I was lent this book by my daughter-in-law who thought I would enjoy it. She knows me well! A book on the history of spirits touches on a number of my interests. Tom Standage has written an informative and enjoyable book about the history of six drinks: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. Not just a dry history, Stafford gives us cultural insights, anecdotes, and how these beverages have affected trade, social traditions, politics, history, and more.
Six sections cover the six “glasses.” A type of beer was first brewed in Mesopotamia and Egypt around 3000 BC; wine was the main export of ancient Greece and Rome and primary their cultures; spirits were drinks that could last for long sea voyages during the age of exploration; Arabian coffee became the staple drink for intellectuals during the age of Reason; tea was a major cultural element in China and became the drink associated with the British Empire; and cola became the most popular drink in the 20th century.
Despite Standage’s extensive research and approach to connecting beverages to cultural and historical movements, the style is readable and interesting. Throughout, you’ll learn a lot about the beverages, but gain a review of history from a different perspective.
If the topic sounds interesting to you, you’ll enjoy this book. Like me, you’ll probably find yourself relating tidbits and anecdotes to friends and family as you partake of one of the mentioned drinks. It is an interesting, educational, and a fun read.
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