The subtitle on the version that I had : tradition, change and the fate of the Irish pub. Pint of plain phrase comes from one of Flann O'Brien's poems.Barich, an American transplant to Dublin, explores the Irish pubs, in search of his ideal, which is based on The Quiet Man film. Published in 2009, but obviously written before Ireland's economy ran into problems.Of course he discovers the pub of old is disappearing, the result of many factors -- Ireland's booming economy at the time, the increased commuter lifestyle, more choices and at the same time, a move to consuming alcohol at home instead of outside, due in part to the tougher drunk driving laws. Some bits:I agreed with Jim about rounds, of course. Moriarity had taught me the expense -- financial, physical, and mental -- of the system, but it's a ritual aspect of Irish pub life for so long that its habit is deeply ingrained. The sociologist Tom Inglis interprets it as an instance of Ireland's "rule-bound society," on a par with the fealty pledged to the church. It's an exercise in social control, Inglis believes, whereas the use of alcohol in most other European countries is much more relaxed and celebratory. Paying for rounds is a way for an individual to gain acceptance -- it demonstrates a desire to belong. The system encourages mutual aid and obligation, other critics have speculated, but whatever the case, Jim knew it to be a trap best avoided. Barich discusses a paper by Perry Share, Toward an Understanding of the Pub in Contemporary Irish social life. The pub as a "third place", erasing the distinction between a guest and host. There should be no criteria for inclusion. Conversation should be the cardinal activity. Acessible, ideally on foot. There should be regulars who build up a network of trust over time. Plain and unpretentious. Not home, but with some of the qualities of home. What a pub used to be, but is fading from the scene now. Discussion of the Irish Times' attempt to define Irishness with its readers. Innate ability to talk about the weather; a natural capacity for arriving late; being a Roman Catholic and harboring a slight suspicion that sex is still a sin; a love of horse races; the spontaneous singing of ballads; a string of relatives in the US; a tendency to exaggerate; a strong desire to avoid marriage before 40 (for men only: and the connection to the pub__ knowing what time it closes< an unnatural capacity for drink especially the late one: an inside knowledge of the local public house: and the inability to leave public houses before closing time> barich continues his quest for the perfect pub< both around dublin and out in some of the counties> He comes tantalizingly close on a couple of nights. It's well written, easy to read. I'd like to have a pint with him sometime.