A Dark History of Gin by Mike Rendell

A Dark History of Gin by Mike Rendell* is a great book, a fantastic addition to the Dark History series by Pen & Sword. I think this one is one of the best in the series if not the best. It covers a wide range of topics, from laws to cocktails. There are snippets from what politicians said, what they fought of the problems raised by gin, the connections between the need to raise funds for government and the health of the nation. The topic of personal responsibility is hinted at, especially in the Temperance Movement era.
One example I loved reading was about a nanny that lost the child through neglect and the judge’s comments on it. It was so telling about different views on who was to blame, the person or the addiction.

A Dark History of Gin by Mike Rendell

It is a mix of stories with an overview of the laws relating to Gin from the 18th century (there were quite a few of them). There were details on different brands and how they started. The story starts with the origins of distilling in the ancient world, followed by the specificities of gin.

The gin craze of the 18th century London is covered, in which he included quite a few primary sources, which was fantastic. Cocktails and the origin of the name is talked and how gin got to US. Although the Temperance Movement and the origins of the Prohibition are covered too. For a short book it is packed with details. The situation during the wars in the 20th century is presented too, briefly, but interestingly. I liked how he included so many different things, including some recipes for cocktails at the end of the book.

This is the second book I read by Rendell, with the first being Sex and Sexuality in Georgian Britain, another book I loved.

A Dark History of Gin by Mike Rendell

Details about the picture: with a glass of Gin, of course
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes
Published by: Pen & Sword History
Year it was published: 2022
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): History
Pages: 208

About the author: Mike Rendell has written thirteen books, all of them about Georgian England. His interest in the period was inspired by a fascinating cache of papers left by his 18th century ancestors. His other books with Pen & Sword include: In Bed with the Georgians, Trailblazing Women of the Georgian Era, Pirates & Privateers in the 18th Century, Crusoe, Castaways and Shipwrecks in the Perilous Age of Sail, Sex and Sexuality in Georgian Britain, and most recently Georgian Harlots and Whores.
Website & Social Media Links: Pen and Sword

*I was sent a copy of A Dark History of Gin by Mike Rendell for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.



4 thoughts on “A Dark History of Gin by Mike Rendell”

  • I don’t care for gin, but that probably wouldn’t matter as far as enjoying the book. I have her “sex & sexuality” book waiting in my Kindle.
    Kelly recently posted…Mardi Gras 2023My Profile

    • I agree, gin is not my first choice, but I loved the book, the stories are so interesting. I also discovered some gin I enjoy, so it’s a win-win. 🙂

  • I never knew that there was a ‘gin craze’ in Britain in the 18th Century, so perhaps reading one or two of the short stories would be quite entertaining, although I probably wouldn’t want to plow through the entire book. I have to admit that I don’t really drink much alcohol, however the occasional gin or vodka can be quite enjoyable, although I only like it made a specific way – with fresh orange juice and a slice of orange, but no ice – weird I know, but that’s me 🙂
    Yvonne @Fiction_Books recently posted…Her First Child by Sheryl Browne ReviewMy Profile

    • The gin craze was huge, riots, incredible cases of neglect. For me the whole book was entertaining. With a chronological approach you can dip in and out of it, if you fancy reading it.
      I’m not into gin, as I prefer red wine or whiskey. I have some granite cubes I use for whiskey instead of ice. Orange works nicely, I agree. xx

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