A History of the World in 6 Glasses

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A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage is a non-fiction historical novel, whose main purpose is to show the surprisingly pervasive influence of certain drinks on the course of history. Then it takes the reader on a journey through time to show the history of mankind through the lens of beverages.

The thesis of the novel is that through history certain specialty beverages have affected more than just the diet of people and changed political aspects, economic standings, religious ceremonies and social views throughout human history. Standage clearly favors the subject written about and offers no information or analysis to disprove the thesis of the novel. Tom Standage is an author of 3 other novels, which are also historic analyses, which support his information and research provided in this book. Standage’s professional background gives novel its authority.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses is broken down into six sections, one for each drink, the first of which is beer. Man's first civilizations where founded after the adoption of farming and the domestication of cereal grains. This improvement in lifestyle helped the “emergence of administrators, scribes, and craftsmen.” [1] Not only did beer nourish man’s first civilizations, but also “their wages and rations were paid in bread and beer.” [2] Wine, the next beverage, played a major role in the flourishing Greek and Roman cultures. Wine initiated vast seaborne trade, which spread their philosophy, politics, and literature. The book points out how these advancements originated and grew at formal Greek drinking parties. The Romans, who absorbed much of Greek culture, continued the strong use of wine.

After the middle ages, Europe was awakened by the discovery of ancient knowledge, safeguarded by Arab scholars. The Age of Exploration/Colonial Period was improved by the knowledge of distillation, which made new drinks. The novel describes how these condensed forms of alcohol (Brandy, Rum etc.)...
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