A Brief History of Vice: How Bad Behavior Built Civilization
The author, Robert Evans, takes the reader on a roller coaster re-look at the origins of some of our familiar institutions, customs, and, more pointedly, our vices. He posits that a lot of what we call civilization is really an outgrowth of substances and behaviors we now ban. Did tobacco fuel the colonization of America? Was continually being drunk on beer the only way to avoid dysentery? Did magic mushrooms initiate the first stirrings of religion? Did the ancient Greeks gain insight by being high? Is too much alcohol and drugs fatal to a civilization? Are we really hardwired to want artificial highs? This book does not answer these questions in a scholarly manner; instead, the author recreates the substances of older times and experiments on himself and friends. The book cannot be taken seriously. There are no references, footnotes, or authorities other than the author. Statements such as that Hitler was a meth addict or that aggressive, anti-social behavior is the most genetically successful need more than opinion to be accepted as truth. The book is also written coarsely; seemingly the author feels that if foul language can be used, it most certainly should be used. He makes sure to break up even his most serious thoughts with vulgarity. I do not suggest this book for any serious consideration. That seems to have been the author’s intent.