Cover: The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business, from Harvard University PressCover: The Age of Addiction in HARDCOVER

The Age of Addiction

How Bad Habits Became Big Business

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Product Details


$27.95 • £20.00 • €25.00

ISBN 9780674737372

Publication Date: 05/06/2019


336 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

24 photos

Belknap Press


[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.—Micah Meadowcroft, The American Conservative

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.—Lennard Davis, Times Higher Education

A fascinating history of corporate America’s efforts to shape our habits and desires.—Sean Illing, Vox

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.Publishers Weekly

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.—Deborah Rudacille, author of The Riddle of Gender

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.—Keith Humphreys, author of Circles of Recovery

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.—Daniel Lord Smail, author of On Deep History and the Brain

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.—Rod Phillips, author of Alcohol: A History

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.—William Rorabaugh, author of Prohibition: A Concise History

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.—Nancy D. Campbell, author of Discovering Addiction

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