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A History Of The World In Six Glasses By Tom Standage analysis

There have been countless books written over the ages in various genres, including drama, thriller, action, fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, history, etc. The book that I am going to review about is a very interesting historical, non-fiction book. Tom Standage wrote “A History of the World in Six Glasses” about different drinks that have been consumed over the years by different civilizations (Standage, 2006). It describes the relationship of civilizations with the drinks. Every civilization had a drink that defined their work and lifestyle. Tom Standage described the history of the world by mentioning beer, wine, coffee, tea, rum, spirits, and Coca-Cola. Each of these drinks has an origin and a relationship with a particular civilization.

Tom Standage employed these six drinks to make a correlation with an important event or an era in history. He started off his book by describing the origin of beer and how it was made and used by the earliest civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia. This civilization is one of the most ancient in the known history (Harari & Perkins, 2017). The Agricultural Revolution was one of the first revolutions known to man, and it was the revolution that was associated with the making of beer. The people began to learn how to make beer, and it was the same process that we now use, which is called fermentation (Duang, Ruan, Shetty, & Xu, 2015). Beer was not intentionally pursued or invented by anyone; rather, it was one of the byproducts, and since then, it has become popular and is the only drink people have enjoyed drinking. The beer in and of itself became the emblem of civilizations, particularly in Mesopotamia. The beer was associated with joy and health by the Egyptians and the people of Mesopotamia. Beer was considered a drink of the riches, but when Sumerians came along, it was shared amongst the poor as well and the drink of all people.

The next drink was wine. Greeks were the very first civilization that enthusiastically accepted wine and made it part of their culture. Before the Greeks, wine was still in use, but it was only served at extravagant parties. It has been said that the Ancient Greeks understood the meaning of life and humanity when they discovered the method of making wine. Wine became a part of their culture, and the people of Greece thought drinking wine was a test of their resilience and intellect. After the Greek civilization, the Romans had the authority and control over those areas once occupied by the Greeks, and wine drinking continued in the Roman civilization as well (Freeman, 2014).

Rum was the next drink in line and become popular. Rum became particularly popular in Europe after Europeans (Portuguese, Spanish, French, and British) started traveling discovering the American world. They had gained access to sugarcane and from that, rum came into being. It was popular in the Northern parts of America where British settlers were occupying the land.

Coffee marked the era of Enlightenment. It was used in the Muslim world since Muslims were not allowed to drink alcohol, coffee becomes popular amongst the scholars and philosophers. Coffee gave them the energy that was required to read and analyze the classical textbooks. From the Muslim world, it arrived in Europe and it was a very common drink amongst the European philosophers and scholars.

Just as coffee, tea was also not very popular in Europe and it was introduced by the Chinese. And from China tea became popular in Britain and now all parts which were colonized the British for example, Subcontinent, New Zealand etc. tea is very common. Coca-Cola marked the age of cold war. Coca-cola became very popular in the era of cold war and after the disintegration of Soviet Union, Coca-cola had no competition in the world.

Tom Standage was trying to give a historical view through the lens of these drinks, and all these drinks defined a certain age and civilization. In the end, he says in his book that the next era has arrived, and the drink of the future is water. People would start wars against each other because of water. Water would define a new era just as the other six drinks had defined their period of time in history.


Duang, G., Ruan, Z., Shetty, J. K., & Xu, H. (2015). Enhanced fermentation process using molasses. Google Patents.

Freeman, C. (2014). Egypt, Greece, and Rome: Civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean. Oxford University Press.

Harari, Y. N., & Perkins, D. (2017). Sapiens: A brief history of humankind. HarperCollins.

Standage, T. (2006). A History of the World in 6 Glasses. Bloomsbury Publishing USA.



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