Review: Alcohol Explained

"If you have a problem with drinking, you should read this book. It might give you some practical hope. If you drink, but don’t think you have a problem, you should read this book. Perhaps it might show you the wisdom of Proverbs: (Pr 20:1)" - Don Johnson

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Bert Perry's picture

Don, there's a reason this is self-published, and it's because reputable publishers wouldn't touch it.  As I looked at the first couple of chapters, what I noticed was that the author, a lawyer by training, is opining on issues that are essentially scientific and medical with no footnotes or references.  I won't go into them in depth, but I also noted a number of basic factual errors on his part.  One good one is the notion that cigarette smoke is absorbed directly by large blood vessels.  In reality, transfer of oxygen, poisons, drugs, and such through the lungs occurs through the capillaries.The walls of larger blood vessels are simply too thick to allow this transfer.

I'm glad that the author found something that helped him get the monkey of problem drinking/alcoholism off his back, and from my quick look at his bio, it looks like he got that monkey while young and carried it for a while.  But from the chapters he shared, I really don't think his book has a lot to tell us.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Don Johnson's picture

by hundreds of reviewers on Amazon.

Perhaps you need the book more than you think.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

Don, you could tell me about a billion glowing reviews on Amazon, and it would not change the fact that the man's training gives him no particular expertise on the subject, and it would not change the fact that he's not establishing his points with evidence.  As a pastor, this should bother you.  For that matter, even if the author were a world renowned expert from somewhere like Johns Hopkins or Mayo, it should still bother you that he doesn't support his points with evidence.  That's what real experts do.

And again, it's even worse because the short little part I read contains some glaring errors of fact, some of which are well known to anyone who paid attention in health class in high school, or who learned a smattering of human anatomy.  

Waste time on this?  Life is short, brother, and I've got a Savior who attended this wedding at Cana and helped provide for it spectacularly.  Just because someone became a former drunkard and has an axe to grind does not mean believers ought to ignore the second chapter of John.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dgszweda's picture

I personally don't drink.  But I know many people who do.  Out of those that I know who do drink, many drink in moderation with no perceived issues.  I have another set of individuals that I know who struggle with drinking.  Both of these sets of friends had no idea where they would end up once they started drinking.  Some of these individuals that I know who struggle with drinking wish they had never touched it.  With all of that said, taking up drinking is a serious decision and should not be looked at lightly.  I read the first few chapters and they seemed good.  Maybe this could be a good resource for some people.  If you drink and have no issues great.  I have too much history of alcoholism in my family (including deaths from it) that I have chosen to avoid it.  Besides, I am struggling to get off of my Diet Pepsi addiction.  If I am having problems with Pepsi, I am glad I haven't gotten involved with alcohol.

dcbii's picture


Bert Perry wrote:

Just because someone became a former drunkard and has an axe to grind does not mean believers ought to ignore the second chapter of John.

Bert, I'm sympathetic to your idea that no matter who is doing the arguing, good supporting evidence should be presented.  That's the best approach with me as well.  I've read a number of these types of books in different areas, like "Why I left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement," and other similar books, and I've found many of them unconvincing, for just the reasons you said.  (For that particular work, I say that as someone who already is not a fan of CCM.)

Having said that, I also realize, having talked to many people in my >50 years of life, that the "evidentiary" approach is not what works with everyone.  I'm also hesitant to simply write off authors just because their approach is not what would convince me, because their path was obviously helpful to them (and sometimes to others).  Yes, authors have a point to make, but calling it "an axe to grind," while perhaps technically accurate, is also prejudicial.  (Caveat -- I haven't read the work under discussion.  I'm just going on the review and comments by others.)

For a book that doesn't convince me, unless it is obviously in contradiction to scripture (and that hardly applies to those with problems with alcohol giving it up, even if all alcohol use is not universally decried in scripture), rather than denigrating such works, I just don't use them personally.  If I have read them, I might even recommend one of them to someone that I know would respond better to that approach, perhaps even giving a caveat about the book, just as I would with any book I might recommend.

Personal journeys of deliverance from things that have hurt the author are just that -- personal.  Giving advice based on personal experience is common, and I respect people who with God's help (even if they aren't Christian and don't recognize it) have been successful even when what worked for them wouldn't help me at all.  That's one of the reasons I enjoy hearing people's personal testimonies.  They came to Christ often for completely different reasons than I did, and if I had walked their path, I might have gone away from God rather than to him.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

Dave, I'm very troubled at what you state there, because it strikes me that while a good portion of what you say is true, we tolerate it when people use "something else than evidence", and then we are shocked, shocked when they take that attitude to, say, COVID vaccines and start trusting "InfoWars" and the like above recognized authorities.  

There's a point where we simply need to respect the basic rules of discourse, and "provide evidence" is key, especially when one is a pastor speaking of how the book ought to be read by his congregation.  You can't endorse sloppy thinking and writing in one area and expect people to think clearly in others--you will have trained them to do it wrong, after all.

And in light of the failure to provide evidence, along with some pretty significant errors in fact, shows that the author--a trained lawyer who also ought to understand the need for evidence--has not written a serious work, but rather is (understandably) writing more or less a polemic against the monkey he had on his back.  Or, he's got an axe to grind, and yes, I mean that in its prejudicial meaning.  He should know better.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.