From the book jacket
: Throughout human history certain drinks have done
much more than just quench thirst. As Tom Standage relates with authority
and charm, six of them have had a surprisingly pervasive influence on the
course of history, becoming the defining drink during a pivotal historical
: Standage presents history through the lens of 6 drinks from the
dawn of civilization. Farming allowed our ancestors to build
surpluses of food, including grains - and it wasn't long before they were
fermenting those grains into beer. The Greeks made wine, which thus
became important to the Romans and no doubt influenced the areas that Rome
felt were worth colonizing. The Arabs mastered the art of distilling
alcohol (very useful for those long voyages...
Beyond the Book
The current wave of
history books written from the point of view of one, often seemingly
unimportant product, whether it be salt, coal, spices, plants,
or in the case of this book, drinks, sends me into positive
paroxysms of happiness, because they present history in a form that
I actually enjoy! My dusty old school history books were
enough to turn off all but the most inspired historian, and
especially unappealing to girls with their emphasis on battles.
The only light relief came in the form of 1066 and All That
by W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman.
- but even that was
intended for an adult audience of a previous era (it was first...