A History of the World in Six Glasses, by Tom Standage, takes a novel approach to human history. Each era, from the first settlements to our modern globalized world, is marked by the consumption of a different drink. For most of history (and, sadly, even today) drinking water has been a risky prospect, often carrying fatal diseases and causing epidemics. The solution was human-created beverages that effectively killed illness causing microbes, and tasted better to boot. The book starts around 10,000 years ago in Mesopotamia and Egypt, where the first farm-based societies were founded, allowing a before unknown abundance of food and grain, giving the opportunity to brew beer. The book then continues to the Wine vineyards of Greece and Rome, the distilled spirits that drove the Atlantic slave trade, Coffee houses of the enlightenment, how Tea created the British empire, and the spread of Coca-Cola from a small-time patent medicine, to the most widely known product in the world. Aside from just covering the history of each drink, Standage also gives the reader a fascinating portrait of what life was like during each period. A History offers something for historical buffs, who may learn something they'd never known, or to people who are just looking for a fun survey of world history. Overall it's a quick, entertaining read, and recommended to fans of non-fiction, and more casual readers alike.
Recommended by Tony Pellicone