcohol addressed in one volume – from historical references, fermentation and aging methods to society’s perceptions, how it affects our bodies and our approach to it.
Proof really challenges you to think of the science behind social situations and our favourite liquid.
Adam pitches Proof at the perfect level. You will need some background knowledge of alcohol and its history, but everyone will learn an astounding amount too. It never feels simplistic – in fact there were several times I re-read paragraphs to ensure I fully understood the science and technicalities, but this made it feel truly beneficial.
What I Disliked
The only suggestion I can make is that maybe it would have been useful to include some diagrams of the molecular topics, but it works fine without them.
I cannot recommend Proof highly enough. Adam’s enthusiasm for the scientific aspects means you learn almost subliminally. His charismatic style puts the reader at ease and allows complex topics to be delved into with excitement and anticipation.
This isn’t just a book about liquid, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll learn about human interactions with alcohol, how easily influenced our brains are and the multiple layers alcohol seeps through in society.
Proof is in a league of its own.