Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Book Review: A History of the World in 6 Glasses

Imagine going through Spaceship Earth at Epcot Center (this is easy for me because I just returned from there) and "going back in time" to observe, not cavemen painting on walls, but Mesopotamians drinking beer through straws out of a communal cup. If that sounds interesting to you, and it does to me, then this book is for you.

Covering, in order, beer, wine, distilled spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola, this book steps through world history, explains the chemistry of how the drinks are made, and details their impact on world economies and advancements. I liked it, though it necessarily hews a bit close to the theory that technology drives culture, that the invention of these drinks caused rather than was driven by world events. But that's a conceit I'm willing to put up with in a fast-paced, wide-ranging book like this.

I think this might make for a good chemistry course sometime ...

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