Chapters 7-12 of A History of the World in 6 glasses outline the “other” 3 drinks, the non-alcoholic beverages that changed history. Up to this point, alcoholic beverages provided a much needed source of purified liquid, as well as nourishment (to say nothing of their entertainment value!). Through the brewing of beer, pressing of wine, and distillation of spirits, the incidence and impact of water-borne disease was greatly diminished, increasing life-expectancy. The usefulness and desire for alcohol also led to it becoming one of the first forms of fungible currency, and led to the development of rudimentary forms of accounting.
The only problem? People were wandering around drunk all the time!
Coffee, Tea, and Coca-Cola took the world from a general state of ‘buzzed’ to mental clarity in daily life. Coffee and tea gave birth to some of the greatest philosophical and political thinking in modern history, as well as fueled the Industrial Revolution. Coca-Cola took the new freedom found in democracy and spread it from the United States around the world, one country at a time. These three drinks still have an enormous impact on daily life; it’s difficult to imagine a social gathering without one or all of them available!
Starting this book, I was skeptical that history could be framed in terms of six beverages. But it’s clear that the author, Tom Standage, took great pride in researching this book (which is evident by the detailed appendix and source list) and re-told history in a very easy-going, laid-back manner. Luckily, the learning doesn’t stop there, as the class will be meeting Mr. Standage as one of the guest speakers at the London residency. Hopefully he’ll stick around for a few pints afterwards.
I haven’t finished the book, but I just got to the wine part. Being a Muslim I have never actually had alcohol, but I can definitely see why and how it was/is such an important drink, I liked the way the Mr. Standage differentiates between the attitudes of the Mesopotamians and Egyptians on beer drinking. The Meso’s encouraged the buzz while the Egyptians encourages strict self control.
Actually, the ban on alcohol is something that is pervasively ingrained into Muslims since childhood. The effects of the kind of binge drinking I saw in college just re-enforced my thoughts on the matter. But then again, I know when you are trying to find something wrong about a topic you usually find it. The differences between the American and European view of alcohol is something I have actually been quite interested in discussing with someone who as experience in the issue.
[…] touristy things, I would love to see the regular haunts of locals. After reading how Coffee shops (History of the world in 6 glasses) have influenced the development of London I would love to go by and check out some of […]
[…] time in both researching the material and in telling a compelling story. As I wrote in my ‘6 Glasses‘ reviews, I cannot wait for the opportunity to meet Mr. Standage and discuss his works, and […]