Book Review

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Gagandeep Singh

Book Review
A thesis can be defined as something an author tries to prove to their audience. A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage provides a very brilliant thesis. Tom Standage’s thesis is to inform the audience reading the book about the six vital drinks that helped make up history. He explains this by showing how the drink influenced major events around the globe. He begins with beer which the oldest from the six drinks and ends with the youngest drink Coca-Cola.

Standage explains how beer was important in the adoption in agriculture and the beginnings of civilizations. Farming became adapted by people in order to maintain a supply of beer. Farming surpluses allowed people of society to specialize on different activities. The consumption of beer also helped tip the balance away from the hunting and gathering lifestyle towards a farming and a sedentary lifestyle. This allowed the population to increase in size because there was a more sufficient supply of food and a more reliable food source. Beer was a safer to drink to water because it was made with boiling water. The high level of vitamin B became a replacement to the decline in the consumption of meat. Egyptians and Mesopotamians both believed that beer was an ancient, god given drink that supported their existence. They also saw it as their religious and cultural identity. It also had great social importance. Writing was invented in order to record the production and the distribution of beer. Beer became so popular that it was also a form of currency and payment. This displays that beer had growing influence and that it also became a symbol of prosperity. Ancient Cultures had also used beer in religious ceremonies, agricultural fertility rites and for funerals. Beer also led to the development of tools to collect process and store grain. According to Standage beer helped civilized men because beer created a sedentary lifestyle for them.

Standage depicts the importance of wine in Greece and Rome. Wine was regarded as a universal staple in the Roman and Greek Empire. Wine became the one of the main exports in these empires. Wine also showed class division among people. Wine also became used as a medicine to disinfect wounds and to regulate the humors. Wine became a symbol of social difference, a mark of wealth and the status of a drinker. Wine wealth and the property owning classes in Athens were classified according to their vineyard holding. Wine use in Roman culture differed from the way it was used in Greece. Wine in Greece was used at symposion, a forum in which the people drank as equals from a shared krater, pursuing pleasure and social enlightenment. In Rome it was used at a convivium which was an opportunity to emphasize social divisions, not to set them aside in alcoholic hazes. The seating arrangements were also less egalitarian than that of the symposion.

Standage displays how spirits played a major role in Colonial America, slavery and the American Revolution. The production of spirits is connected to slavery by playing a central role in the trading of the slaves. African slavers who supplied Europeans with slaves accepted a wide range of items in exchange but the slavers mostly desired to get spirits. Spirits were used to purchase, subdue, and control the slaves. Spirits were an essential staple in Colonial America because it alleviated stress, hardships, and provided a liquid form of central heating in the harsh freezing winters. Spirits also conveniently relieved stress for the colonists’ dependence on imports from Europe. It was also profitable manufactured item and it was very cheap. The French and Indian War put Britain in debt and thought that Americans should help foot the bill because the war was fought to help and benefit them. The sixpence per gallon on molasses was halved and the govt. took steps to ensure that the money was collected in full. New England rum distillers led to the...
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