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Proof: The Science of Booze [Audiobook] [MP3 CD]

Adam Rogers
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
RRP: 21.20
Price: 19.79 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Hardcover 12.79  
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MP3 CD, Audiobook 19.79  

Product details

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks; MP3 Una edition (27 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1482994828
  • ISBN-13: 978-1482994827
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 13.5 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,355,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 15 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very enjoyable: scientifically sound while hugely entertaining treatment of practically all aspects of alcohol.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you're interested in the booze and how it's made, this is a great read. A perfect overview of the science without being academic.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  57 reviews
52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The science and the magic of booze 18 April 2014
By Angie Boyter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you want to amaze your friends at the neighborhood pub or the next cocktail party, this book has all the right ingredients. In Proof: The Science of Booze, Kavli Science Journalism Award winner and first-time author Adam Rogers covers everything you can imagine about the subject. There are chapters on the science and history of yeast in the production of alcoholic beverages, the role of sugar, the processes of fermentation, distillation, and aging, the biochemistry of smell and taste, the effects of booze on the body, and the causes, prevention, and cure of hangovers. Rogers’ research was exhaustive; the bibliography is more than 13 pages long, and his travels took him from the ultra-exclusive New York cocktail bar Booker and Dax to Glen Ord Maltings in Muir of Ord, Scotland, to the San Francisco Brain Research Institute. The research was impressive, until Rogers described the “experiment” where he and two friends got totally blotto in order to test the effectiveness of some recommended hangover cures, at which point I decided his devotion to his subject had gone above and beyond.
So why only 3 stars? It’s not what he said; it’s how he said it. Rogers is an editor at Wired magazine, and Proof apparently grew out of a Wired article, The Angel’s Share, about the Canadian whiskey fungus. Proof is written in the same Wired style, and it just doesn’t work as well here. Wired often takes a light tone liberally laced with witty comments, which I normally enjoy, but the humor here often comes across as forced. Also the author will drop witticisms into the middle of an extended serious scientific description, where it seems out of place. The book also seems disorganized. There is a topic for each chapter, and the author covers a number of items under that topic without good transitions. For example, the chapter on Sugar talks about a 19th-century Japanese scientist named Jokichi Takamine who developed a process to replace malting in distilling whiskey. It says, "He was on the cusp of a new world of booze, but the Old World wasn't quite ready to let go yet." The next paragraph launches into a 5-page description of a present-day Scotch whiskey malting operation and how it operates. The book suddenly leaves that topic and jumps to a discussion of koji, the fungus that produces sake. My reaction is, "So what happened to Takamine's process?" Eventually the chapter gets back to Takamine and his process, but all it says is "it never really took off", hardly a very satisfying conclusion. In some chapters, the author leaves a subject abruptly and never does return to it. These kinds of problems are much less likely to occur in a shorter magazine article. Although Roagers has won prizes for his journalism, this is his first full-length book, and he hasn't quite made a successful transition to the longer format.
If you are very strongly attracted to the subject of booze or the style is not an issue for you, you will probably enjoy Proof. Otherwise, perhaps you should accompany your reading with a good stiff drink.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining history of alcohol 24 April 2014
By a scientist - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Full disclosure: I saw the author give a talk on this subject at a conference about a year ago. The talk was a little better because this author is an outstanding public speaker and merely a very good writer. So, what of the fruits of his labor? Has the author managed to distill the essence of boozy knowledge into a coherent creation or a delirious foment?

Well the good news is that this is an entertaining book that is easy to recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in wine, beer, or spirits. It's written to be read, not used as a reference book. The narrative, such as it is, is loosely organized into chapters that deal with specific facets of booze. Chapter one is about yeast. As a former yeast biochemist, I can say that it was one of the most accessible chapters written on one of my favorite organisms, yet I definitely learned a few things. However, I'm not convinced that everything I learned is absolutely accurate. The book is clearly much better researched than the average blog post but is it up to reference standards? If your reference standard is wikipedia, it probably is.

Chapter 2 is another strong chapter about sugar. Chapters 3 and 4 handle fermentation and distillation, and these highlight the weakness of the book's organization: how can you discuss fermentation without discussing yeast? Well, it's hard and it doesn't quite happen. Instead, the author's passion and enthusiasm clouds the narrative and he ends up switching topics so many times that it's hard to follow the thread. The next few chapters are occasionally choppy accounts of aging and smell/taste. The final couple of chapters are all about alcohol's effect on the body and brain, with an entire chapter devoted to hangovers. Much more time is spent discussing getting drunk (how exactly does that work?) and curing a hangover than exploring alcohol's impact on society, whether positive or negative.

But what it lacks in comprehensiveness, it makes up for with gusto! Even though I got a little lost in several chapters, it was usually because there were just too many interesting facts to cram in. This book is chock-full of fascinating tidbits of information, including the origins of the term 'bain-marie' (a type of double boiler) with side references to almost everything from British sailors to the Library of Alexandria. Perhaps it's fair to say the mixology on display slowed me down a bit, but didn't really affect my overall enjoyment of this slightly dizzying concoction. It does explain the deduction of a single star, though.

This book isn't perfect, but the author's passion and enthusiasm have created a book that's both entertaining and interesting. When it is finally released, I will recommend it to friends and buy at least one copy for my Dad. And if I ever see the author again, I'll buy him a drink.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Proof 12 April 2014
By Matthew K. Morgan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Long-time readers of Wired will quickly recognize the style, depth, and tone of Proof. Astute ones may recall the article that this book grew from: "The Angel's Share", which makes up a significant portion of the chapter on aging. The subtitle of this book, "The Science of Booze", could just as accurately be "A Memoir About Booze". Rogers firmly inserts himself into the book as he takes the reader on a journey of exploration through the world of alcohol. All the strengths and weaknesses of this approach come through in this book.

The scope of Proof is truly ambitious. Rogers begins with the cultivation and domestication of yeast, walks through the chemistry and types of sugars, ferments them, distills and ages the result, and then describes their effects on the body (both pleasant, such as smell and taste, and the less savory consequences like drunkenness and hangovers). My copy of the book only goes to 212 pages before the notes and bibliography, and that's a prodigious amount to cover in so few pages. I found that the chapters with material that I was already somewhat familiar with didn't hold enough new information to hold my interest. On the other hand, the light tone did make it easier for me to read the chapters which were farther outside my existing knowledge. I'd definitely say that the book is better for those who are less familiar with the ins and outs of brewing. While the chapters followed a definite progression, they didn't build on one another as much as I'd like. I normally would feel compelled to read a book like this straight through, but I found that I would put it down once I finished up each chapter.

There's one tidbit which left a sour taste in my mouth, and probably kept the book from getting a fifth star from me. In that chapter on aging, Rogers reveals that he fudged a relatively minor detail in his Wired article on how he and the mycologist obtained a fungal sample. Knowing that he deliberately changed the facts in his writing for Wired leads me to wonder how many of the conversations and stories in this book were massaged for the sake of a better narrative. It doesn't affect the science I learned about, but it did factor into my overall enjoyment of the book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Comprehensible 15 May 2014
By Grandma - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Let me start with a disclaimer. I am a medical scientist, one who went back to university in my late thirties with every intention of becoming a nurse, only to find that I had fallen in love with microbiology. The science of booze is all about microbiology - with a little anatomy and physiology thrown in for good measure. It is also, by the way, the same science as the science of bread and the science of yogurt. Everything is all about the fermentation.

For me, Proof: The Science of Booze just missed the mark a bit. It leaves certain burning questions unanswered, isn't always exactly accurate and the tone was a bit off-putting. Still, it is a reasonably comprehensible and interesting discussion for the layman with an interest in the subject.

Your call.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Book 24 Jun 2014
By RWK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As others have noted, after reading the book I was left questioning the accuracy of what the author had written as facts in a few places. One of the most obvious mistakes was on page 12 of the Introduction (Kindle edition) where he states that in Scotland they spell whisky without the “e” but in Canada and the United States they spell it with the “e”. I would think that anyone very familiar with whiskies would know that Canada normally spells whisky without the “e” as they do in Scotland and Japan. With a few exceptions, they generally spell whiskey with the “e” in the United States and Ireland. A simple mistake like that makes one wonder what other mistakes the author has made. While reading the book I was left with the impression that the author was more concerned about being humorous than necessarily being factual, although he gives the impression that what he is presenting is technically accurate. I should note that I have a technical background, which probably led to me questioning the accuracy of some of the author’s statements. With that said, the book presents a lot of technical information but in a way that is entertaining. If you enjoy reading about whiskies, then you would probably enjoy this book. But I would be hesitant to take what the author states literally without verifying it from a reliable source. Personally, I would read the book more for the entertainment value and view it’s accuracy in the same way that you would a conversation with your friends as you sit around enjoying a dram of whisky.
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