Hideous Absinthe offers a nicely balanced look at the history, facts, and mythos of absinthe. Adams offers reader an in-depth look at the role absinthe has played in artistic culture (especially that of the 19th century), and succeeds in doing this without taking sides. Among other issues, Adams attempts to clarify what level of influence absinthe had upon artists such as Degas, Manet, Van Gogh, and Picasso. He also looks at the effects of bohemian culture, temperance movements and European politics on absinthe’s reputation.
He works to separate fact from fiction, recognizing that claims made about an intoxicating substance (whether pro or con) are often motivated by complex reasons other than the truth. The result is a sort of deflation of absinthe hype from all angles. Overall, Hideous Absinthe is a well-referenced, balanced, and in-depth study of the roots of absinthe’s reputation.
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