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A History of the World in 6 Glasses Audiobook

A History of the World in 6 Glasses

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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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  •  
    Natalie D 10-18-17
    Natalie D 10-18-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Absolutely amazing "

    An absolutely amazing book to listen to! If you love to learn about the history of Wine, Beer, Cola, Tea and more you should defiantly give this book a listen. Love that this book gives straight to the point information about these 6 beverages. The Narrator was a perfect match for this, felt like I was watching a documentary.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Marisia Robus 10-08-17
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    "I could not put the book down!"

    This was the most interesting book I had read in years! I learned so much and have read this book twice and recommended it to all my friends. You will not be sorry that you have read this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Jake 09-11-17
    Jake 09-11-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Lots of great facts"

    A little dry and fact heavy, but I learned a lot from this listen. Highly recommended if you want a lot of information on these six awesome beverages.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Frances 08-31-17
    Frances 08-31-17 Member Since 2015
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    "drinks"

    I like it. was interesting learned lots about different drinks and different countries. Will read again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    CJFLA 07-04-17
    CJFLA 07-04-17
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    "A different perspective on world history"
    Would you listen to A History of the World in 6 Glasses again? Why?

    Very interesting book about libations and how they have influenced world history - and health. Book is filled with all kinds of great cocktail conversation and answers to Jeopardy questions!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ArtsAndAttitudes 06-28-17
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    "Awesome Collective Connective Factual Trivia"
    What did you love best about A History of the World in 6 Glasses?

    I liked best the way the author has successfully connected to natural developed connectivity with the history of mankind. Historically when, where and how our societies developed and connect. Interesting this has always worked and with the same beat is still going on today with commodities, trades, corporations, relying on access to "The Need, Want and then The Connection".


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

    I really did relish the connection with the The New England Tea Party and the connection with England,.. NOW "I" understand exactly WHY the new Colonist picked the commodity of TEA!!! to overthrow. It was to vent their anger and send it's message to England,.. since England had the monopoly on the Tea Trade, freeing England to pass taxes,in amounts only limited to the most the colonist could pay. The Young Colonist was sending Britain a message,.. They threw all of 3 ships loaded with Tea overboard that night, leaving the harbor a mess of Tea. And other colony's follow in other ports in protest as well.


    What about Sean Runnette’s performance did you like?

    Yes,.. I appreciated his control of the ease he connects one first fact to the next connective fact,... it's a lot like that feeling of watching a band of horse running together with one lead horse,.. naturally beautiful... easy to listen to and imagine. He isn't trying to "sell me on the facts",.. the anxiety of selling his story is not in his voice,.. instead, he eases you into the logic and circumstances of each era.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Well,.. There are several tag lines which are obvious,.. But,... if I were to think "Out The Box" for one,.. I guess it might be,..something to do with the development of mankind, our daily needs and wants,.. with always that edge of desperate need to have it all. The name must take you from ancient then to modern, only as the author would naturally do... The name or title of the book is the all encompassing first message,.. Since the book is the author's Baby,... only can it be named by Him....


    Any additional comments?

    Yes,.. I have always wanted a book like this one,.. even as a child I remember wishing for one,... Thank YOU,... and May God Bless,...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Gavin 06-16-17
    Gavin 06-16-17 Member Since 2017
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    "interesting take on history."

    Just a different lens to look at history through. Good reading, and pacing was perfect.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer 06-08-17 Member Since 2017
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    "loved it!"

    so much interesting information! it made me feel connected to people in the past. would listen again!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Anonymous 05-24-17
    05-24-17
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    "interesting history"

    I enjoyed this history of something we all take for granted. I wonder what's the next big drink is going to be.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Megan S Kohler 04-27-17
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    "Euro-centric"

    The book was interesting and provided a good number of historical anecdotes, facts, and context for the development and use of the six drinks it covered. However, the main thesis that those drinks, in the order discussed were a way to understand historical events is very Euro-centric. Particularly with tea and coffee, the idea that they did not become important until the Western Europeans discovered them is just false. While the author did give a brief history of coffee in the Middle East and tea in China, the underlying argument that these beverages became important to global development when British people started drinking them seems a bit negligent. If the title had been "History of the Western World in 6 Glasses," I would have had no problems with it (although calling "spirits" one drink seems a bit of a cop out). The narrator did a good job conveying the message and feeling of the author and didn't noticeably mispronounce names or places, which is a pet peeve of mine. Overall, an enjoyable listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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