This is the first general history of alcohol and drinking in East Africa.
Contributes to an emerging field of African social history in distinctive and innovative ways. Willis's central theme is power - from customary beliefs in alcohol as a symbol of authority and a means of enhancement and privilege, to the use of power in advertising and discourse on the consumption of modern bottled beers and spirits.
It is Willis's contention that attitudes towards alcohol have become more similar across the region over time. Willis achieves a full chronological span of nearly two centuries.
He lays considerable emphasis upon the late-colonial and post-colonial years; thus bringing out the continuities of these years which historians of eastern Africa have tended to overlook. Oral material from three case study areas in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are integrally woven in with archival and newspaper sources, each reinforcing and elaborating the other.