Ross West

Auguste Raphaël Fontaine, circa 1900. From AR Fontaine’s collection, courtesy of Claude Varlot. Used with permission

In 1897, France declared that opium, salt and alcohol would be the revenue generators to fund its expansion and program of economic development in the newly imagined Indochina. Alcohol was widely produced and consumed in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and suddenly the new colonial master had declared a strict monopoly over the production, distribution and sale of this essential product. In Imperial Intoxication: Alcohol and the Making of Colonial Indochina, Gerard Sasges explores this abrupt transition, how it came about, the effects it had within society, and what people caught up in the change thought about it.

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