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.
History The Way It Should Be
By John D. Cofield - June 10, 2005
This is a good example of why history is fun. Tom Standage has investigated the origins of six beverages: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola and has found innumerable connections, interconnections, and insights into not only the histories of the drinks themselves but also their impacts on the larger human story. The links Standage finds, for example between coffee and the Enlightenment or tea and the Opium Wars or wine and beer and their effect on class and cultural tensions in Greece and Rome, just a few of the many insights you'll find in the book) are fascinating. Standage also provides one of the most succinct but thorough dissections of the globalization debate I have ever seen in his coverage of "Coca-Colonization."
A History of the World in Six Glasses is much more than just a history of six beverages. It is history as it should be written (and taught).
A New View into History
By John Matlock "Gunny" - June 16, 2005
What can you say except, "I'll drink to that."
As I first started looking at this book I was reminded of James Burke and his 'Connections.' Like Burke, Mr. Standage looks at the six (well maybe seven) drinks that basically were a technology that changed history.
To illustrate this I'll talk about only one of his drinks -- Beer. Beer probably began as some leftover cooked grain, perhaps the kids morning cereal, was left outside in the rain. Soaking in water, it turned into malt. Wild yeast fell into the mix, and in a few days the result was beer. While I'd bet it was foul tasting beer, it was the only alcoholic beverage around.
OK, so you have beer, how does this mean anything? Well, to get more beer, you need more grain. To get more grain you basically move from being a hunter-gatherer to a farmer. You also need the ancillary technologies of pottery to make and store the product. If you have beer, and your neighbors have food, perhaps you can make a... read more
Read this one for fun and your next cocktail party
By Mark P. McDonald - August 13, 2005
Do you ever wonder where some people find the most interesting things to say at parties -- like how tea aided longevity in China or raised life expectancy in Europe ?
Well it is this kind of book that drives that knowledge. Standage has created a very enjoyable, brisk read that is definately for fun and to load up on fun facts.
By telling the world's history in six glasses (see below) Standage covers alot of ground and sure he misses alot, but its still fun non-the less.
1) Beer -- a basis for why people replaced hunting with farming
2) Wine -- the civilizer of Greece and Rome
3) Hard Spirits -- slavery, the American Revolution
4) Tea -- the life sustainer and improver
5) Coffee -- the fuel for the enlightenment
6) Cola -- particularly Coca-cola the expression of cultural dominance.
Sure you have heard some of these stories before, but this book presents history in a fun and... read more
In this ground-breaking work, Dr Stavros Panteli surveys the history of the Jews in Cyprus over the past two-and-a-half thousand years. Because of its geographical proximity to Palestine, the island ...