New York Times Bestseller
From beer to Coca-Cola, the six drinks that have helped shape human history.
Written with authority and charm by journalist Tom Standage, 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 six beverages that have had a surprisingly pervasive influence on the course of human events: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola.
First made in the Fertile Crescent, beer became so important to Mesopotamia and Egypt that by 3000 B.C.E. it was being used as currency. The main export of Ancient Greece's vast seaborne trade, wine helped spread its culture abroad. Spirits such as brandy and rum fueled the Age of Exploration, fortifying men on long voyages and oiling the pernicious slave trade. Originating in the Arab world, coffee stoked revolutionary thought in Europe during the Age of Reason, when coffeehouses became centers of intellectual exchange. Hundreds of years after the Chinese began drinking tea, it had far-reaching effects on British foreign policy. Carbonated drinks, invented in 18th-century Europe and popularized in the 20th-century, are now a leading symbol of globalization, particularly Coca-Cola.
"Incisive, illuminating, and swift," (New York Times), A History of the World in 6 Glasses shows the intricate interplay of different civilizations in a fascinating new light. For Standage, each drink is a kind of technology, a catalyst for advancing culture. You may never look at your favorite drink the same way again.