“If the sun never set on the British Empire, it was perpetually teatime, somewhere at least.”
“A History of the World in 6 Glasses” by Tom Standage
This is a book that has been on my To-Be-Read list for a long time, and my roommate happened to have a copy, as it usually is with a great deal of my To-Be-Read books. It was a good read, a quick read (I need those right now!), but a little disappointing over-all. A History of the World in 6 Glasses is an overview of history that moves through time and the development of civilization based on the popularity of six drinks: it all starts with beer in the Cradle of Life, moving alone to wine in the Greek and Roman times, then onto the discovery of spirits in the Age of Exploration and Colonization. After that, coffee sparked revolution and the Age of Reason, and tea fueled the Industrial Revolution. Lastly, Coca-Cola ruled the twentieth century, and Standage concludes that water will easily be the next drink to move our civilization along.
I feel a better, more appropriate title for this book would have been A History of Western Civilization in 6 Glasses; it seems a little unfair to suggest that tea, which has been around in the East for ages, only became ‘significant’ once the British started drinking it, though the explorations of other drinks tend to be a little more universal, if only slightly. It’s kind of a nit-picky thing, but the Euro-centrism of the book was a little off-putting. I also expected…more. Perhaps it’s the History major in me, but I was hoping for a much more thoughtful and in-depth exploration of these drinks and how they’ve influenced the world. It’s a very nice overview, though, and though a lot of the information wasn’t new to me, there were still a few tidbits I picked up on that I hadn’t known before. It’s a history book more for the casual reader looking for entertainment than for a buff in search of deep historical discourse.
I do have to admit, though, through nearly every different drink (with the exception of Coca-Coal, because I am not a fan of soda at all), Standage’s descriptions of the drinks, how they’re made, and how they’ve influenced the course of history, really, really made me want to imbibe in that drink! This was especially true for his chapters on beer and tea! Even just thinking about it is making me kind of want a beer right now, which is probably not good at eight o’clock in the morning. I guess I’ll just have to stick with coffee.
Books read: 55/100.