320 pages, 7.98 × 5.1 × 0.67 in
August 22, 2006
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0385660871
ISBN - 13: 9780385660877
Read from the Book
IntroductionVital FluidsThere is no history of mankind, there are only many histories of all kinds of aspects of human life.—Karl Popper, philosopher of science (1902—94)Thirst is deadlier than hunger. Deprived of food, you might survive for a few weeks, but deprived of liquid refreshment, you would be lucky to last more than a few days. Only breathing matters more. Tens of thousands of years ago, early humans foraging in small bands had to remain near rivers, springs, and lakes to ensure an adequate supply of freshwater, since storing or carrying it was impractical. The availability of water constrained and guided humankind’s progress. Drinks have continued to shape human history ever since.Only in the past ten thousand years or so have other beverages emerged to challenge the preeminence of water. These drinks do not occur naturally in any quantity but must be made deliberately. As well as offering safer alternatives to contaminated, disease-ridden water supplies in human settlements, these new beverages have taken on a variety of roles. Many of them have been used as currencies, in religious rites, as political symbols, or as sources of philosophical and artistic inspiration. Some have served to highlight the power and status of the elite, and others to subjugate or appease the downtrodden. Drinks have been used to celebrate births, commemorate deaths, and forge and strengthen social bonds; to seal business transactions and treaties; to sharpen the senses or dull the min
From the Publisher
Whatever your favourite tipple, when you pour yourself a drink, you have the past in a glass.
You can likely find them all in your own kitchen — beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, cola. Line them up on the counter, and there you have it: thousands of years of human history in six drinks.
Tom Standage opens a window onto the past in this tour of six beverages that remain essentials today. En route he makes fascinating forays into the byways of western culture: Why were ancient Egyptians buried with beer? Why was wine considered a “classier” drink than beer by the Romans? How did rum grog help the British navy defeat Napoleon? What is the relationship between coffee and revolution? And how did Coca-Cola become the number one poster-product for globalization decades before the term was even coined?
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Tom Standage is the technology correspondent for The Economist. His previous books include The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-Line Pioneers and The TURK: The Life and Times of the Famous Eighteenth-Century Chess-Playing Machine. He lives with his wife and daughter in Greenwich, England.
From the Hardcover edition.
“Ingenious. . . . [Standage] combines a lively writing style with a wonderful collection of anecdotes. . . . His book sparkles like champagne.” —The Gazette (Montreal) “A wonderful synthesis of the march of time. Standage has that uncanny ability so rare in a writer to connect the smallest details to sweeping changes in history.” —Financial Post “Standage’s bright idea really is bright. . . . Far from being frivolous, the author has legitimate points to make. . . [He] manages to be incisive, illuminating and swift.” —The New York Times “Standage’s historical division works fantastically well. His history of the technology and culture of quenching our thirst is a thought-provoking look at what we drink today and how it offers insight into our past.” —The Toronto Star“Lucid [and] energetic. . . . In A History of the World in Six Glasses, Standage reaches beyond the commonplace to uncover universal significance. . . . Entertaining [and] thought-provoking.” —Winnipeg Free Press"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 Economist's technology editor has the ability to connect the smallest detail to the big picture and a knack for summarizing vast concepts in a few sentences. In and around these grand ideas, Standage tucks some wonderful tidbits — on the antibacterial qualities of tea, Mecca's coffee trials in 1511, Visigoth penal