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Top 10 Historical Drunks Who Changed the World

by ncoles   September 13, 2011 at 7:00AM  |  Views: 35,808


5. Bill Wilson



Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Bill Wilson is the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. He is the man who literally wrote the book on how to stay sober.

Wilson love affair with alcohol began with a cocktail called the Bronx. He first consumed this cocktail at a dinner party in 1916. He was hooked. After a few sips, he recounted, "I had found the elixir of life." Wilson then battled alcoholism for the next twenty years, trying numerous times to kick the habit. It was while receiving help from the evangelical Christian Oxford Group that he met Dr. Bob Smith. The two would go on the write the seminal book, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism. That book forever changed the way addiction is handled and treated.

Wilson died in 1971 and had been sober for 37 years. Today Alcoholics Anonymous has over two million active members worldwide.

4. Boris Yeltsin



Photo: Andre Durand/AFP/Getty Images

He was the man who transformed Russia by discarding the shackles of communism and ushering in Russian-style democracy and capitalism. Boris Yeltsin ruled Russia from 1991 to 1999 and his reforms to the Russian economy have helped restore the nation's wealth and political power. Like many a Russian, Yeltsin liked a drink (or three). His battle with the bottle is well documented and he was often portrayed in the Western media as a bumbling drunk.

The drunken stories of Yeltsin's time in power are infamous. In 1994 he was reportedly unable to disembark a plane to meet a waiting Irish Prime Minister because of an epic mid-air drinking session. In 1995 Bill Clinton claims Yeltsin was found drunk on Pennsylvania Avenue dressed only in his underwear attempting to hail a taxi. Why? He was making a drunken pizza run. In 1997 on a visit to Stockholm he babbled incoherently, likened Bjorn Borg's face to Swedish meatballs and then proceeded to lose his balance and fall down at podium. Priceless drunken fun. Sadly, Yelstin's drinking overshadowed his legacy up until his death in 2007.

3. Winston Churchill



Photo: Buyenlarge/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Winston Churchill once said, "I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me." Throughout his life, from his time a journalist to his years as the British Prime Minister, a bottle of booze was never far from Churchill's side. The wartime leader was notorious for his love of a drink. He is said to have drunk hock, a type of wine, with breakfast. Churchill would then amp up with alcohol intake during the day. At meal times the booze flowed freely. He was known to drink both champagne and brandy at lunch and dinner. Churchill would often joke about his alcohol intake. He once told the King of Saudi Arabia that his absolute rule of life required drinking before, during, and after meals.

2. Alexander the Great



Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Alexander the Great was a master military strategist and the ruler of one of the largest empires in ancient history. He also liked a drink. His drinking sessions were infamous and often deadly. He is said to have killed his friend Cleitus, who had just saved his life in battle, with a spear during an alcohol-fueled party.

Historian's have long argued over the impact alcohol play in Alexander the Great's life.
John Maxwell O'Brien, an Associate Professor of History at City University, New York, Alexander's writes in his book Alexander the Great: The Invisible Enemy, that Alexander suffered the "the classic symptoms of alcoholism." Alexander the Great's untimely death at the tender age of 32 was likely caused by alcohol. Greek historian Diodorus believes Alexander died after drinking a large bowl of unmixed wine.

1. Ulysses S. Grant



Photo: Stock Montage/Archive Photos/Getty Images

He's the man on the $50 bill, the United States' 18th president, and he tops the list as the "biggest drinker of any U.S. president." Ulysses S. Grant is an impressive man. Before becoming President, he led the Union Army to victory as lieutenant general. Later, as president, he shepherded the United States through the Reconstruction Era. He did it all with a drink in his hand, or at the very least close by.

Grant was driven to "binge drinking" during an early stint in the army. By 1854 his "alcohol consumption so alarmed his superiors that he was asked to resign from the Army." Grant's road to redemption came with the Civil War. He re-enlisted in the army and ended up leading it to victory. It is said that during the war he would sit back and drink whiskey. When Abraham Lincoln was told to sack Grant because of his drinking, Lincoln responded by asking what brand of whiskey Grant drank so that he could send a barrel of it to every other general. Grant's choice of liquor was Old Crow Bourbon Whiskey. Grant continued to drink throughout his presidency.

THE DAILY FOUR

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