By Rod Phillips
Even if as wine, beer, or spirits, alcohol has had a relentless and infrequently arguable position in social existence. In his cutting edge e-book at the attitudes towards and intake of alcohol, Rod Phillips surveys a 9,000-year cultural and monetary historical past, uncovering the tensions among alcoholic beverages as fit staples of day-by-day diets and as items of social, political, and non secular nervousness. within the city facilities of Europe and the United States, the place it used to be noticeable as more healthy than untreated water, alcohol received a foothold because the drink of selection, however it has been extra regulated through governmental and spiritual experts greater than the other commodity. As a possible resource of social disruption, alcohol created risky obstacles of appropriate and unacceptable intake and broke via limitations of sophistication, race, and gender.
Phillips follows the ever-changing cultural meanings of those effective potables and makes the remarkable argument that a few societies have entered "post-alcohol" levels. His is the 1st ebook to check and clarify the meanings and results of alcohol in such intensity, from international and long term perspectives.
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Extra info for Alcohol: A History
One reason why wine was monopolized by the wealthy and powerful in ancient societies was simple cost. It cost more to produce, and its relative scarcity raised the price further. In Mesopotamia the price of wine was inflated by the need to ship it to the towns where the elites were concentrated. Although beer was readily produced from barley grown on the plains near southern cities such as Babylon, Ur, and Lagash, wine was produced in the mountains to the northeast and then shipped downstream along the Tigris and Euphrates.
If alcoholic beverages became part of the prehistoric diet, they must have made a negligible contribution to rehydration at first (and for tens of thousands of years), because nomadic populations would not have been able to produce significant volumes of alcohol while constantly on the move. Everything changed in the Neolithic period (about 10,000 to 4000 BC), when humans began to build permanent settlements, cultivate cereals and other crops, and keep livestock. Domesticated varieties of many kinds of crops began to appear, including cereals that were suitable for making beer and grape varieties that were selected for wine production because they were easier to propagate and had a higher ratio of flesh to seeds than many wild grapes.
At the material level, until the nineteenth century, alcohol (mainly beer and wine) was widely consumed by Europeans and North Americans for hydration because so many sources of water were unsafe to drink. Within centuries of being founded, Rome had to be supplied with potable water from aqueducts because the River Tiber was polluted. Major waterways and wells in urban centers in Europe (from the Middle Ages) and the Americas (from the eighteenth century) were too contaminated to be sources of safe drinking water.
Alcohol: A History by Rod Phillips