A History of the World in 6 Glasses

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  • From beer to Coca-Cola, the six drinks that have helped shape human historyThroughout 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. Tom Standage is technology editor at The Economist and the author of The Turk, The Neptune File, and The Victorian Internet. He lives in Greenwich, England. Throughout human history, certain drinks have done much more than just quench thirst. As Tom Standage relates, six of them have had a surprisingly pervasive influence on the course of history during pivotal epochs—from humankind's adoption of agriculture and the birth of cities to the advent of globalization. A History of the World in 6 Glasses presents a vision of world history, telling the story of humanity from the Stone Age to the twenty-first century through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. For Standage, each drink is a kind of technology, a catalyst for advancing culture by which he demonstrates the intricate interplay of different civilizations. "A History of the World in 6 Glasses is loaded with the kind of data that get talked about at the figurative water cooler . . . Incisive, illuminating and swift."—Janet Maslin, The New York Times "[Standage] uses something mundane and everyday to tell vivid and accessible stories about the changing textures of human life."—Steven Shapin, The New Yorker "As refreshing as a cool glass of beer on a hot day and as stimulating as that first cup of coffee in the morning. There aren't many books this entertaining that also provide a cogent crash course in ancient, classical and modern history."—Wendy Smith, Los Angeles Times "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 argues that beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola have each, in their own way, helped to shape the course of history."—Matthew Rees, The Wall Street Journal "When Standage decided to follow his readable study of an 18th-century chess-playing automaton, The Turk, with a book about six beverages that really did change the world, he had the grace to take both the title and the story in a new direction."—Stephen Meuse, Boston Globe "The book makes an easy and agreeable read, never seeming discursive or unwieldy, despite the vast amount of ground it covers. I'll happily raise my glass to that."—Yiling Chen-Josephson, Newsday "Technology historian Standage follows the flow of civilization as humanity guzzles a half-dozen prime beverages. First made by nature in prehistory was beer. Finding it good, and more salubrious than plain water, mankind turned brewer. (And so the stage was set for cartoons set in barrooms eons later). From cuneiform beer ledgers, Standage's story hops to Dionysus and the oenophiles of Greece and Rome, who knew as much about the pleasures of the grape as any modern wine snob. Here, we learn the vintage that Caligula preferred. In Córdoba, distilled spirits formed rum. Allotments of rum, in turn, enhanced the fighting effectiveness of British tars against foreign sailors debilitated by scurvy. The attempt to pay for the recent revolution by imposing federal taxes on independent stills produced the short-lived Whiskey Rebellion in the new United States. Islam eschewed booze, but a sober gift from the Arab world was coffee. In 17th-century Europe, coffeehouses were not only as ubiquitous as Starbucks, they were 'information exchanges' where people traded news as 'vibrant and unreliable' as that found on a contemporary Internet blog. Tea, which tradition holds was first brewed some 4,500 years ago (our author dates it closer to the first century), became largely controlled, along with opium, by the East India Company. From British tea-time dominance, beverage history goes to that fizzy badge of American hegemony, Coca-Cola. We learn why drugstores once featured soda fountains and how Coke fought Pepsi in WWII. Don't drink the water: throughout history, beer, wine, whiskey, coffee, tea and soda pop were all more potable. Ironically, now that it's bottled and pricey, water seems to making a comeback. 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!"—Kirkus Reviews "Historian Standage explores the significant role that six beverages have played in the world's history. Few realize the prominence of beer in ancient Egypt, but it was crucial to both cultural and religious life throughout the Fertile Crescent, appearing even in the Gilgamesh epic. Wine's history has been recounted in many places, and its use to avoid often—polluted water supplies made it ubiquitous wherever grapes could be easily cultivated. Spirits, first manufactured by Arabs and later rejected by them with the rise of Islam, played a fundamental role in the ascendance of the British navy. As a stimulant, coffee found no hostility within Islam's tenets, and its use spread as the faith moved out of Arabia into Asia and Europe. Tea enjoyed similar status, and it bound China and India to the West. Cola drinks, a modern American phenomenon, relied on American mass-marketing skills to achieve dominance. An appendix gives some modern sources for some of the primitive beers and wines described in the text.”—Booklist "Standage starts with a bold hypothesis—that each epoch, from the Stone Age to the present, has had its signature beverage—and takes readers on an extraordinary trip through world history. The Econom
  • Author:
    Tom Standage
    Binding:
    Paperback
    Dewey Decimal Number:
    394.12
    EAN:
    9780802715524
    ISBN:
    0802715524
    Label:
    Walker Publishing Company
    Languages:
    English
    List Price:
    $15.95
    Manufacturer:
    Walker Publishing Company
    Number Of Items:
    1
    Number Of Pages:
    311
    Product Group:
    Book
    Product Type Name:
    ABIS_BOOK
    Publication Date:
    2006-05-16
    Publisher:
    Walker Publishing Company
    Studio:
    Walker Publishing Company
    Title:
    A History of the World in 6 Glasses
    Feature:
    Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.
    Release Date:
    2006-05-16

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