May 302014


A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage

Hardcover: 311 pages
Publisher: Walker & Company; 1st edition (May 19, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802714471
ISBN-13: 978-0802714473

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.

This was the May book club pick for The Kitchen Reader. Because of the title of the book, I wondered if it would read like a text book. It didn’t. It reads like a novel, and because of that I zooomed through it. I really enjoyed learning how different types of drinks helped shape the world from as early as the Stone Age. This book is full of information that was new to me since I have never thought about how the drinks we enjoy today came to be,  or the difference they made in the lives of our ancestors.

The chapters are:
Beer in Mesopotamia and Egypt
1. A Stone Age Brew
2. Civilized Beer

Wine In Greece and Rome
3. The Delight of Wine
4. The Imperial Vine

Spirits In The Colonial Period
5. High Spirits, High Seas
6. The Drinks That Built America

Coffee In The Age Of Reason
7. The Great Soberer
8. The Coffeehouse Internet

Tea And The British Empire
9. Empires Of Tea
10. Tea Power

Coca-Cola And The Rise Of America
11. From Soda To Cola
12. Globalization In A Bottle

And the epilogue is Back To The Source (water)

I thought about adding a few facts to my review, but I think if this is a subject you’re interested in, you would much more enjoy reading the book and absorbing all the info for each drink. I highly recommend the book. I don’t think you’ll regret reading it.

Very very interesting!

 Posted by at 4:14 PM

  14 Responses to “A History Of The World In 6 Glasses by Tom Standage”

  1. Sounds unusual. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. I’m glad you enjoyed this book, Vicki. It does sound informative and interesting. The history of beverages would be fascinating.

  3. An interesting approach to learning a little history. I’ll have to look for it.

  4. Sounds like an interesting read!

  5. I enjoy books like this. So many interesting historical facts to discover.

  6. I’ve been considering this book for a while, but wondered if it would be too much like reading a textbook. Glad to know it read like a novel… bet I would enjoy this in audio format, too. Will look into it – thanks.

  7. This sounds like a fascinating read – i think I’d really enjoy this one.

  8. That’s for commenting on my blog and leaving a link to this post. I love your site and will definitely be back to visit more!

  9. I really enjoyed reading this book too! I learned so much from it.

  10. Sounds fascinating! It reminds me of a book I read about the history of the screw. 🙂

  11. I loved this book! It was so interesting, and I agree that it read like a novel.

  12. Your review made a good connection that I hadn’t realised: that the drinks were a kind of technology and that’s why they are so interlinked with history. I suppose in some ways that can be taken quite literally, that the technology to brew beer, for example, greatly advanced civilization. But also a shared beverage is something that defines a people. Thanks for your review!

  13. I had this book checked out but didn’t get to it. I may want to read it, still! Sounds good!

  14. I agree with you that this is a book someone should just try (whether reading or audio) because there are lots of fun little tidbits and trivia in them and each chapter is pretty fast, and it’s a fun way to look at history from a different perspective!

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