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Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  9,803 ratings  ·  1,079 reviews
Pollan takes us on a journey through the history of the drug, which was first discovered in a small part of East Africa and within a century became an addiction affecting most of the human species. Caffeine, it turns out, has changed the course of human history - won and lost wars, changed politics, dominated economies. What's more, the author shows that the Industrial Rev ...more
Audible Audio, 120 pages
Published January 30th 2020 by Audible Original
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Cora This is exactly what I wanted to ask! I also don't do audio books but would love to read it! …moreThis is exactly what I wanted to ask! I also don't do audio books but would love to read it! (less)

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Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it

This was a brief, interesting overview of the science and history of caffeine and all of the wonderful and terrible things it does to the human brain. I could have done without Pollan's long personal story about what it was like to stop drinking coffee for a few months and then start up again because yes, I too have detoxed from caffeine from time to time, and I too am aware it makes you sleepy and headachey and hate everything. HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM!

Still, I am indebted to this boo
Richard Derus
Jul 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Reminded by my GR friend Joe Kraus about this tale, I realized I never bothered to review it.

I really liked the information in this short hit of Pollan's ever-tendentious and trenchant ouevre. I tried, at quarantine's beginning, to acquire the skill of ear-reading yet again; I chose this because it's short and it's about my second-favorite drug; and it's Michael Pollan, whose works never, ever bore me.

I was snoring inside five minutes.

I tried six times in all to stay awake through the whole shor
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a lively and interesting audiobook on the history of caffeine and its effects on the body. My favorite part was Pollan's humorous description of his attempt to quit caffeine, and how quickly he felt sluggish and unfocused. His experience has affected my own caffeine use, and I've tried to set limits on my coffee intake. Recommended. ...more
Feb 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
I definitely enjoy engaging and informative nonfiction, and Michael Pollan's Caffeine is just that. I was amazed by the science and history revealed in this short selection. He's not kidding with that subtitle: Caffeine really did create the modern world in more ways than one. Pollan also explores the addictive nature of caffeine, including his own detox while writing and researching about the topic ironically. It's crazy to think, but caffeine is most certainly the world's most popular drug of ...more
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, nonfiction, 2020
I thought I reviewed this a few weeks ago. I'm not sure anymore. Social distancing + caffeine is screwing with my memory. Anyway, a good book, just not top-shelf Pollan. This one seemed like it could have been a forgotten (ugly step sister) to the four longish topics in The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World or like he was starting another drug book like How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and ...more
Alan Teder
PSA March 2020 This is a re-posting as the original audiobook, ratings and reviews were deleted in the 2020 Audible Original new purge by misinformed Goodreads librarians who are not following the Librarian Manual but instead basing their deletions on false information & opinions such as Audible Originals being "behind a paywall", "available only by subscription", "are podcasts" or "not books". There is nothing in the Librarian Manual that excludes these audiobooks, but for some reason, there is ...more
Montzalee Wittmann
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World by Michael Pollan is an interesting book about the history of caffeine, how it made its way through our lives, economy, society, and how its the only drug we give to our kids as a treat! It goes into many informative tidbits I found intriguing! Narrated by the author.
Apr 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
If you have seen Matt DAvellas coffee video where he quits coffee for a month. That was basically this book.
Going through the withdrawals, what people get out of coffee and a bit of history on the beans and even bees 🐝 and their reaction to coffee.
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The only socially acceptable drug we give our children on a daily basis."

Mr. Pollen's piece on caffeine was startling, funny, educational, and fresh. From the ridiculous amount of caffeine some historical/creative figures used to consume and the creative ways they their beverage to the hilarious responses religious and political groups had when caffeine first burst onto the scene, I was sucked in through the entire narrative of this Audible original. After listening to his w
Donna Craig
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I actually finished this book three days ago. The fact that I’m still having fascinated thoughts about it makes it a 5. Michael Pollan’s research methods are always intensely personal, and this topic was no different. The man researched caffeine withdrawal in part by going cold turkey himself.
Better him than me.
However, I absolutely delighted in reading about his misery. And about all of the interesting stuff about why caffeine evolved and how it hooks us. And whether it’s bad.
This 2 ½
Crystal Starr Light
Dec 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Bullet Review:

Audible has really upped their game with these free Audible originals. I've enjoyed Pollen's work in the past, and this one was no less enjoyable to listen to. Perhaps the saddest thing is the length - it's only 4 hours long, and usually Pollen's work is closer to 10 hours.

*Writes review while chugging second cup of cold brew, with another waiting in the fridge*

What? I don't have a problem.

*has a problem*
Apr 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: food-drink
A clever, informative, and at times cutting quick survey of Caffeine. Exactly what one would expect from Pollan in a long-form essay.
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This audiobook contains more info about the history, use, and efficacy of caffeine than you'll ever need to know. But if you ever wonder what caffeine is actually doing to your body, and on the fence about whether you should continue drinking that daily cup of Joe, this audiobook will help you make that decision. It's non-biased and informative. I think it's a must-listen for anybody that uses caffeine regularly. ...more
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
This has me seriously considering giving up coffee... next year.

On a serious note, this was good! I wasn’t expecting the amount of historical information which I found interesting. I liked how it was not preachy or judge-mental but allowed the readers to draw their own conclusions based on historical events, experiments, research and advice from experts in various fields.
Joe Kraus
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I know a lot of people praise Pollan’s An Omnivore’s Dilemma as a superb book, but I have never gotten around to reading it. Instead, I offer my praise for his Botany of Desire, one of the – if not the single best – science-writing books I’ve ever read.

Botany of Desire takes as its premise that, for all we think we’re in control, plants use us for their own ends. He points out, in one of his four compelling chapters, that a handful of apple trees have more or less conquered the world. Apples, he
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Did you know that before the British drank tea, they drank coffee? In this fun little book we learn all the interesting parts of caffeines history. A story that is briefly derailed when the author decides to give up caffeine in an experiment. What follows is a bit of an ADD read that actually made they story even more fun. Turns out giving up the worlds most popular drug of choice will make you want to stay in bed forever and maybe give up on living. Spoiler: he makes it through. :)
Oct 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting read ⭐️ Never knew caffeine had this much effect on our world.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Michael Pollan's Caffeine is a short (2 hour) stand-alone audiobook, but it could just as easily be read as a coda to his earlier works, Botany of Desire, Omnivore's Dilemma, Cooked, and How to Change Your Mind. Here are some recognizably "Michael Pollan" details from Caffeine. Do caffeine producing plants succeed because we have planted them everywhere, or do they instead use us to spread everywhere? Pollan considers whether caffeine could explain the Enlightenment in part because people stoppe ...more
Mar 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2020-reads
I read this in February and checked my list and it’s disappeared. I noticed another reviewer saying they also reviewed this already but couldn’t remember. Weird glitch. Anyway just rewriting to say hard pass on this one.
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-books
Pollan's a good storyteller and it was an interesting accompaniment to my cleaning this afternoon. Will probably keep drinking my 2 cups of coffee or tea every morning (by 10 am.) My favorite part was visiting the Peruvian coffee farm. ...more
Circe Link
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have to admit I love pretty much everything the man does and this delightfully thought provoking tidbit is no exception. As a chipper in the world of caffeine it was fascinating to learn about the history, science and various effects this world dominating drug has had on us all.
Gregory D.
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So "Created the Modern World" seems a big boast until you realize that he isn't kidding. The influx of caffeine, via coffee into the western world just as the Age of Exploration led to both some astounding innovations, and some terrible ones. A few examples of the latter: the increase in slave labor to work coffee and sugar plantations in the West Indies to break the Arab chokehold on coffee supply. The English obsession with tea came because they couldn't get a piece of the coffee market, so th ...more
Bianca A.
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, audiobooks
Short and sweet audiobook of only 2h supplied for free from Audible coupled with an active subscription. I find audiobooks an excellent means of allowing my eyes to rest while continuing to hammer at knowledge in a structured way.
Michael Pollan is an American author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism.
He did an excellent job with this piece of info
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Michael Pollan is one of my favorite authors, and his works, especially Omnivore's Dilemma, have truly been life-changing for me. I can't thank him enough. I found his experimentation with caffeine and its addiction very interesting. I was shocked to really think about how many billions of humans are addicted. I know I'm addicted, but living without the hot beverage we call Coffee is not worth overcoming it. It's amazing how a plant can produce a chemical that has such a powerful hold over most ...more
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Erin, Brigham
Recommended to Megan by: Audible Originals
Although I'm a big fan of Michael Pollan, one of my favorite food authors, I wondered whether I'd have any personal connection to this topic. I don't drink coffee or tea, or caffeinated sodas, so I wasn't sure that a whole book about caffeine would be applicable/interesting.
I was so wrong. I headed first on an anecdotal journey of Pollan going through coffee/caffeine withdrawals as he decided that in order to write a book about caffeine, he had to go without. I felt concerned that he was so inca
Cathy D
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I found this to be an incredibly entertaining and informative book on the history of caffeine, and all the wonderful and insidious ways that it draws us in and holds us captive to the cuppa.
As a coffee lover I was very interested in the science and history as much as the path this lovely bean made in its way into many hearts, minds, and bloodstreams. :)
Arju Palikhey
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am never quitting coffee and perhaps I'll be intoxicated in sobriety forever. ...more
Claire Sheats
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Interesting facts and science behind caffeine. Inspired me to quit drinking coffee....for a little while. :)
Dec 23, 2020 rated it liked it
This was really interesting. As someone who had to give up coffee for a YEAR due to some stomach issues, I can completely relate to the giving-up-caffeine-cold-turkey disaster. HINT: it sucks. There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't have the craving and assure myself that "Oh, just today; it's ok just for today," whether I gave in or not. I'm back on the juice now, but if I had more self control I'd try to give it up again!

I love Pollan's writing in general, so it was really interesting to
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This one was an Audible Original and was only two hours of listening time -- but it was really enjoyable! Pollan (who also wrote “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” – very good!) gave quite a bit of detail about the history and origin of caffeine, how it entered society, and what an impact it has made, then and now. He told some about how it affects us -- the good and the bad -- and he even gave up caffeine for three months while writing this to test out what he had learned. As a caffeine consumer myself, ...more
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Michael Pollan is an American author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is also the director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism.

Excerpted from Wikipedia.

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