“Rotskoff’s book is a must for those interested in the social history of alcohol in America.”

American Historical Review

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“[A] well-researched, well-written book. . . . Rotskoff uses stories, advertising, scientific studies, and movies to show how the relationship between men and women in the marital state is infused, informed, and interwoven with scientific, moral, and social beliefs about the use of alcohol.”

New England Journal of Medicine

“Original and perceptive. . . . Rotskoff has given us a wonderful book showing that it is possible to study family and gender relations dynamically and interactively while also illuminating other fields, in this case the cultural history of consumption practices.”

Women’s Review of Books

“Rotskoff offers a provocative analysis of the alcoholism movement, which illuminates the gender and family dynamics surrounding alcoholism and the larger historical context in which these issues took shape.”


“A lively account of the culture of drink—and the gendered tensions it encoded–across the twentieth century. Rotskoff shows that even as excessive drinking was defined as a disease, social drinking—’cocktail culture’—by both men and women became an integral part of the middle-class experience. Wide-ranging, engaging, and informative.”

Elizabeth Lunbeck, Princeton University

“Highly recommended. A brilliant read for all.”


Love on the Rocks

Men, Women, and Alcohol in Post-World War Two America

In this fascinating history of alcohol in postwar American culture, Lori Rotskoff draws on short stories, advertisements, medical writings, and Hollywood films to investigate how gender norms and ideologies of marriage intersected with scientific and popular ideas about drinking and alcoholism during the mid-twentieth century.

After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, recreational drinking became increasingly accepted among white, suburban, middle-class men and women. But excessive or habitual drinking plagued many families. How did people view the “problem drinkers” in their midst? How did husbands and wives learn to cope within an “alcoholic marriage?” And how was drinking linked to broader social concerns during the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War era?

By the 1950s, Rotskoff explains, mental health experts, movie producers, and members of self-help groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon helped bring about a shift in the public perception of alcoholism from “sin” to “sickness.” Yet alcoholism was also viewed as a family problem that expressed gender-role failure for both women and men. On the silver screen and on the printed page, in hospitals and at Twelve Step meetings, chronic drunkenness became one of the most pressing public health issues of the day.

Love on the Rocks is available in trade paperback.

View Love on the Rocks at The University of North Carolina Press.

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