Tom's Reviews > A History of the World in 6 Glasses

A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage
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's review
Apr 20, 2011

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bookshelves: food-and-drink, non-fiction, history
Read in April, 2011

This books was a very interesting concept. Look at how six beverages are linked to various times and places in history. While the beer chapter lacked a bit for me, this may have been due to the fact that it was from the Neolithic Period, and lacked a lot of the excellent primary source material that Enlightenment coffee houses or rum drinking ship captains are accompanied by. Still it was a fascinating look at how civilization and drinks are linked. I wish it had better references and notes, but it was a nice easy read, and those two things can often be at odds.

The most interesting factoid: British ships originally provided the crew with ale rations, but eventually it switched to rum, which was often drank with sugar/molasses and lime/lemon. Thus the term, Limeys, and no scurvy. The French originally received wine rations (which provided Vitamin C) but switched to brandy, which distills out the vitamins. So during the Age of Imperialism, the health of British crews increased, and the French became more susceptible to disease. The role this nutrition versus malnutrition played in naval battles and the struggle between Britain and France was probably significant.
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Linda Harkins We,, Tom, if you think it reads like a textbook, then I should tell you that it was required reading last semester in my granddaughter's world history course--just right for freshmen! I just finished reading it, and thought it was interesting from a Eurocentric viewpoint.

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