“A mind-blowing tour de force that unwraps the myriad objects of addiction that surround us…Intelligent, incisive, and sometimes grimly entertaining.”
—Rod Phillips, author of Alcohol: A History
“A fascinating history of corporate America’s efforts to shape our habits and desires.”
We live in an age of addiction, from compulsive gaming and shopping to binge eating and opioid abuse. Sugar can be as habit-forming as cocaine, researchers tell us, and social media apps are deliberately hooking our kids. But what can we do to resist temptations that insidiously rewire our brains? A renowned expert on addiction, David Courtwright reveals how global enterprises have both created and catered to our addictions. The Age of Addiction chronicles the triumph of what he calls “limbic capitalism,” the growing network of competitive businesses targeting the brain pathways responsible for feeling, motivation, and long-term memory.
“Compulsively readable…In crisp and playful prose and with plenty of needed humor, Courtwright has written a fascinating history of what we like and why we like it, from the first taste of beer in the ancient Middle East to opioids in West Virginia.”
“A sweeping, ambitious account of the evolution of addiction…This bold, thought-provoking synthesis will appeal to fans of ‘big history’ in the tradition of Guns, Germs, and Steel.”
[A] compulsively readable book about bad habits becoming big business…In crisp and playful prose and with plenty of needed humor, Courtwright has written a fascinating history of what we like and why we like it, from the first taste of beer in the ancient Middle East to opioids in West Virginia.
A fascinating history of corporate America’s efforts to shape our habits and desires.
One admires the eclectic sweep of Courtwright’s catalogue of addictions, his sheer wealth of knowledge…As with all addictions, the book offers many pleasures and rewards.
A sweeping, ambitious account of the evolution of addiction…This bold, thought-provoking synthesis will appeal to fans of ‘big history’ in the tradition of Guns, Germs, and Steel.
An important addition to Courtwright’s groundbreaking work on the history of substance use disorders, this study of the accelerating ‘weaponization’ of pleasure—and the biological, social, and economic incentives that fuel excess—is compulsory reading for anyone wondering how addiction became the foremost public health problem worldwide. Deeply researched, intensely readable, and a sobering reminder of our vulnerability to bondage marketed as liberation.
The delight I took in reading this book can perhaps best be expressed by saying that I read it end-to-end in two sittings and might have done it in one if life hadn’t intruded. Courtwright’s erudition is astonishing, and his wit makes the book fun to read as well as informative.
Is limbic capitalism the tail that wags the dog? Is it a vital cog in a larger and more complex machine? Courtwright offers a powerful and compelling history of the changing forms of pleasure and addiction over the long span of human history. A bold and fascinating book, sure to generate much discussion.
A mind-blowing tour de force that unwraps the myriad objects of addiction that surround us daily. From alcohol to internet gaming, food to gambling, drugs to sex, Courtwright covers the globe over thousands of years. This intelligent, incisive, and sometimes grimly entertaining book will become the standard work on the subject.
This rich and rewarding book explores the long history of the global pleasure revolution. Alcohol, tobacco, drugs, commercialized food, gambling, and even the internet lean toward addiction, rooted in pleasure centers in the brain. Courtwright shows how today’s capitalism supplies those desires at an often frightful price.
Compelling and ingenious, this book deals the reader into a reality game where the crafty biology of pleasure meets what David Courtwright calls limbic capitalism. No one’s leveling up in the high-stakes game that is The Age of Addiction. The question is how you play, whether or not you can stop, and what happens when you do.
Offers dire warnings about our society…Courtwright has long been America’s leading voice on the history of drugs, and now he has shown how, in the world of limbic capitalism, addiction is promoted as a marketing tool for a wide variety of products, ones that guarantee customers, often for life.
- 336 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
From this author
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