Book Report: A History of the World in Six Glasses

Topics: Coffee, Alcoholic beverage, World War II Pages: 6 (1840 words) Published: March 14, 2016
Kyle Chiu
A History of the World in 6 Glasses
AP World History – Due: August 25, 2015
A History of the World in 6 Glasses
Have you ever questioned that the history of the world could be connected and intertwined in one aspect of life? The book, A History of the World in 6 Glasses, takes that question and answers it with one word: water. Since the first human walked the Earth, to the billions of people on the planet today, humans have needed food and most importantly water to survive. From the first civilization back in 10,000 B.C.E. to modern day society, author, Tom Standage proves that water has evolved into a variety of different drinks that have shaped and changed human history.

The first glass was created through day-old gruel combined with cereal grains. It created an unknown fuzzy substance that eventually transformed into alcohol, or as we know it today as beer. Beer was discovered in 10,000 B.C.E. in Mesopotamia in the Fertile Crescent. It caused a chain reaction that led to the domestication of crops and beginning of agriculture. Crops such as cereal grain compelled many nomadic tribes to reside near rivers, and other waterways that formed the first civilizations like Mesopotamia. Beer was an essential part of their life, and culture, and it led to many advancements in human society. This drink became what “distinguished them from savages and made them fully human” (Standage, 27), so by drinking beer and eating bread, people are accepted into society as “real” civilized people. What seems to be an intoxicating and alcoholic drink also caused the creation of writing and currency in their society. Sumerians wrote on clay to keep track of their stock of bread and beer and the distribution of bread, beer, grain, and other goods. Beer, along with bread, was distributed to the community, and it was used as currency to pay wages for labor and other services. The city-states consumed such an abundant amount of beer and bread, due to the theory it was a necessity of life and brought prosperity and well-being. Beer shaped the Fertile Crescent by creating the first civilizations and formed sedimentary life along with cultural aspects such as writing, currency, and government.

The second glass was created very similar to the first, but with the juices of fermented grapes, those juices created wine. When wine was first discovered, it was used as a sign of wealth since it was a luxury because it required transportation for wine to reach Rome and Greece. Wine revealed one’s culture since peoples’ manners were critically judged by the type they drank and the way they drank. While manners were important, the Greek were often noted for the water that was added in wine before consuming it. Water lowered the alcohol content in the drink, and only “Gods” were known to drink wine without water. Wine was a noteworthy feature in their culture that it became widely popular. The society created a drinking game called Kottabos, and men wanted to be champions at the game. “Some enthusiasts even built special circular rooms in which to play it” (Standage, 61). People took this game as a serious idea and participated in it more than sports. This drink was a cultural phenomenon that laws were passed to try and limit the amount of wine people could buy. For the most part, wine was all over Greece and Rome and everyone drank it. However, it was also used for useful tasks such as medicine; doctors used this liquid to cleanse open wounds and disinfect them. From the beginning of wine’s history, it has surpassed time and even survived the dark ages, since Catholics used wine in communion, and Muslims tried to outlaw the drink but it failed. This drink was everywhere from political gatherings to religious ceremonies and even sat in doctors’ offices. Wine was a very social drink that was fashionable by all Greeks and Romans and was drunk at numerous celebrations by the wealthy and poor and has passed the test of time.

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