Mysteriously sophisticated, darkly alluring, almost Satanic: absinthe was the drink of choice for Baudelaire, Verlaine and Wilde. It inspired paintings by Degas and Manet, van Gogh and Picasso. It was blamed for conditions ranging from sterility to madness, to French defeats in World War I. The campaign against "the devil in a bottle" resulted in its ban throughout most of Europe. Its reputation for toxicity eventually extinguished the fin-de-siècle's infatuation with absinthe, but not before it had influenced generations of artists on both sides of the channel. This book is a biography of "the green fairy": from its place in the lives of writers and artists who were inspired--and ruined--by it, to its more recent rediscovery by Ernest Hemingway and today’s would-be sophisticates.