A History of the World in Six Glasses


Thomas Standage

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A History of the World in Six Glasses Symbols


Beer, the first major “symbol” in the book, has meant many things to many different civilizations (at one point, it was considered a gateway to the realm of the gods). Nevertheless, for more than…

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From nearly the beginning of its existence, wine has been the drink of power and sophistication. Arguably more than any of the other symbol-drinks in Standage’s book, then, wine’s symbolic significance is plain, and has…

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Spirits have symbolized multiple, contradictory things to different peoples over time. For the Muslims, who refused to drink alcohol, spirits (even more than other alcoholic beverages) symbolized sin and depravity—the violation of Islamic law. Yet…

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As Standage argues, coffee has long symbolized intellect, creativity, and “just a streak of revolution.” During the Enlightenment, coffee—and the coffeehouses where it was served—represented a form of free, open discourse in which new ideas…

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As with coffee, tea began to take on symbolic meaning in the instant that it became a European beverage (it was symbolic long before that in Eastern cultures, but Standage touches on this very little)…

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Get the entire Six Glasses LitChart as a printable PDF.
A History of the World in Six Glasses PDF


For Standage, Coca-Cola’s status as the beverage that symbolizes America in all its glory and weakness began during the Great Depression, when the company ran a brilliant series of ads that depicted Coke as…

read analysis of Coca-Cola