The bestselling author of A History of the World in 6 Glasses brilliantly charts how foods have transformed human culture through the ages.
Throughout history, food has acted as a catalyst of social change, political organization, geopolitical competition, industrial development, military conflict, and economic expansion. An Edible History of Humanity is a pithy, entertaining account of how a series of changescaused, enabled or influenced by foodhas helped to shape and transform societies around the world.
The first civilizations were built on barley and wheat in the Near East, millet and rice in Asia, corn and potatoes in the Americas. Why farming created a strictly ordered social hierarchy instead of the egalitarianism of hunter-gatherers is, as Tom Standage reveals, as interesting as the details of the complex cultures that emerged, eventually interconnected by commerce. Trade in exotic spices spawned the age of exploration and colonization of the New World.
Foods influence over the course of history extends into modern times. In the late eighteenth century Britains solution to food shortages was to industrialize and import food rather than grow it. Food helped to determine the outcome of wars: Napoleons rise and fall was intimately connected with his ability to feed his vast armies. In the twentieth century, Communist leaders employed food as an ideological weapon, resulting in the death by starvation of millions in the Soviet Union and China. And today the foods we choose in the supermarket connect us to global debates about trade, development, the environment, and the adoption of new technologies. Drawing from many fields, including genetics, archaeology, anthropology, ethno-botany, and economicsand invoking food as a special form of technologyAn Edible History of Humanity is an appetizing and fully satisfying discourse on the sweep of human history.
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"Some topics, like the spice trade's encouragement of exploration, are fairly obvious choices, but the concise style and inclusion of little-known details keep the material both entertaining and enlightening." - Library Journal
"An intense briefing on the making of our world from the vantage point of food history." - Kirkus Reviews
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Tom Standage is
the business editor at The Economist magazine and editor-in-chief of its website, Economist.com. He is the
author of five history books, An Edible History of Humanity
(2009), A History of the World in
Six Glasses (2005), The Turk (2002), The
Neptune File (2000) and The Victorian Internet
(1998), at least two of which have been serialized as "Book of the
Week" on BBC Radio 4. The Victorian Internet: How The Victorians Wired the World, was made into
a Channel 4 documentary.
He has previously covered science and technology for a number of newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian, ...
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