Winner of the 2021 William H. Welch Medal from the American Association for the History of Medicine.
The Age of Intoxication: Origins of the Global Drug Trade (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019) is a book about the transformations of drugs and the global drug trade in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries — and about how these changes, in turn, shaped the course of empires, fueled the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and transformed how early modern scientists, healers, religious leaders, and patients thought about their own bodies and minds.
From the sickly sweet tobacco that helped finance the African slave trade to the intoxicating hashish that East Indies merchants sold to the natural philosopher Robert Hooke in one of the earliest European coffeehouses, drugs have been entangled with both science and empire from the very beginning.
The figures central to the first half of the book are soldiers, missionaries, merchants and slaves in the Portuguese colonial empire. The second part builds upon the legacy of the Anglo-Portuguese alliance of 1662, arguing that the drive to amass drug-related knowledge and materials during the Enlightenment forged new links between British natural philosophers and the Iberian empires.
The Age of Intoxication rethinks a history of drugs that has too often been framed as binaries—between medicinal and recreational, legal and illegal, foreign and familiar.