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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (4,805 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Tom Standage Narrator: Sean Runnette Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2011 ISBN: 9781452671499
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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 twenty-first 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. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The Economist‘s technology editor has the ability to connect the smallest detail to the big picture and a knack for summarizing vast concepts in a few sentences.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • 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 Starred Review

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 doreen | 2/4/2014

    " A History of the World in 6 Glasses is a delightfully informative book documenting human history through the spectrum of six beverages: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and Coca-Cola. It's a fun way of looking at history, and seeing what a major role these drinks have played in the course of human life. Some of the events these drinks have played a major role in include the slave trade, the French Revolution, the American Revolution and the Opium Wars between Britain and China. It's a wonderful book to read for food-lovers and those who like history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeff Bush | 2/4/2014

    " Fascinating. History interpreted from the perspective of what we drink. The crazy thing is that it works, with some important historical implications. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer Stuart | 2/3/2014

    " This isn't a book about branding, but it's full of interesting facts about the branding and marketing of the beverages discussed in the book and about consumerism in general that I, as a communications professional, found fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Adria232 | 2/1/2014

    " Well written and very entertaining. Seamlessly integrates the advent of man's six favorite beverages with the historical events surrounding them. Makes you think whenever you order your next beverage. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Psychonaut | 1/31/2014

    " informative, but a bit dry "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dragana | 1/24/2014

    " I got this for a research paper I was doing on coffee and it was a really great resource. I ended up reading the other sections as well because I liked the coffee section so much. I hadn't realized what an impact beverages could have on history and culture; it was definitely enlightening to see how much everyday drinks have changed society or the course of history. The book was also very well written and kept me interested the whole time; Standage may be writing history, but his writing isn't dry or boring like some history books can be. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chandra | 1/20/2014

    " Certainly an interesting, but the experience doesn't quite live up to the intrigue of the title. Reading much like a master's thesis, the book is well-researched in historical details (how beer was accidentally discovered, who showed up in London's coffee houses, etc.) and makes some connective leaps to political or philosophical movements, but often lacks the overarching perspective of how these beverages played a role in shaping human progress. Still a worthy read, if only for the historical tidbits and vocabulary expansion (he's crazy about the word abstemious) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kurt Kellersberger | 1/19/2014

    " A great book on the influence of six different types of beverages on the outcome of world history! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brittany Durgin | 1/14/2014

    " The story of war, the industrial revolution, our lingering overseas relationship feelings, and the coming of modern day through coffee, tea, beer, wine, spirits, and cola. Who know that Beer was an accident and was first drank in the early, early BC time? Not me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Darrell | 1/14/2014

    " It was ok. It was basically a walk through a bunch of history stuff, and how the different drinks played out through that period in world history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Judy | 1/11/2014

    " Easy and fun to read. Where would we be without our coffee, rum, wine, etc? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tim Stephens | 1/11/2014

    " If you enjoy history and beverages, you'll enjoy this book. Lots of interesting insights but ultimately it is a history book. Fortunately I really like history and am no stranger to all six glasses. :-) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura | 12/30/2013

    " Sure it's a general history lesson about the importance of beverages, but who doesn't want to know why we all clink glasses at a toast? If nothing else, the book is perfect fodder for cocktail party chatter. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tonia | 12/28/2013

    " loved it - and I'm not usually a history buff, but Standage is definitely one of those authors that turns the facts and dates into a very readable story that you just might learn a bit from. A lot of fun. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 12/16/2013

    " Very interesting book. You'll never look at spirits, wine, beer, coffee, tea and cola's the same. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Liz S | 9/29/2013

    " some interesting factoids, but honestly, this book's claims are vastly exaggerated. Beer did not cause us to cultivate eat grains, nor was tea the reason for the American revolution, nor did coffee cause the Enlightenment. This tendency to hyperbole was a disappointment. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Meg | 7/25/2013

    " Explains my fascination with all potent potables. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer Chapman | 6/30/2013

    " Entertaining look at some of my favorite beverages. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Benny | 5/27/2013

    " Not bad at all for a required reading and non-fiction. Very interesting stuff actually. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna Butler | 3/26/2013

    " Clever little history booklet with interesting facts/theories, starts with how beer was originally our potable water source, moving next to wine, spirits, coffee/ tea, cola and finally bottled water. Well done. I read one chapter at a time between my other books, one drink at a time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy | 8/28/2012

    " Foodie Book Club Book of the month for March. Good read, interesting facts. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Scott | 10/11/2011

    " Interesting where it dealt with the development of the different drinks, but totally oversimplified when it came to the influence of the drinks in history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 9/19/2011

    " filled with fun facts. the beer and wine sections were by far the most interesting, with cola being quite good as well. the section on spirits was pretty lame as there are too many types of hard liquor for this thin volume to do much justice. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sean | 9/2/2011

    " Interesting, but a bit too ambitious. Each chapter left me wanting more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan Cherney | 8/4/2011

    " Although I'm a bit skeptical about the author's constant argument of history bending under the power of these beverages directly, this is still one of my favorite non fiction books just for all the awesome facts and stories on some of the most delicious and iconic drinks on the planet. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 5/16/2011

    " Interesting concept, though the theory seemed a little thin at times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Halie | 5/8/2011

    " I loved this book. It even inspired onee of my exhibits I created during grad school. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kristi | 4/22/2011

    " A surprisingly fast read. I think having read "Guns, Germs and Steel" helped me power through it. Definitely more interesting than GGS; I found the tea and Coca-Cola chapters particularly interesting, which is a feat, since I am a coffee-and-beer kind of gal. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Doug | 4/5/2011

    " This is a very fun and unexpected read.

    It looks at how various liquids consumed by mankind shaped the course of human affairs. These are beer, wine, distilled spirits, coffee, tea and colas.

    Not to be missed for those who like a little twist to telling history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 3/23/2011

    " It may not appeal to everyone, but I love wacky Histories like this. That take something little like "choice of drink" and explain the world by it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Escapegoat | 3/10/2011

    " Ridiculously Euro centric. Fun read though. Little bit less scholarly than I might have liked, but I totally should have judged this book by its cover. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jer | 2/19/2011

    " Great read about the history of man's quest to satisfy thirst and how the drinks themselves changed history. Makes me wonder what beverage is on the horizon to make history next? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Richard | 2/18/2011

    " Interesting read about how six beverages enabled civilization and vice versa. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cherie | 2/13/2011

    " Wonderful book on how beverages shaped the history of the world! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Daniel | 1/20/2011

    " Una buena lectura histórica que hace un recorrido por la historia universal, la dinámica del hombre y de sus tragos preferidos "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 J | 1/14/2011

    " An enjoyable jaunt through history in the context of beer, wine, spirits, tea, coffee and Coca-cola. "

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About the Author
Author Tom Standage

Tom Standage is business editor at the Economist magazine and the author of A History of the World in 6 Glasses, The Turk, The Neptune File, and The Victorian Internet. He has also covered science and technology for a number of newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, and Wired. He holds a degree in engineering and computer science from Oxford University and lives in Greenwich, England, with his wife and daughter.

About the Narrator

Sean Runnette, an Earphones Award–winning narrator, has also directed and produced more than two hundred audiobooks, including several Audie Award winners. He is a member of the American Repertory Theater company and has toured the United States and internationally with ART and Mabou Mines. His television and film appearances include Two If by Sea, Cop Land, Sex and the City, Law & Order, the award-winning film Easter, and numerous commercials.