A History of the World in 6 Glasses
A fun book about six beverages that have figured heavily in world history:
- Spirits (hard liquor, basically)
- Soft drinks
Each of these have influenced the world enormously in different ways. The world grew up around these drinks –
- People wanted access to them
- Congregating over them was a key societal influence
- Governments taxes them
- Moralists condemned them
- People went to war to get access to them
- Countries exported their culture through them in a kind of “beverage imperialism”
Example: tea played heavily in both the American Revolution and the British occupation of Hong Kong for 100 years. The book examines the history behind tea as a economic tool – how governments angered people by taxing it, and how it was used as currency in the opium trade.
Tom Standage is a great history writer. I also enjoyed his book about the history of the telegraph: The Victorian Internet
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