James Graham's book is about the damage caused by alcoholism: human behavior at its ugliest and most frightening. In its pages parents rage at frightened defenseless children. World famous literary lions use their writing talent to malign their innocent parents. Trusted intelligence officers betray their country's secrets and a powerful spy-catcher willfully and wrongly accuses his loyal colleagues of treachery. Political scoundrels malign exemplary public servants. Modern serial killers entice victims into lethal traps. Ancient tyrants torture and slaughter thousands of their subjects.
Based on decades of research, Graham takes the reader on an eye-popping tour of human history and shows that every one of these horrific characters (and many others) was an alcoholic. He also convinces the reader that, contrary to orthodox interpretation, their addiction to alcohol actually caused the diabolical behavior. Here are some of Graham's subjects: Ancient tyrants Alexander the Great, Ivan the Terrible, and Henry VIII. Murderers Ted Bundy, Richard Speck, and John Wilkes Booth. Traitors Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean. Political scoundrels Joseph McCarthy, Huey Long, and Andrew Johnson. Writers Eugene O'Neill, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. In what is surely his most provocative chapter, Graham solves the twentieth century's most baffling mystery: Why did Joseph Stalin murder twenty-five million loyal citizens? His claim that Stalin's alcoholism is backed by overwhelming evidence, some of it provided by famous eye-witnesses Nikita Krushechev, Charles de Gaulle and Winston Churchill.
Reviews and Reactions
"I found VESSELS OF RAGE easy to read and it proved to be an entertaining and informative description of alcoholism and the personality characteristics of well-known individuals who James Graham is convinced suffered from alcohol dependency. His argument for the presence of alcoholism in many historical figures is convincing, and the reader will acquire a good understanding of the symptoms of this disorder and how they influenced the lives of such notables as Joseph Stalin, Alexander the Great, Henry Ford, John Wayne Gacy and other serial killers, and many other well-known, and not so well-known, sufferers from alcoholism.
"The thrust of Graham's argument is that the personality traits frequently found in alcoholics produce individuals who have a tremendous need for ego satisfaction, and therefore not only seek power, but also abuse it. Quite correctly, in my opinion, he emphasizes that when alcoholics stop drinking, many of their symptoms persist including, in many, the pathological need for power. Until significant changes are made in the personality, particularly the ego, many alcoholics remain severely problematic. He makes this point extremely well and illustrates it be his references to writers, artists, movie stars and selected other individuals.
"... the book will be of interest to a wide variety of readers and... one can enjoy it as well as acquire some new knowledge. Whatever controversies it creates are much more to its advantage than its disadvantage." Eric W. Fine, M.D. , American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry
"Reversing the usual question -- Why do so many authors have alcohol problems? -- he argues that writing [has] particular appeal for self-centered alcoholics... Traitors, serial killers, business executives and politicians draw similar attention... " A.L.A Booklist
"Graham uses dozens of case histories to illustrate the enormous influence of alcoholism has had on society -- one far greater than previously suspected or admitted. When an individual of no particular consequence or ability suffers from the disease, it's bad enough; they affect themselves, their family, friends, co-workers, and whomever else they may encounter. But when someone of intelligence and ability, and with access to power (whether it be as a writer, a corporation executive, a politician, etc.) the damage they can cause is much worse and every bit as likely. This book grabs readers' attention from page one and compels them to see alcohol and the world in an entirely different way." The Bookpaper
"Fascinating! Fascinating! A really interesting read." Dr. Dean Edell, Nationally-Syndicated Radio Host
"Graham's examples are legion and arresting -- Alexander the Great, Henry VIII, Ivan the Terrible, the composer Beethoven, writers from Poe to Wolfe, President Grant, Admiral Byrd, Senators McCarthy and Tower, the English traitors Burgess, Maclean, Philby and Blunt, Ty Cobb, Joan Crawford, Tallulah Bankhead, even astronaut "Buzz" Aldrin. He devotes an entire chapter to the case of Joseph Stalin who, he remarks, began his bloody purges only after he was securely in power, and did nothing for eight successive days after Hitler's blitzkrieg began -- because, Graham argues, he was on a bender. "... his insight is arresting and provocative." Brian W. Firth, Rapport
NEW! James Graham has established a blog for Vessels of Rage.
PRICE REDUCED. You can now download from Google Books an eBook version of Vessels of Rage for the low price of $1.00. If you are located in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia or Italy you may be able to download the book from Google Books for a similarly low price in your own currency.
Element Books of Dover, England published a paperback edition with the title The Secret History of Alcoholism. It is no longer in print.
Translated editions have been published in Spanish, Hungarian, Czech, Bulgarian and Finnish.
Note: To read significant excerpts from Vessels of Rage visit Google Books.