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A History of the World in 6 Glasses Audiobook

A History of the World in 6 Glasses

Throughout human history, certain drinks have done much more than just quench thirst. As Tom Standage relates with authority and charm, six of them have had a surprisingly pervasive influence on the course of history, becoming the defining drink during a pivotal historical period. A History of the World in 6 Glasses tells the story of humanity from the Stone Age to the 21st century through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola.
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Audible Editor Reviews

The precursor to his equally excellent book on hunger through the ages, An Edible History of Humanity, Tom Standage here charts the developmental course of beverages and their significance for human progress. Standage is really a journalist and a technologist, so A History of the World in Six Glasses is not your average history book. The author is clearly well-researched, but it’s his parlaying of the facts into a cohesive evolutionary narrative that keeps things interesting. Liquid refreshment is an essential part of our existence, and Standage doesn’t simply map out the parallel developments of drink and civilization, but more excitingly, builds a strong case for how each drink has made foundational contributions to its era.

Earphones Award winner and Audie Award-winning producer Sean Runnette does a terrific job of letting beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola speak for themselves. Standage has set forth a tone that is highly interested, but not pedantic or overly exclamatory. Runnette knows just what it takes to fade away into the background, neither bombastically lecturing to the listener nor merely monotonously reading Standage’s text. Every pause is justified and every consonant is crisp. This is nothing less than expected from Runnette, who has been in the audiobook business for more than a decade and is the son of Grammy Award-winning producer John Runnette. As the beverage cultures advance, Runnette increasingly recedes, leaving the text to shine on its own surprising merits.

No matter what your choice of drink, hearing more about its influence on the world is actually quite engrossing. Of particular interest is the appendix at the end, where you can learn about exactly which modern beers most closely resemble the ale of yore, which ancient blends of tea are still available today, and so on. Standage also gives us a taste of the future and comes full circle by speculating on the new millennial prospects for water, that most basic of all beverages. An underrated gem of scholarship, A History of the World in Six Glasses is completely worth the listen for all the fascinating tidbits you will soak up and then deliver the next time you’re pouring a glass of wine at a dinner party, or meeting someone for coffee. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

Throughout human history, certain drinks have done much more than just quench thirst. As Tom Standage relates with authority and charm, six of them have had a surprisingly pervasive influence on the course of history, becoming the defining drink during a pivotal historical period.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses tells the story of humanity from the Stone Age to the 21st century through the lens of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. Beer was first made in the Fertile Crescent and by 3000 B.C.E. was so important to Mesopotamia and Egypt that it was used to pay wages. In ancient Greece, wine became the main export of her vast seaborne trade, helping spread Greek culture abroad. Spirits such as brandy and rum fueled the Age of Exploration, fortifying seamen on long voyages and oiling the pernicious slave trade. Although coffee originated in the Arab world, it stoked revolutionary thought in Europe during the Age of Reason, when coffeehouses became centers of intellectual exchange. And hundreds of years after the Chinese began drinking tea, it became especially popular in Britain, with far-reaching effects on British foreign policy. Finally, though carbonated drinks were invented in 18th-century Europe, they became a 20th-century phenomenon, and Coca-Cola in particular is the leading symbol of globalization.

For Tom Standage, each drink is a different kind of technology, a catalyst for advancing culture by which he demonstrates the intricate interplay of different civilizations. You may never look at your favorite beverage the same way again.

©2005 Tom Standage (P)2011 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"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." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Guns4all 12-05-12
    Guns4all 12-05-12 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Made me want a drink--which is good!"

    Why is this book good? Because it caused me to memorize parts, share them with others, and reflect upon what I learned.

    It's history in a bottle! Or, cask/cup/stein.

    This book could have been almost twice as long and still a good read. The only part that got long to me was the greek/roman culture and wine portion--but the wine portion was my least favorite, anyways.

    This book was so good, that it has caused me to read several other books written along similar lines.

    The narrator was a bit slow and not quite as inflective as I like, but I got used to him quickly and was no problem.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ttim San Francisco, CA, United States 11-19-12
    Ttim San Francisco, CA, United States 11-19-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Very interesting read"

    Excellent book packed full of fascinating statistics and little nuggets of information. The one slight criticism is that I don't believe that Coca Cola really qualifies as a drink that has changed history. Rather, it owes its spread and success to the spread of US influence. Even so, the book is well worth the read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    christine Marlton, NJ, United States 11-08-12
    christine Marlton, NJ, United States 11-08-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Another excellent history book on beverages"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. I love trivia as well as history. This book delivers on the history of six different beverages. Tea, beer, coffee, coke etc. my favorite was where did beer originate. Coffee too. I think many will be surprised with some of the information in this book.


    Any additional comments?

    Listened to it on my way to North Carolina

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon Schafer Bennett The Woodlands, TX, United States 11-05-12
    Sharon Schafer Bennett The Woodlands, TX, United States 11-05-12 Member Since 2014

    My reading and listening tastes are eclectic.

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    "The World Revolves Around Beverages"

    With the interesting premise that what people are drinking has a major influence on world history, the author makes a good case that it is true. I learned a some stuff I didn't know, got a whole new (and radically different) insight into some of the world's history turning points, and realized that like the book about the history of salt and its influence on historic events state, history does not happen in a vacuum. It is an entertaining and informative listen that is well read by Mr. Runnette. I look forward to more texts by Mr. Standage.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Aaron Portland,Me United States 10-29-12
    Aaron Portland,Me United States 10-29-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Fun information!"
    Where does A History of the World in 6 Glasses rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Of my Nonfiction downloads, this is one of my favorites!


    What did you like best about this story?

    Great into!


    Any additional comments?

    I learned a lot and enjoyed it at the same time....already listened to it twice and recommended it to friends.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Danelle 09-27-12
    Danelle 09-27-12
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    "Great info, dry delivery"
    Would you try another book from Tom Standage and/or Sean Runnette?

    I would try another book by Tom, but not narrated by Sean. Sean's delivery is very monotone and dry.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I love all of these beverages, so hearing the history of them and how they affected our world was a pleasure!


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Sean Runnette?

    I am not as familiar with the variety of narrators, but the delivery was very monotone and dry. This topic should be sparked with enthusiasm, so any narrator with a bit more passion in his/her voice would have been better. Still worth the listen.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    can't see this book as a movie at all


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia LEESBURG, VIRGINIA, United States 09-25-12
    Cynthia LEESBURG, VIRGINIA, United States 09-25-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Can't stop talking about this book"

    I have been talking to all my friends about this book every since I read it. Fascinating concept and one that really provides a great review of world history as well as some astounding trivia about the beverages you find yourself drinking regularly. Makes for great party conversation!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Troy, MI, United States 09-18-12
    Richard Troy, MI, United States 09-18-12 Member Since 2010

    old swimmer

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    "More than I expected"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    You should enjoy history books, but even if you don't, this is a very interesting book that is both compelling and informative.This story was well reviewed, but even then it was a well crafted "history" book that brings the context of various beverages into highly interesting context. I guess that it would be all too easy for the author to claim that all of the world is ruled by what they drink. But care is taken not to go over the top on that claim.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I think that the construction of the story is very much like a novel. Three alcoholic beverages followed by three caffeine containing beverages was interesting. The volume of alcohol routinely consumed by early man - probably a life saver from a public health perspective given early sanitary conditions - was staggering and revealing. Was the age of enlightenment and industrial revolution fueled by caffeine? Some of the historical speculation is just fascinating.


    Which character – as performed by Sean Runnette – was your favorite?

    There are no real "characters" in this book. It is a book of facts well woven into an interesting theme.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Not really an applicable question for this book. It is a solid "story" from start to finish.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bob Fox Valley, Saskatchewan, Canada 09-10-12
    Bob Fox Valley, Saskatchewan, Canada 09-10-12 Member Since 2008
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    "What a unique way to connect the dots of history"
    Where does A History of the World in 6 Glasses rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This book has lead me on a further journey of discovery. Have just finished Salt which is a look at the influence of salt on the development of nations.


    What other book might you compare A History of the World in 6 Glasses to and why?

    "Salt", because it looks at the influence of salt on historical trends and events. Am also looking at Fermenting Revolution which is the story of beer from an historic angl


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul 08-20-12
    Paul 08-20-12 Member Since 2011

    Paul

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    "Amazing story - Such a Cool History"
    What made the experience of listening to A History of the World in 6 Glasses the most enjoyable?

    I really enjoyed this audiobook. It starts with a quote that says something along the lines of there are no true histories of the human race, only various histories of human activity. This book puts forward an amazing history of the human race through the lens of our beverages. I have been dropping these facts on my wife for three weeks. She's been kind of astounded by the change in worldview that this book is brought about in me. I've been delighted by the stories, which are fast-paced and informative. Just the right balance of information and example..


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A History of the World in 6 Glasses?

    The role of beer in establishing the first settlements of mankind. I know it's a little speculative, but it made tons of sense and was really awesome to think about.


    What does Sean Runnette bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The pacing is really excellent. I never once thought that I'm listening to an audiobook, more that I'm listening to a story.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I was really shocked at the description of the early coffee houses in England and how much that contributed to the rise of the Enlightenment. I mean, this is like our entire worldview came from this one social experience, which had at its core the imbibement of a slightly stimulating drink. We are amazing creatures.


    Any additional comments?

    A great listen! If you like history and science and social theory, this book is gonna be awesome for you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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