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An Edible History of Humanity
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About the Author

Tom Standage is business editor at The Economist magazine and the author of four works of history, including A History of the World in 6 Glasses and The Victorian Internet. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, Wired, and other publications. He is married and has two children.

Reviews

Standage provides an intriguing history of how hunger has shaped civilizations and prompted technological advancements. Starting with hunter-gatherer societies, Standage traces the evolution of cuisines and addition of new ingredients to the current debates over organic and industrialized food systems. With a gentle and deep voice, George K. Wilson guides listeners through the thought-provoking theses with the tone of a knowledgeable and sincere tour guide. His emphasis and deliberate delivery help keep the prose engaging while giving sufficient aural direction for listeners to understand the relevance of a particular sentence or paragraph. A Walker hardcover. (July) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Standage's previous book, A History of the World in 6 Glasses, theorized that the titular six drinks were reflections of the eras in which they were created. In this new work, he instead shows how one of humanity's most vital needs (hunger) didn't simply reflect but served as the driving force behind transformative and key events in history. Dividing the vast subject into six general sections (such as food's role in the development of societies and social hierarchies, its impact on population and industrialization, and its uses as a weapon both on the battlefield and off), Standage illustrates each section with historical examples and observations. Some topics, like the spice trade's encouragement of exploration, are fairly obvious choices, but the concise style and inclusion of little-known details keep the material both entertaining and enlightening. Perhaps the most interesting section is the final one, which looks at the ways in which modern agricultural needs have acted as a spur for technological advancement, with Standage providing a summary of the challenges still faced by the green revolution. Recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Kathleen McCallister, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Standage succeeds in underscoring the crucial role that food continues to play in our lives. - Washington Post The emphasis on food as a cultural catalyst differentiates Standage from Michael Pollan. With Standage...it's not just one food lifting and guiding history, but what Adam Smith might have called the invisible fork of food economics. - New Scientist Standage's examples are pretty powerful: In his view of the world, the British lost the Revolutionary War in large part because they failed to provide adequate food for their troops; the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 because the regime could not feed its people; and the reason we say someone is a family's breadwinner is because of food's practically ancient association with wealth. - Gourmet An extraordinary and well-told story, a much neglected dimension of history. - Financial Times Cogent, informative and insightful. An intense briefing on the making of our world from the vantage point of food history. - Kirkus

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