The Drunken Monkey: Why We Drink and Abuse Alcohol

The Drunken Monkey: Why We Drink and Abuse Alcohol

by Robert Dudley

Hardcover(First Edition)

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Alcoholism, as opposed to the safe consumption of alcohol, remains a major public health issue. In this accessible book, Robert Dudley presents an intriguing evolutionary interpretation to explain the persistence of alcohol-related problems. Providing a deep-time, interdisciplinary perspective on today’s patterns of alcohol consumption and abuse, Dudley traces the link between the fruit-eating behavior of arboreal primates and the evolution of the sensory skills required to identify ripe and fermented fruits that contain sugar and low levels of alcohol. In addition to introducing this new theory of the relationship of humans to alcohol, the book discusses the supporting research, implications of the hypothesis, and the medical and social impacts of alcoholism.

The Drunken Monkey is designed for interested readers, scholars, and students in comparative and evolutionary biology, biological anthropology, medicine, and public health.

Editorial Reviews

Science Times

"Moving forward with his research into the subject, Dudley's book is but a mere preview to his ongoing work in the field, which will help better develop his working hypothesis. Hoping to bring in an evolutionary perspective, and the behavior seen in our close relatives, Dudley continues to search for closer empirical evidence that may help in future addiction treatment for clinicians of the debilitating disease."


"The well-organized, highly informative, and lucidly detailed work is an example of excellent scientific writing."

The Australian


The Quarterly Review of Biology

"Clear and engaging."

American Journal of Human Biology

"A great example of the use of evolutionary theory and principles to illuminate causality in human behavior. . . . The first half of the book elaborating the ecology of flowering plants and frugivores is worth the price of admission alone, and this book will be a great addition to undergraduate or graduate evolutionary ecology course reading lists."


"Well constructed and clearly written."

The Quarterly Review of Biology - Richard Wrangham

"Clear and engaging."

The Australian - Max Allen


Library Journal

Dudley (integrative biology, Univ. of California-Berkeley; research associate, Smithsonian Tropical Research Inst.; The Biomechanics of Insect Flight) proposes the "drunken monkey" hypothesis as the evolutionary basis for alcoholism. The author contends that alcohol naturally produced in fermented fruit acts as a long-distance signal to an available food source, rewarding hunter-gatherers who followed the signal with the benefits of low-level alcohol consumption as well as caloric gain. Dudley argues that there is now a biological mismatch as the prevalence of alcohol means that the once-beneficial predisposition to consume it can lead to excess intake. He summarizes research on the manner in which fruit flies and mammals partake of natural alcohol sources and explains the genetic differences between fruit flies and humans that can drastically affect the metabolism of alcohol. Though Dudley's work does not directly impact the treatment of alcoholism, he suggests avenues for future research that could improve our understanding of the biological causes of the condition and possibly lead to more effective solutions. VERDICT This persuasive and engaging book will interest students and scholars of biology and evolutionary medicine; it offers a new viewpoint when compared with Mark E. Rose and Cheryle J. Cherpitel's Alcohol: Its History, Pharmacology, and Treatment.—Laurie Neuerburg, Victoria Coll.-Univ. of Houston Lib.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520275690
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 05/01/2014
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 184
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

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