[Book Review] I have just finished reading Tom Standage’s latest book, A History of the World in 6 Glasses. Standage likes to put historical events through a neat and interesting lense. I enjoyed his previous works including The Victorian Internet, The Turk and the wonderful, The Neptune File. 6 Glasses was a little more cute than these other works. Basically, it looked at how major forces in the world: urbanisation, empire, colonisation, globalisation and industrialisation were associated with six key classes of drink: beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and Coca-Cola. You learn about the drinks and their origins and you learn about political economy in relation to them. A good, light read. There is even a discussion of water in a final chapter but milk and juice are not mentioned. 
What struck me is that up until the last 500 years or so, the main non-water drinks were dulling rather than stimulating. Then coffee and tea came in with a good caffine base. At the same time, key developments in science and technology took place. One cannot help but wonder if the change in economic fortunes was chemical-based rather than the consequence of a more random trigger event sch as the European moves in the Americas or the discovery of mechanics. Establishing that is going to require some pretty fine drink consumption data.

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