A History of the World in Six Glasses

Publisher: Anchor Canada
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.



Vital Fluids

There 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)

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“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 penalties for destroying vineyards -- ending with a delightful appendix suggesting ways readers can sample ancient beverages."
Publishers Weekly

"Technology historian Standage follows the flow of civilization as humanity guzzles a half-dozen prime beverages. He offers a distilled account of civilization founded on the drinking habits of mankind from the days of hunter-gatherers to yesterday's designer thirst-quencher. History, along with a bit of technology, etymology, chemistry and bibulous entertainment. Bottoms up!"

Praise for Tom Standage:

“Fascination, obsession, inquiry, storytelling, and literary magic at its best.”
—Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman and The Map That Changed the World

“Standage is a terrific writer.”
The New York Times Book Review