"How To Drink Like a Mad Man" is a republication of "The 24-Hour Drink Book: An Executive Guide to Survival," a very funny, but ultimately sad, work of fiction originally published in 1962. It chronicles the life of WL, an executive with an unspecified but large company in Manhattan. WL stands for Working Lush, since his real work is trying to hide the fact that he is always at least a little drunk. The book gives numerous tips on how to survive in business while sloshed and lays down only one rule: never drink before 11:20 a.m. That, in WL's mind, is the distinction between a working lush and an outright alcoholic.
The book takes you through a typical day in WL's life, beginning at home, where he tries to find out how badly he behaved the night before, through the commute into the city, where he talks to other businessmen on the train to try to clear his voice, at the office, where he attempts to keep his secretary busy to hide the fact that he doesn't really do anything, to lunch, where his favorite waiter, Carl, brings him a "Shirley Temple" consisting of gin on the rocks, and eventually home, where he unwinds with a few more drinks. When he at last nods off in the easy chair, dead to the world, his wife says, "If he could just say, I am an alcoholic, then maybe we could get somewhere."
The author, Ralph Maloney, was a real-life alcoholic who presumably wrote this book as therapy, although he died young. The book captured the zeitgest of the early 1960's and stayed in print for years. The original is out of print and hardbacks are selling for seventy dollars online, so this reprint, capitalizing on the success of "Mad Men," is an economical way to enjoy the story. It is a very funny book but also a cautionary tale.