Janice (Holland MI)
An Edible History . .. .
An Edible History of Humanity is packed with information - at times interesting, and at other times really difficult to read through. This book would be well suited as additional reading for a college level history or sociology class. I would not recommend this as book club read.
John (Steilacoom WA)
An Edible History of Humanity
I found this to be an informative account of the impact of agriculture, and in some cases of specific foods, on human history.
I particularly enjoyed the accounts of the development of the spice trade and its impact on global exploration and the development of European colonial empires. There is also a good review of the failed attempts by the USSR and China to turn agriculture into productive state run collectives. The book is short enough not to get into too much minutiae but provides notes and a thorough bibliography for those seeking more information on specific subjects. I would recommend this to anyone interested in a good overview of this subject.
Elyse (Creswell OR)
Good Book, but Rather Dry
This book traces the connection between food and the rise of civilization, establishment of cities, the beginning of slavery, horticulture and mechanization among many other things. Indeed, it seems from reading this book that it is food that is actually the root of all evil.
It is rather dry reading, if you are a history buff you would probably enjoy it. I chose to read it because I am interested in all aspects of food, but found it less interesting as I went on.
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.
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.
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.
Pat (Pittsboro NC)
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.