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After three months, I finally powered through the end. The final third of the book was enjoyable; I'm just disappointed it took that far to really get interesting. Though the first portion wasn't easy to get through, Tom's insight on the future of food availability and its impact on society was interesting and on par with his conclusions in 6 Glasses.
ohheybrian | outras 42 resenhas | Dec 29, 2023 |
I've never enjoyed history. Names and dates are lost on me, and I struggle to keep everything straight when I'm reading about it. Not so with this book. Standage does a fantastic job of weaving six drinks - beer, wine, run (spirits), coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola - into the major times of human development. Sure, there is a lot of speculation, but the discussion of how each drink impacted culture and habits was enough to keep me turning the pages.
ohheybrian | outras 87 resenhas | Dec 29, 2023 |
A dry recap of well-trod food history. If you had to read one book to ingest the conventional view, this would be it; but if you're actually interested, you'd be better off reading a few books by authors who are actually *interested* in agriculture.
mmparker | outras 42 resenhas | Oct 24, 2023 |
This is an interesting history of the telegraph. Standage not only examines how it was invented and spread, but the impact it had on how people communicated, the culture of the telegraph industry, and the ways it was used and abused. Throughout, Standage draws parallels between the telegraph and the internet: both revolutionized communication, were optimistically but falsely hailed as facilitators of world peace, were used to facilitate business transactions, and were abused by scammers.

The book was originally written in the late 1990s, so it has a very rosy view of the internet and its possibilities. An afterword was added in 2007 that addressed the dotcom bust, but still paints a positive picture of the internet. It would be interesting to see another afterword now.....

All in all, this is a very interesting and readable book.
Gwendydd | outras 28 resenhas | Oct 22, 2023 |
The beginning was interesting but got rather dull towards the end. The author is a business writer for "The Economist" and boy can you tell he is! The whole later half of the book may as well have been titled, "The economics of items tangentially related to food" rather than, "An Edible history of Humanity". Other people might enjoy his perspective but I think I was looking for a book about food history and culture instead of economic theories.
Autolycus21 | outras 42 resenhas | Oct 10, 2023 |
The effect of liquor, tea and other liquids on various aspects of society over time.
mykl-s | outras 87 resenhas | Aug 11, 2023 |
Full disclosure: I skipped the chapters about spirits and tea because I had fairly recently read books that covered these topics, and I had no interest in rehashing those histories. Also, I skipped the chapter on soft drinks because I have zero interest in that type of beverage.

So I read about beer, wine, coffee, and of course the epilogue. And it was great! Every part was short and snappy, drawing clear lines between the beverages and the historical events; nothing seemed forced in from left field, and none of it was so detailed that I lost the narrative. It's the type of non-fiction book that you can read at the end of a long day and still find it relaxing. My favorite chapter was about coffee because the coffeehouses sound like a lot of fun. I'm going to try to track down "Penny Universities" to read more on these establishments, per the author's suggestion in the notes.
blueskygreentrees | outras 87 resenhas | Jul 30, 2023 |
Lots of great information on the origins of the six beverages: beer, wine, whisky, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola (with a nod to Pepsi). Modest explanations of how the beverages were distributed throughout the world. Would have enjoyed more detail, and while not offered here, could probably be found in the listed source material.
MugsyNoir | outras 87 resenhas | Jul 19, 2023 |
I mostly liked this author's "A History of the World in Six Drinks" for the small stuff. it's one thing to write about, say, Napoleon or democracy and quite another to try to figure out what eighteenth-century Frenchmen really thought about coffee. There isn't exactly a lot of that here. Standage does a very creditable job of making the case that food is a prime mover in human history and explaining how, exactly, we got to where we are, dietetically speaking. He skillfully reframes some big transitions in human history, such as the move from hunting and gathering to agriculture and from natural energy sources to industrial production. It's the sort of book everyone should read, though I rather suspect that readers who have read more deeply in history than I have will have already heard much of this from other authors. Perhaps it's the sort of history that I should have read long ago. Still, it's efficient and well composed and a good starting place for those just just starting to get their historical bearings. Fans of Yuval Harari will probably find a lot to like here. Readers looking for delectable morsels of long-buried historical knowledge may have to look elsewhere, though.
TheAmpersand | outras 42 resenhas | Jul 2, 2023 |
A short, fascinating read. It’s an intriguing framework to put the history of civilization alongside the development of humankind’s most significant drinks.
bobbybslax | outras 87 resenhas | Jun 27, 2023 |
In the book the author relates drinks to pivotal moments and periods in history: beer started civilized and non-nomadic society; wine was the drink of the intellectual, highbrow Greeks; spirits powered sailors and trade; coffee brought humanity out of its millennial long drunken slumber; tea powered every facet of a superpower—the British Empire; and Coca-Cola represents the quintessential United States and its capitalism and industrialism.½
KJC__ | outras 87 resenhas | Feb 4, 2023 |
Una historia de la humanidad «diferente» a partir de las bebidas que han marcado cada época. Un curioso libro sobre cómo la cerveza, el vino, los licores, el café, el té, la Coca-Cola y el agua embotellada han cambiado la vida del género humano
Natt90 | outras 87 resenhas | Jan 31, 2023 |
I've certainly read worse books. This provides a nice, general, history of the telegraph. Standage does a fine job of providing a brief context but the real strength is looking at the boarder impact of the technology (and the offshoots from those early successes). This book successeds in conveying the idea of invention as a team or compounding practice, and Standage provides those steps along the way. It would, however, have been nice to see a more clear context and credit provided for the development of the telegraph - Alfred Vail's contributions were glossed over, in turn presenting him as simply an assistant or part-time helper. Further context would always have been welcomed, but given the scope and audience of the book the lack thereof is acceptable.
Overall, a fine and easy read to provide a refresher on the topic.
E_Morgan_Huhn | outras 28 resenhas | Oct 26, 2022 |
Very enlightening! It’s amazing the parallels that exist between the early days of telegraphy and our own internet and cell phones. This very readable book takes you through the early development of the idea of telegraphy. It was a radical in it’s time. In fact I suspect even more radical then our own cell phones of today. I would loved to have seen some discussion or wireless telegraphy being my only suggestion. Recommended!!
stevetempo | outras 28 resenhas | Sep 26, 2022 |
And interesting primer on the history of the world through popular drinks. A fast read that really makes you think about your favorite drinks in a new way.
Carmentalie | outras 87 resenhas | Jun 4, 2022 |
A highly readable and accessible history of the rise, and possible demise, of the car as our dominant form of transport.

But this isn’t a chronology of the motor industry, more of a social history that highlights the unforeseen and unintended consequences of the switch from horses to horseless carriages; that examines several interesting what-if scenarios along the way. I found it packed full of “I didn’t know that” moments.

The book concludes with an interesting and cautionary look at what may come next in a connected data driven world where we may move from individual ownership to connected transport infrastructures and ‘Mobility as a Service’ models.
gothamajp | outras 4 resenhas | Apr 27, 2022 |
While not the most engaging of history books, this is generally well written, and some sections do stand out, such as the real story of the birth of Coca Cola and, much more importantly, the shameful (mostly for the British) links between tea and opium and between rum and slavery. Listening will make you thirsty for something, no doubt.½
datrappert | outras 87 resenhas | Mar 12, 2022 |
"When you next raise some beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, or Coca Cola to your lips, think about how it reached you -- across space and time. And remember that it contains more than mere alcohol or caffeine; there is history, too, amid its swirling depths." Coffee is for geniuses, tea will cure every possible ill (but wreak havoc on international relations), and Coke is simulacra. This book's fascinating and fun (and not as cheesy as its conclusion; but mmmm, cheese). It's intriguing to consider politics, economics, technology, and social development through focus on a single (category of) artifact. I enjoyed the audio version.
rinila | outras 87 resenhas | Feb 25, 2022 |
يقدم الكتاب نظرة على تاريخ البشرية من خلال عدسة غير عادية: المشروبات المفضلة. حيث يوجز الأدوار التي لعبتها كل من البيرة والنبيذ والمشروبات الروحية والشاي والقهوة والمشروبات الغازية في التطورات التاريخية الكبرى عندما أخذت بالانتشار في جميع أنحاء العالم.
TonyDib | outras 87 resenhas | Jan 28, 2022 |
I don't think I learnt much about the world's history, but it was very interesting to learn about the history of these drinks.
Nannus | outras 87 resenhas | Jan 17, 2022 |
Wow, what a fascinating book! Brilliantly researched and expertly narrated. I learnt so many fascinating things. I recommend this to everybody who is even just remotely interested in the history of their favourite beverages, and it is a must read for everybody who is interested in history! I'm so glad I picked this up when I did, even though I took my time listening to it.
Belana | outras 87 resenhas | Dec 15, 2021 |
I expected the title to be hype but was pleasantly surprised by this book. The first online dating, marriage all took place over the telegraph. First online crime took place over the telegraph. When it was first built it was expected to usher in a lasting world peace as governments could instantly communicate with each other. This book is well worth the time to read.
kevn57 | outras 28 resenhas | Dec 8, 2021 |
Some bits were more interesting than others, of course, but there's a lot of neat information and this was a fun lens to examine history through.
JorgeousJotts | outras 87 resenhas | Dec 3, 2021 |
The car is considered an improvement over horses. Horses required food and stables; and produced tons of manure which needed to be cleaned from city streets. But cars created a dependency on oil and gas, produced unhealthy chemical emissions, killed thousands of people each year, take up huge amounts of space, and hugely altered city neighborhoods and country terrain.

Cars were game changers, and as such, much of the world’s urban planning, and suburban residential shopping and recreational developments, focused almost exclusively on travel by car. The result is that millions of people were compelled to adapt their lives, not just how to travel but where to live, work, and shop, around this costly modern-day miracle.

Robert Moses was an ambitious, over-reaching politician when it came to urban planning centered on vehicles. Like the world’s very first drivers, mostly very wealthy men, sped unconcerned about those they hurt or killed, Moses narrow-mindedly and insensitively, implemented construction of roads and highways by plowing through and tearing apart poor Black and Latino neighborhoods. Working under Governor Al Smith, Moses held over 12 official titles, with access to a large budget, and free rein to build parks and beaches for upper class whites, deliberately designing bridges connecting New York City to be too low for buses from inner city neighborhoods thus keeping out middle- and lower-class citizens. Yes, Americans can travel the country through our interstate highway system due to Moses’ forceful and aggressive ‘get-it-done’ dynamism. But at what cost?

To slow climate change, gain more critically needed green space, produce less emissions, reduce car accidents and deaths, people have been considering and talking about travel alternatives for years. Options include electric vehicles and automatic vehicles (AV’s) or self-driving cars. AV’s have been tested but because city roads and highways, their signage, traffic controls are complex, AV’s have been determined to have become 90% safe. Until the remaining 10% is achieved they cannot be used in large-scale settings.

While trains, buses and cars may be the best choice for long trips, travel for families and groups, and for transporting large or heavy items, there are many options better suited for local travel. Ride-sharing, biking, and scooters are examples. Logistically, travel in the future needs to be flexible. As we know, utilizing horses and cars had both good and bad consequences. With any new invention and innovation, despite testing, scrutiny and deliberation, it can be challenging to think of everything that could happen down the road and go wrong. That is why using a variety of travel options provides the versatility and adjustability to avoid getting trapped in a travel monoculture.

The smart phone, an innovation like the automobile is key to coordinating, ordering and paying for long and short trips, or a combination of both.

I learned a lot from Standage’s A Brief History of Motion…, and enjoyed reading it. But the word ‘Brief’ is inaccurate. At this point in my life, I appreciate reading more condensed and less comprehensive non-fiction books.
Bookish59 | outras 4 resenhas | Nov 14, 2021 |
Tom Standage is back with another concise, fun history book. This time we delve into the history of wheeled transport, with the heart of the book discussing the evolution of the modern automobile, what it has meant for societies around the world, and what may come after it.

The first part of the book gives us an overview of what came before the modern car - highlighting wheels themselves (not considered exceptionally useful for a long, long time), then chariots, carts and coaches. This is followed by several interesting stories of early rail innovations.

After that we jump into the story of the rise of the automobile, and so we spend the rest of the book from the 1880s until today. Did you know that the first person to drive an automobile over a long distance, proving that cars could be put to practical use, was a woman? Did you know that the Model T, the most popular car of it's day, was not only the car that made the Ford Motor Company, but also, because of Henry Ford's stubborn reluctance to make major changes to his lineup of offerings, led to the company's declining fortunes in the face of upstart rival General Motors? Those are just a few of the stories Standage covers in this part of the book.

Finally, the book finishes off with a discussion of how the automobile is currently transforming, including discussion of electric vehicles, self driving cars and alternate forms of ownership and ways of consuming "rides", whether on four wheels or two.

As a child of the US heartland - Michigan in particular - cars, car manufacturing, and car culture are something I grew up surrounded with. So for me this book was an enjoyable journey through many stories and tidbits I was already mostly familiar with. I think that others not so familiar would still find this book of interest.

I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who may be interested in quick history of the automobile. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Liam Gerrard, who did an exceptional job. I rate Tom Standage's A Brief History of Motion Three Stars ⭐⭐⭐.

NOTE: My Advanced Reviewer's Copy of the audiobook version of A Brief History of Motion was provided at no cost through Netgalley and Tantor Media in exchange for a fair and unbiased review. The book, ebook (by Bloomsbury) and audiobook (by Tantor Media) versions have all just been published.
stevesbookstuff | outras 4 resenhas | Sep 23, 2021 |