An Edible History of Humanity
History buffs rejoice! Tom Standage has written an erudite and entertaining view of world history through the lense of food choices and agriculture.
He interspaces the tale of history with thoroughly understandable explanations of plant adaptation, sociology and military tactics. Standage is a wonderful storyteller who makes history come alive in a clear and concise writing style. Fans of Mark Kurlansky will definitely enjoy this book.
Rated of 5
by Froma (Boulder CO)
A Feast for Readers
Standage is at his best telling a story, whether it be Napoleons strategy, the invention of canned food, or the Berlin airlift. The book is weakest in the early chapters where, of necessity, Standage weaves many strands together, jumping around geographically and temporally, tracking the move from hunter/gatherer to agriculturally based societies. The stories of Stalins and Maos famines are completely gripping; the analysis of the relationship between dictatorship and famine is compelling; the story of the green revolution, fascinating. If you think you might enjoy this book, read it. You will.
Rated of 5
by Claire M. (Hilton Head, SC)
Food through the Ages...
Without great thought most of us have perhaps thought that history has influenced food but the opposite is true - food has written history. Who would be thinking farming was an alien activity 10,000 years ago? The mutations of corn, rice, wheat and other grains over the millennia, from a grass into a so called cereal, which can only be grown by man is illustrative of the current food supply. Standages book is a very interesting story of how we have gotten to where we are through the domestication of grain and livestock. And here I stand; an opponent of genetic engineering who has not understood the precedents!
What this book also shows us is that we should follow the food, not the money in order to understand the growth of societies. Today we take food for granted in a country dominated by agribusiness - cheap food for cheap health. Though many of us may want to eat and think local it behooves us to understand the inter dependence of global agribusiness and populations which have led us to these desires. Thomas Malthus, wars, famines, Norman Borlaug, synthesizing ammonia, and feeding huge populations - all of these many people and events are shown by Standage to have brought us to what we eat now. Im delighted to have learned what I have, to understand the interrelationships, the history of food and civilizations in reading this very interesting book.
Rated of 5
by Kathy P. (Saratoga, CA)
Accessible and Insightful
Standage convincingly transforms colorful side notes from old world history texts -- spice trade routes, the domestication of grain -- into the dominant, driving forces that shaped human civilization. Lifelong learners will enjoy perusing these well-researched pages. He illuminates credible premises in entertaining, informative ways -- such as how Britain's food supply logistics helped the American Revolution to succeed, or how the existence of the potato made Britain's Industrial Revolution possible. Even well-honed trivia buffs will find new conversational highlights and factual gemstones here. This book could easily serve as a college textbook or reference resource.
Rated of 5
by Eileen C. (Arlington, TX)
History and food.
Excellent book by the author of the "History of the World in Six Glasses". Unlike the previous book there is not a timeline followed in this book, there are historical topics and food. The reader experiences how the cultivation of wild foods changed to food traits more favorable for human cultivation, instead of traits that might have lead to greater spread of foods. Revealed is how specialized societies developed from changes from a hunter/gatherer to agricultural society. How searching for new foods expanded knowledge of the world, and how foods from the new world led to better farming and the industrial revolution. How the ability to supply food to troops changed wars is covered as is the question of how the growing world can be fed today.
I recommend this book as an enlightening view of how foods have contributed to history and the world as we know it.
Rated of 5
by Heather (Brooklyn NY)
Thoughtful, but not particularly inspired ...
I am a little bit of a history buff, and this is a thoughtful and well-written look at how food has changed the course of human history. Certainly it filled in some gaps in my knowledge, particularly in relation to the spice trade; in fact, the mythology of how spices were acquired is one of the most fascinating parts of the book. Overall, though, this is not a "History is fun!" excursion. Chapters detailing the wholesale starvation of helpless populations by lunatic dictators are especially heartbreaking. Generally this is a sobering read, concise and logically laid out, but a bit bland. I didn't get any real feeling of passion from the author about his subject ... I kept feeling like something was "missing" from the book. It's good, yes, but not exceptional, and I wouldn't seek out this particular author again.
Rated of 5
by Mary Ann (Louisville KY)
Food For Thought An Edible History of Humanity is slow going in the first couple of chapters, but if you stick with it you will be rewarded with how food has been used for so much more than sustenance. I was eager to learn about the many different aspects of food's interaction with the nation's of the world. I recommend this book to anyone that loves history, and little known facts.
Judge rules unused Borders gift cards to be worthless(May 23 2013) Borders owes nothing to holders of roughly $210.5 million of gift cards that had not been used by the time the bookstore chain shut down, a Manhattan federal...