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A History of the World in Six Glasses

Monday, September 21st, 2009

A History of the  World in Six Glasses

I finished reading A History of the World in Six Glasses few days ago. Its a little tour through history looking at the impact of six (well seven if you include water) styles of drink and their history. It starts (briefly) with water then moves quickly on to beer then on through wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola before finally coming back to water at the end. Its finished off with a short selection of recipes for everything from Egyptian beer to ninteenth century cola for anyone who wants to try an authentic tipple from an earlier age.

It’s a clearly written book with a good selection of anecdotes and asides to entertain along the way. I was tickled by the development of pictogram writing as a way of replacing an earlier method of recording accounts by placing tokens in clay envelopes. Theres is just something inherently right about beer tokens literally existing in Mesopotamia and writing emerging to replace them.

A History of the World in Six Glasses may not appeal to everyone. By setting out its approach up front in the title its doesn’t deviate into the impact of other drinks. Gin and a variety of soft drinks that have been around for over a hundred years are nowhere to be found in the index. However while this may not be to everyones taste I think the omission strengthens the book by avoiding the danger of becoming sidetracked into too many historical byways as each additional drink would need its own history and a demonstration of its impact to explain its inclusion. It could easily have become A History of the World in a Binge Drinking Session followed by a Selection of Pick Me Ups.

I highly recomend A History of the World in Six Glasses as an enjoyable, light, slightly frothy history.

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