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A History of The World in 6 Glasses Summary – May 2022

Author: Tom Standage

Short Summary
A History of The World in 6 Glasses (2005) is like a time machine that will take you to the times of the Greeks, Romans, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and up to recent times but not in an ordinary way. It describes history through the help of drinks that were dominant at that time including beer, wine, alcoholic spirits, tea, coffee, and soda.
a history of the world in 6 glasses summary
Source: amazon.com

A History of the World in 6 Glasses Detailed Summary

This book distinguishes between different periods of time through our favorite drinks. Whether you enjoy a glass of beer after work to calm your nerves or you are a caffeine addict who cannot function without coffee to save his life. This book will teach you lots of fun stuff about your favorite drink all the while teaching you history. From the times of the Greeks, the Fertile Crescent (which is known as Egypt and the Middle East in the present age), and Romans to the twentieth century.

The author has some solid points to make when he explains how civilization was at least influenced if not completely affected by these drinks. It presents a fascinating and distinct angle to look at the beverages on your kitchen shelf.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses Summary Key Points

Beer was Discovered not Invented

Let me take you back in time to Egypt and the Middle East. Where Cereal Grains were produced in huge amounts during 10,000 BC. Before that humans were mostly into hunting and eating. There was not a concrete concept of growing stuff and consuming it later. As the Fertile Crescent started producing cereal, they soon realized its benefits. One of these benefits was the ability of cereal to be stored. The meat they would hunt could not be stored as it would go stale when left for long periods. So, they begin growing and storing it.

Soon they found out that soaking grains would produce malt and when malt was left for a few days it fermented into a fizzy drink. That is how Beer was discovered! As people wanted to use cereal over hunting fresh, they settled into areas with huge lands. So they could have food that could be stored for months. As cereal become a common part of their lives due to convenience, beer became common too.

Wine Represented Class and Status

Just like today when people are judged based on their taste in wine, people back then judged each other over the quality of wine one possessed. However, it was extremely expensive and not that common in old age. If someone could import wine for a festive gathering, they had held, this added to their prestige and honor. In ancient Greek wine was a part of meetings among the politicians and intellectuals. The intellectual elites preferred to read and write poetry while consuming wine. So it became an important component of poetry recitals and parties. As the Greeks had power and influence over the whole world, the culture of consuming wine spread too. Soon when Rome overpowered the Greeks the finest grape wine started being produced in Italy, Rome.

Rum Was Used as a Currency

Well, it might be common for you to know today how spirit cleans wounds and assists in healing but back then it was a mystery. The wine was distilled by an alchemist who copied the process from an Arab book of the 12th century and the product was spirit and rum. The process of distillation became widely popular. Many lands were invaded solely on the fact that these lands had sugar cane. Production of Rum and spirit became so popular that Rum was even used as currency in the Caribbean.

Coffee Might Have Aided in Producing Some of the Best Literature

The demand for Coffee started from the Arab countries. However, by the end of the seventeenth century, it had become popular in most of Europe. As it did not intoxicate people like wine and beer did, it became a popular choice for people who needed a beverage while working during the day. Separate coffee houses were established where politicians, academicians, philosophers, and leaders would get together to discuss important issues. Unlike wine and beer, coffee provided them an opportunity to get their heads straight. That was what the intellectuals preferred instead of getting drunk at a tavern at 9 am on a working day.

Coffee houses were associated with the circulation of customers, publications, and information from one area to the next. Coffee houses became so common and popular in France that would stay there the whole day discussing important affairs from politicians to the common masses. Some people also argue that coffee houses and coffee to be precise might be the reason behind the French Revolution and the fall of monarchy!

A History of World in 6 Glasses Quotes

“ Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever. —Aristophanes, Greek comic poet (c. 450-385 BCE)” ― Tom Standage

John Adams, by then one of the country’s founding fathers, wrote to a friend: “I know not why we should blush to confess that molasses was an essential ingredient in American independence. Many great events have proceeded from much smaller causes.” ― Tom Standage

A History of World in 6 Glasses Summary Review

This book is an exceptional and mind-blowing ticket to traveling through centuries without getting bored of the unnecessary details that have taken place in all these years. Standage very intellectually relates the flow of history with the most famous drinks of mankind. There is no better way to learn so much about history starting from the Greeks to the new ages than going through these three hundred pages. An enjoyable read with lots of information!

To Whom I Would Recommend a History of World in 6 Glasses Summary

  • To the eighteen-year-old history student in college who struggles to learn about the important periods.
  • Anyone whose favorite beverage is one of the following: beer, wine, rum, tea, coffee, or soda.
  • And to anyone curious about the history of beverages and their relationship with humans.

Link: https://amzn.to/3zlChRs