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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
The title perfectly explains its content, if you want to discover the history of humanity under a pervespective rarely told, this is the book for you. Tom Standage also wrote "A History of the World in Six Glasses", worth reading too.
Published 16 months ago by revelli giovanni piero

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A second rate Standage
An Edible History of Humanity is a jog through the ways in which the technologies of food production have influenced history. Examples from many periods are covered: the move from hunting and gathering to agriculture; the spice trade; the influence of food on military history (from Napoleon to the Cold War); the green revolution of the sixties and seventies; the great...
Published on 26 Aug 2011 by Metropolitan Critic


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A second rate Standage, 26 Aug 2011
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An Edible History of Humanity is a jog through the ways in which the technologies of food production have influenced history. Examples from many periods are covered: the move from hunting and gathering to agriculture; the spice trade; the influence of food on military history (from Napoleon to the Cold War); the green revolution of the sixties and seventies; the great famines of Stalin and Mao.

It was something of a disappointment after Standage's outstanding earlier books The Neptune File (on planetary discovery) and The Victorian Internet (the history of the telegraph). Part of the problem is that, unlike these earlier works, there is no real narrative - just a sequence of examples. So the book lacks a sense of overall organisation or structure.

Also the material just seems on average duller than the earlier books. There are some interesting details (for example the discovery of synthetic nitrogen by Haber) but also a good deal of fairly pedestrian stuff about the various episodes in the spice trade.

There is a tendency towards the statement of the obvious. As the Times review pointed out, the book's conclusion that "food is certain to be a vital ingredient of humanity's future" is banal. Also, when Standage points out that tin cans are "still in use today" I wondered to whom exactly this might come as news.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!, 7 Mar 2013
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The title perfectly explains its content, if you want to discover the history of humanity under a pervespective rarely told, this is the book for you. Tom Standage also wrote "A History of the World in Six Glasses", worth reading too.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars food, glorious food, 13 July 2010
Fantastically interesting story of how food has evolved and the politics and superstition behind our staple diet. Fascinating to read, well-written and not too complicated. Would recommend it to anyone interested in food, politics, history or just a well-told story. Who would have thought that the common potato had such folklore behind it?
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A digestible history of foodstuffs, 7 Feb 2013
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2 factoids per para, one fact. Just like the Economist magazine. I love factoids. This book has a lot of them, some of them new to me but all about what we eat, not about how we eat.

Standage, a distinguished journalist for the Economist magazine (which even has an "Intelligence" Unit), describes a history of food from a global perspective. He covers the main themes, agriculture, the Columbian exchange, miracle rice and GM crops. He ignores cooking.

Cookery may not be be an invention of man. Cookery may have made man. Cooked food delivers up to 50 times the the useful calories of raw food, and our preference for wasp waists may be a consequence of this.

The author spends some pages on spices, agreed to be nutritionally trivial but historically important, since we went to war over them. He does not mention our preference for rot, such as gamey meat, fish sauces etc which may be an even more ancient preference than cookery.

About technology he has surprisingly little to say. The refrigerator made Argentina rich, the grain elevator made the Mid West viable. About the environment he is conventional but says nothing about the microwave oven which is allegedly destroying family life(but uses little energy), about the practice of cooking food for the husband's midday meal which causes huge traffic jams in India or the deforestation of some poor countries that simply need the means to cook.

This book isn't bad, exactly. It just reads as if it was written by an intern. There are better ones about, some of which I've bothered to review.
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An Edible History of Humanity
An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage (MP3 CD - 26 Jun 2009)
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