The Editors:

In writing this reply, I’m ignoring the advice that I’ve given over many years to authors who feel they’ve been wronged by a book review: Learn from any useful points that the reviewer made, focus on the positive reviews (assuming there are any), and certainly do not respond.

However, I am writing to express my disappointment at Patrick E. McGovern’s review of my book, Alcohol: A History, in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History, XLVI (2015), 105–107. This was a not negative review of my book, which McGovern calls “richly textured and informative.” The problem is that it is not a review of my book at all. It is a classic example of a commentary by a reviewer whose fundamental complaint is that the author did not write the book that the reviewer wanted to read.

My understanding (from editing an academic journal for twenty years) is that...

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