A History of the World in 6 Glasses

A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage (Walker & Company, 2006).

It’s not easy to summarize the entire history of the world in a couple hundred pages, but Standage does, and makes it interesting. His premise is that you can divide world history into six stages, each of which is represented by a dominant beverage. They are: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola. Except for Coca-Cola, they are all basically ways of making water more palatable and safe, before water purification techniques are invented. It is fascinating to learn how much of an impact these six beverages have had on world history, particularly on trade and politics. Other than this unusual perspective, Standage’s world history is fairly standard textbook stuff, with few surprises. Still, it’s well-written and entertaining, and worth a few evenings of reading.

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