We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
 >   > 
A History of the World in 6 Glasses | [Tom Standage]

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.
Regular Price:$20.99
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

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

4.0 (1321 )
5 star
 (413)
4 star
 (570)
3 star
 (275)
2 star
 (40)
1 star
 (23)
Overall
4.1 (1121 )
5 star
 (413)
4 star
 (447)
3 star
 (214)
2 star
 (32)
1 star
 (15)
Story
3.9 (1120 )
5 star
 (334)
4 star
 (474)
3 star
 (250)
2 star
 (37)
1 star
 (25)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Stoker Austin, TX, United States 09-09-11
    Stoker Austin, TX, United States 09-09-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    32
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fun and Informative"

    I expected this book to be mostly composed of trivia. Instead I was pleasantly surprised with the breath of historical information it provided. I'm relatively knowledgeable of ancient history, but still most of what this book reports was new to me as nearly all historical accounts gloss over the significant impact these beverages have had in shaping their respective cultures. Thus, this book was very illuminating, well documented, and enjoyable. And the narrator's voice is engaging as well. Highly recommended!

    32 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric San bernardino, CA, United States 10-21-11
    Eric San bernardino, CA, United States 10-21-11 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    169
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    129
    31
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    11
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Delicious and Informative"

    Very informative and full of history that people can relate to on a personal level. I won’t look at a glass of tea or beer again without thinking “Wow, I really know a huge amount about where this came from and the socio-politics that made this drink possible.”
    Interesting thing that stuck in my brain was that the Industrial Revolution began around the same time that people stopped drinking Beer for breakfast (not a joke) and switched to Coffee and Tea.

    Great information presented in an easily digested manner.

    21 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ethan M. Cambridge, MA 07-26-12
    Ethan M. Cambridge, MA 07-26-12 Member Since 2000

    On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1641
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    136
    86
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    631
    13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Adds to the history-told-from-a-quirky-angle genre"

    I've listened to a history of the world based around salt, and another based around cod. This book made a nice case that history might be better with a drink.

    It is a popular history of 3,500+ years in 7 or so hours, and, appropriately, the book remained fast and engaging. rather than deep. Each drink is used to focus on a specific period of history, rather than the complete history of each drink. Beer is used to look at the rise of civilization, the narrative switches to wine when considering the rise of Greece and Rome, moves to coffee for the Enlightenment, and so on. As a result, sometimes cause and effect can be rather unconvincing - did coffee really cause the Enlightenment - but Standage never gets too over-the-top in his claims, and is always happy to introduce another interesting fact or vignette.

    Even as someone who listens to a lot of these sorts of histories, this book had quite a few new insights, and old stories told in engaging ways. The reading is uninspired but serviceable, and doesn't detract from an all-around solid popular history.

    18 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    andrew Bountiful, UT, United States 11-25-11
    andrew Bountiful, UT, United States 11-25-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    129
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    46
    44
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    8
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Greatly Enjoyed"

    Thoroughly recommend this book. Pleasantly read, researched and written. Not too long, but packed full of information. Every chapter is good. Takes you around the world in a brilliant concept. I have a hard time selecting a highlight. But the argument that coffee launched the Enlightenment is very thought provoking. Not too much can really be said. Either you are the kind of person who likes food history, or history told from creative, specific angles, or you are not. Similar to Kulanski with "Salt" and "Cod", or the "Botany of Desire".

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ben BELLINGHAM, WA, United States 11-29-12
    Ben BELLINGHAM, WA, United States 11-29-12 Member Since 2005

    Ben ji

    HELPFUL VOTES
    59
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    90
    26
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An amazing perspective on world history"

    There is a brilliant insight here...the history of the world as seen through the sorts of drinks that predominate in each time; beer, wine, spirits, tea, coffee, and Coke. It is a story that is absolutely fascinating and wonderfully told.

    This is just the sort of book that relaxes you - interesting, new, original, insightful....I could go on, but if you have a notion to listen to this one, just do it. You won't be disappointed.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saud United States 07-19-11
    Saud United States 07-19-11 Member Since 2007

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    454
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    259
    202
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    32
    71
    Overall
    "Exciting and unique journey through history"

    I enjoyed this book, and all the richness of historic information about the importance of the drinks that moved and drove the world. I will never look at a cup of tea, coffee or coke the same way again.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Yoshida Pasadena, CA USA 12-14-13
    A. Yoshida Pasadena, CA USA 12-14-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    208
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    90
    71
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    150
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Who knew history could be so interesting"

    This book gives an interesting perspective on history, following six drinks: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola. It's amazing to learn how these drinks played a key part in the development of civilization. They were used as currency and they caused disputes between countries (Boston Tea Party and Opium Wars). The author does a wonderful job in researching the relevant facts and explaining the popularity of the different drinks in different parts of the world, like why the English loves their tea and the American loves their cola. I also learned that coffee originated in the Arab world. As it became popular, the coffee bean was taken to other countries for cultivation, including Brazil (which is now the largest coffee producing country).

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Australia 09-07-12
    Joseph Australia 09-07-12 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    119
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    62
    47
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    14
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Drink Up"

    "This is a fascinating lens through which to view history. I was amazed at the impact these six beverages had on the course of human events."

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    beau melbourne, Australia 06-28-12
    beau melbourne, Australia 06-28-12

    I'm a horticulturist so I am mainlined to audible constantly while doing a spot of gardening. I prefer non-fiction as I like walking away from work with a bit of extra knowledge, but have recently found a beautiful escape in fiction titles which bring their own knowledge with them, I guess...

    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Head half full"

    Content rich, very informative. Full of 'ooooh' and 'aaaaah' moments.
    Great stories to recount over beverages with friends while drinking, you can make uninvited comments about the drink you're sipping and sound like a right wanker... In a good way.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carroll Alexandria, VA, United States 09-08-11
    Carroll Alexandria, VA, United States 09-08-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    68
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    156
    81
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Superb work"

    A very worthwhile 'listen'. Well researched & presented in a smotth, flowing sweep of trade & modernization.

    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 118 results PREVIOUS1212NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

CANCEL

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.