©2009 Tom Standage; (P)2009 Tantor
An Edible History is a wide world history of food, agriculture, and society. Standage, who wrote the wonderful book "The Victorian Internet" about the rise and role of the telegraph, writes even more comprehensively about food and it's role in history. It's rich with detail and yet paints a broad picture of food, economics, and science across thousands of years and the entire globe. The audio production is crisp, even with the occasional strangely acted-accented quotation.
A high quality, well written work translated effectively for the audio format.
As a social history buff, I really enjoyed this factual, yet entertaining account of history as seen through food. It reminds me of Guns, Germs & Steel, another of my favs. Works as an audiobook as well.
I am a clay sculptor and an art instructor at a community college. I mostly listen to audiobooks while I work in my home studio.
The information contained in this book is excellent, full and very interesting. I was disappointed with the frustrating narration and slightly stilted organization of the writing. Regardless of the minor writing style distractions and the major narration distractions, I would highly recommend the book.
I recently read Tom Standage's "History of the World in 6 Glasses." Similar to "An Edible History of Humanity," 6 glasses is a not-quite-chronological and broad-ranging history of the world focused on one aspect of humanity. Also similar to 6 glasses, Edible History is organized what feels like a 5 paragraph essay format or a textbook chapter. Standage starts with his general introduction to the chapter topic, fills it out with specific examples, interesting details and related stories or anecdotes. Unfortunately, he tends to then restate his "thesis" or the main chapter points before moving on to a related but separate topic which he introduces using similar phrasing to the previous topic introduction. I found this annoying at first (in both books) but was less bothered as the audiobook progressed (I skimmed the summaries in the 6 glasses book which I read instead of listening to).
The narrator's faults I had more trouble moving past. When the book began I thought I was listening to a filmstrip narration or an educational video being show during a particularly boring elementary school class. Later, when I had come to terms with the filmstrip-voice (though I never liked it), I was pained by the voices used by the narrator to distinguish quotes from various famous characters in the book. The Christopher Columbus voice was annoying, the Adam Smith voice was painful and the French pronunciation was painful to anyone who doesn't expect a nasal R in people and place names.
My frustrations with repetition and terrible narration aside, I enjoyed the book greatly. I was particularly pleased with some explanations on various topics that were more complete and more clear (except when spoken in French) than those I have read in previous books. I tend to devour a lot of this sort of book--idiosyncratic histories of specific topics--and I felt like this book was a complement to those I have read. On the few occasions when the author repeated information I already knew, he generally quickly related it to his topic of food and other ideas he had also been discussing.
Though the book suggests it will simply be a history of food, the author does an excellent job of integrating and incorporating politics, world events and individual experiences into his interpretation. I look forward to reading more of Tom Standage's work (hopefully with a different narrator).
There were a few remarkable specific areas where Standage improved upon my previous understanding of events or issues. Standage gave a much better explanation of the development of maize than I encountered in my previous reading (particularly Gavin Menzies' problematic 1421). I also was fascinated with the discussion of the health benefits of hunter-gather societies over agricultural ones and the explanation of why the nutritionally inferior agriculture took over and transformed the world.
Unfortunately I took notes for this book on my iPhone Audible App and the automatic spelling correction has replaced my note about something in 6000BCE in the near east with "bug blogs" I'm guessing they didn't have bug blogs in 6000BCE, so I'll have to go back and figure that out.
Narrator was not engaging and slow. I had to speed the reading up in order not fall asleep. The narrator for Standage's other book made the book come to life, this narrator did not.
Every book is worth considering. It's the kind of consideration on what to do with the book that differs.
I came into this after finishing A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage, and while he presents some interesting points about the impact of food on history, it isn't as catchy or memorable as the first book.
The sweep and span of this book is interesting and it's really captures everything in a nutshell. For example the most people think of farming as natural when actually farming is a technology and without farming humanity as we know would be very different. If farming is a technology and it is, then why is there such outrage over Bioengineering of crops when humans have been doing it since the very beginning of farming. These are some of the most important take aways and thoughts I have absorbed from this audio book.
The audio version ofers a layer of depth unseen, or better yet unheard, in the print version. Standage's word jump to life with Wilson's naration as each story of the long history of food unfolds.
Comprehensive for the most part allows me as a listener to understand the story a lot more than simply reading it.
This book for the most part made me hungry everytime I read it passed midnight. But what most suprised me is how pivital food is to various aspects of our world. I especially love how Standage broke the book into sections which focused on foods key issues. Like how farming came about to how food let to the fall of Communist Soviet Union.
Great read, especially since we all love food. This provide one of the best backgrounds of history around food to explain the mandane to extraordinary. Bon appetit!
Of all the books I have listened to, this is average. But I would like to think that I have listened to some rather good books over the years.
I loved the entwining of food into history. The book touched on many of my favorite reading topics, history, culture, politics, science and economics. It tied in many diciplines rather well.
Consistent and unobtrusive.
This book lacks the intellectual brilliance of Michael Pollan's work, and the reader is slow and ponderous. Still, there are a number of interesting historical perspectives on the history of food.
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