Rachel Fisher'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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Mar 15, 12

Read in January, 2009

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Title: A History of the World in 6 Glasses
Author: Tom Standage
Rating: 5 Stars

HA! I have found a way to combine my love of book review with my love of food blogging into one perfect amalgam - A History of the World in 6 Glasses. (Yes, the author does use the numeral '6' in the title grammar nazis, just deal with it.) Please just ignore the fact that I already did the same thing with The Ominvore's Dilemma post.

This book is NON-FICTION (horror of horrors) and it is excellent. It is a well-researched musing on the role that beverages, of all things, have had on human history. By its conclusion I realized how little I'd considered the importance of beverages and how much I had missed in this oversight.

Over the years I have read a lot of non-fiction that has been informative, but few things have stuck with me the way that this one has done. I find myself thinking about it again and often picking it up to thumb through and re-read a passage. Of course, I've also given it away a lot for others to read and it is currently missing from my bookshelf, which is probably just as well. I have read it enough already.

It is a fast read and it is not bogged down by the usual 'history hysteria' that those who love the genre enjoy. And by this I mean the tendency of history buffs to drown the reader in an ocean of details that muddy his or her ability to really appreciate the overall meaning of the book. That is definitely not the case IMHO, with Standage's book.

He covers the historical discovery, usage, and influences of beer (and mead), wine, spirits, tea, coffee, and Coca-Cola. While you may have paid enough attention in history to realize that many of these beverages have been a part of human history for millenia, you may not have truly understood their impact (beyond tea, anyway...that one get's pounded into us as a former British colony...). Each one has had a significant impact on things like health, trade, communications, and even innovation.
What I Learned

Without giving away any spoilers, I learned that alcohol was actually 'better' for us than water (at one time long ago) and that tea and coffee represent a spiritual and philosophical divide, not just a preference. And finally, I learned that of all the drinks that have changed the world, the last is not to be underestimated: Coca-Cola.

If the last thing you've thought about in the past oh...forever, is the drink in your hand, I have to suggest this book. It makes the kind of book that one can enjoyably pick up on a whim and skim for a few minutes or sit down and read from start to finish. With a nice cup of -------something------ of course!
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