From beer to Coca-Cola, the six drinks that have helped shape human history.
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 period.
A History of the World in 6 Glasses tells the story of
humanity from the Stone Age to the 21st century through the lens
of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. Beer was first made
in the Fertile Crescent and by 3000 B.C.E. was so important to
Mesopotamia and Egypt that it was used to pay wages. In ancient
Greece wine became the main export of her vast seaborne trade,
helping spread Greek culture abroad. Spirits such as brandy and
rum fueled the Age of Exploration, fortifying seamen on long
voyages and oiling the pernicious slave trade. Although coffee
originated in the Arab world, it stoked revolutionary thought in
Europe during the Age of Reason, when coffeehouses became centers
of intellectual exchange. And hundreds of years after the Chinese
began drinking tea, it became especially popular in Britain, with
far-reaching effects on British foreign policy. Finally, though
carbonated drinks were invented in 18th-century Europe they became
a 20th-century phenomenon, and Coca-Cola in particular is the
leading symbol of globalization.
For Tom Standage, each drink is a kind of technology, a catalyst
for advancing culture by which he demonstrates the intricate
interplay of different civilizations. You may never look at your
favorite drink the same way again.
Matthew Rees - The Wall Street Journal
Historians, understandably, devote most of their attention to war, politics and, not least, money. But history can also be seen through the prism of the commodities that money buys. In "A History of the World in Six Glasses", Tom Standage, a writer for the Economist magazine, argues that beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola have each, in their own way, helped to shape the course of history.
Starred Review. The Economist's technology editor has the ability to connect the smallest detail to the big picture and a knack for summarizing vast concepts in a few sentences.
Standage offers a distilled account of civilization founded on the drinking habits of mankind from the days of hunter-gatherers to yesterday's designer thirst-quencher. History, along with a bit of technology, etymology, chemistry and bibulous entertainment. Bottoms up!
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by JS115 A History of the World in 6 Glasses I kinda liked it but it wasn't what the title says. It's not the whole History of the World... It was the History of the Six Drinks, that's what makes this book kind of boring.
Rated of 5
by Blah Hard To Read I had to read this book for AP World History. Actually, I'm still reading it. I just can't get through it. Some things are very interesting but it's just very hard to get into it.
Rated of 5
by Johan Great I read this book for my AP class. For interested parties only. Its written simply enough for anyone to read, but ONLY IF YOU HAVE AN INTEREST IN HISTORY, otherwise you'll spend most of your time complaining about having to read it for an AP... Read More
Rated of 5
by gotzy284 Horrible I had to read this book for my AP Class. It was so boring, I actually almost fell asleep. Wouldn't read it for spare time.
Rated of 5
by Shannon Burning this book when I finish it. I had to read this for my AP class. Fell asleep at least a couple of times.. Very boring for teenagers. Don't read it on your own free time. It's horrible! D: And the majority of it, I had no idea what the **** it was talking about.
Rated of 5
by Amanda Poorly executed. Although this book had a slightly more interesting view on history, it was written in a very boring context, and the only reason I bothered to finish it was because there was an assignment along with it for my AP class. I would not recommend this... Read More
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
serialized in Punch in the 1920s, and I'm not that old!)
Today things are different. Children have access to an ever
increasing range of fun history books and historical fiction, and
even the school text books have...
'Offers an exquisite chronicle of the rise and fall of this bituminous black mineral.... Part history and part environmental argument, Freese's elegant book teaches an important lesson about the interdependence of humans and their natural environment both for good and ill throughout history.'
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