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Book Beat: February / March 2003

Bacchic Medicine: Wine and Alcohol Therapies from Napoleon to the French Paradox

by Harry W. Paul, Department of History
(Rodopi Bv Editions, 2003)
Available through Amazon

Nineteenth century Europe did not proclaim the "apple a day" adage, but could a glass of wine a day keep the doctor away?

"The ancient Greeks probably had it right—a little wine a day, with meals, is good for you," says Harry W. Paul, history professor emeritus. "It is good for the body and mind, not only as a preventive measure but perhaps as a cure for some diseases." With scientific and historical research to back his conclusion, Paul presents the age-old debate over alcohol as medical treatment in his new book, Bacchic Medicine.

Harry W. PaulFor his research, Paul spent time in the libraries and archives of Paris and in France's major wine cities—Bordeaux, Dijon and Reims. Medical documentation was found in famous medical journals, such as The New England Journal of Medicine. "That's what historians do, right? Look at a bunch of old stuff nobody else wants to look at," Paul says.

The topic of wine and alcohol came to Paul through his study of the history of science and particularly through writing his 1996 book, Science, Vine and Wine in Modern France. Though he had focused on France for so long, Paul was intrigued to learn that alcohol and wine therapies were more important historically in Great Britain.

Challenges to the idea of moderate consumption of alcohol, however, have produced heated medical debates despite evidence of wide historical acceptance of its benefits. "The benefit of drinking a moderate amount of wine with a meal is now accepted as a perfectly reasonable argument, backed up by clinical and epidemiological studies. So, we seem to have arrived back at the medical wisdom of the Hippocratic teachings."

—Kimberly A. Lopez

Amazon Sweet Sea: Land, Life and Water at the River's Mouth

Amazon Sweet Sea: Land, Life and Water at the River's Mouthby Nigel Smith, Department of Geography
(University of Texas Press, 2003)
Available through Amazon

So rich is this biological treasure house that early European explorers deemed it inexhaustible. In this highly readable book, Nigel Smith explores how human use of the Amazon's estuary's natural resources has been affected by technological change, rapid urban growth and accelerated, market integration. His findings underscore the importance of understanding the history of land use and the ecological knowledge of local people when formulating development and conservation policies. The book will be of interest to everyone concerned with the fate of tropical forests, conserving biodiversity and developing natural resources in a sustainable manner.

—Publisher

Projecting History: German Nonfiction Cinema, 1967-2000

Projecting History: German Nonfiction Cinema, 1967-2000by Nora M. Alter, Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies
(University of Michigan Press, 2003)
Available through Amazon

Between 1967 and 2000, film production in Germany underwent a number of significant transformations, including the birth and death of New German Cinema as well as the emergence of a new transnational cinematic practice. Nora M. Alter explores the relationship between German cinematic practice and the student protests in both East and West Germany against backdrops of the Vietnam War, terrorism in West Germany in the seventies, West Germany's rise as a global power in the eighties, and German reunification in the nineties.

—Publisher

The Presidency, Congress and Divided Government

The Presidency, Congress and Divided Governmentby Richard S. Conley, Department of Political Science
(Texas A&M University Press, 2003)
Available through Amazon

Can presidents hope to be effective in policy making when Congress is ruled by the other party? Conley argues persuasively that the conditions of "divided government" have changed in recent years, and he applies a rigorous methodology that allows the testing of a number of important assumptions about party control of the legislative process and the role of the president. Scholars of the presidency and those interested in the larger American political process will find in this book both food for thought and a model of analytic sophistication.

—Publisher

Conley recently edited Reassessing the Reagan Presidency and authored Florida 2002 Elections Update.

Photo:
Kimberly A. Lopez

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