A History of World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage: An Analysis In his book, Standage presents the readers not just an evolution of time and unraveling of history but also the embodiment of people and their culture in the image portrayed by the six types of drink. In this paper, we shall deal with the ramification a certain drink can contribute to the evolution of society. In particular, we shall discuss the role played by these drinks in the economic, political and social aspects of human life.
Tom Standage reveals how the six drinks have played certain roles in history. First, he mentions beer as the drink that symbolizes the dawn of civilization. According to him, the farmers in the ancient times planted barley and made beer out of it. Also, “the guys who built the pyramids were paid in beer and bread. It was the defining drink of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Everybody drank it. Today it’s the drink of the working man, and it was then as well.
” This denotes that from the beginning, beer had been part of history and commerce as people used it everyday in their meals, and to celebrate occasions. From this, we can also infer that people used the drink to establish connections or build good relationships. The concept of beer being used as a medium for celebration is similar to the way other prodigious drinks are being served today including the wine. “Wines may be as old as beer or even older” (Standage 2003).
Unlike beer, though, wines are more difficult to produce and preserve. The earlier people used it on special occasions such as weddings and other religious rites. In the Bible, we see different kinds of wine befitting occasions or the people who drank them . Wines also served seemingly as the demarcation line between the rich and the poor, with the first able to afford the more precious and older wines. The history of wine suggests its value in commerce as it was used to trade with other countries for metals, leather and even slaves.
Today, wine still marks its place in the important events in society from the simplest family gatherings to grand celebrations of the most important people in the society. Spirits such as brandy and rum were mentioned as drinks associated mostly with sailors and pirates. Although they were consumed limitedly due to their effect, these drinks have also evolved with time as they marked history during the 17th Century in the Caribbean islands with sailors tasked to protect planters from pirates and European enemies.
Rum was given as a reward to sailors for the sacrifice they endured aboard, but essentially these drinks helped the crew shake off their hardships and nostalgia, and continue with days ahead. To this day, spirits are still very popular among younger generations as they are mixed with juice and other flavors. Another famous drink that originated centuries ago was coffee. From the Arab Peninsula where it first originated, the aroma and taste of brewed beans have traveled across the world, in every house or establishment that appreciates the warmth coffee can bring.
Its popularity can be attributed to the concept of alcohol-free drinks during the Age of Reason in the 18th Century. Today, coffee is loved and enjoyed by billions of people not only for its taste and aroma but also for its anti-oxidant effects. Its caffeine content is said to increase the speed of rapid information processing by ten percent, and a cup of regular (caffeine-containing) coffee after lunch helps to counteract the normal ‘post-lunch dip’ inability to sustain concentration, aiding alertness.
Tea, a drink widely associated with China dates back to as early as the third century A. D. According to Standage, it played a leading role in the expansion of imperial and industrial power of Great Britain for many centuries later. Similar to coffee, it helps workers and those who need to stay alert with its caffeine content, which is why tea or coffee breaks have been part of every business establishment. Remarkable of the 19th Century, the Coca-Cola began was introduced to the market by its inventor, the pharmacist John Stith Pemberton.
It has become a symbol of the United States due to its unprecedented sales all over the world among popular drinks today. Notes in history ascertain “East Germans quickly reaching for Cokes when the Berlin Wall fell, while Thai Muslims poured it out into the streets to show disdain for the U. S. in the days leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq” (Standage 2003). The popularity of Coca-Cola also represents the rise of consumer capitalism and instigates the emergence of America as a superpower. Overall, Standage believes that it is “globalization in a bottle.
” Seeing the history of the world in these six types of drink, Standage is able to show us the role that each drink played in economy and society in general. It impresses upon us how each stage in history can be changed or affected by what people drink and how each drink reflects the market it represents. In particular, market technologists and economists can make a good sense out of the pattern rooted out by Standage for every drink. They can take note of the marketability of their product based on the points offered inductively by Standage.
As established, these drinks have helped change the economic situations of the countries of their origin. In particular, we see these drinks being used for trade as export products and as factors or images responsible for commercialism and achieving niche in the economic scene. We also see how these drinks have become part of the political systems of the world in the form of symbols of unity or disparity among nations. Furthermore, the six drinks have served as images to represent social status, conventions, and individuality of the people who drink them.
While it is commendable of Standage to use these drinks as portals to what developed in history, it may also be wise to look at other drinks that similarly mirror our evolution. In this regard, we may suggest the inclusion of other drinks such as juice, chocolate drinks, and other liquids sold today which are very popular among the youth in the present generation, and which do not necessarily explain political or economic status but simply elucidate on the options people take in response to stimuli in their environment.
To give an account of these drinks would complete the details of history of his book, not just centering on the antiquities but also explicating on the modern times.
Ancient Greece. All About Greek Wine. 2003. 24 November 2007. . Coffee and Your Health. Heine Brothers’ Coffee. 24 November 2007. . Handwerk, Brian. “The World in a Glass: Six Drinks That Changed History”. National Geographic News. 3 October 2003. 24 November 2007. . Jesus Changes Water to Wine. Biblegateway. com. 1995. 26 November 2007. . Standage, Tom. A History of World in Six Glasses. Canada: Doubleday Canada, 2005. The Tradition of Rum and the Sea. The Ministry of Rum. 2003. 25 November 2007. .