Rum Maniacs: Alcoholic Insanity in the Early American Republic
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Edgar Allan Poe vividly recalled watching men mutilate the body of his mother, a terrifying but imaginary scene. It was a hallucination, part of his alcohol-induced delirium tremens – or DTs.
In a discussion of his new book, scholar Matthew Warner Osborn examines the medical and societal fascination two centuries ago with heavy drinking and drinkers, including Poe. Out of that grew the modern view of alcohol addiction as a psychic struggle with inner demons.
Osborn is an assistant professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Rum Maniacs is his first book.