REVIEW: An Edible History of Humanity

I like history. I like food.

It would seem that Tom Standage’s volume An Edible History of Humanity would be the kind of book I would enjoy.

You would be correct.

It is not that the book contained any groundbreaking research or insight. It was a relatively light read, although not of the caliber of Bill Bryson’s humorous tomes like At Home or A Short History of Nearly Everything. It was full of snippets from world history, told from the perspective of food.

Standage’s meanders in and out of world history, discussing the role of spices and cereals, agricultural technology and political upheavals. Whether it is the Neolithic revolution or the French Revolution, food and it’s availability played a part; and Standage’s highlights that particular perspective.

I wouldn’t really call this a world history. It is more a collection of anecdotal historical and technological facts. It would have probably profited from an approach that took a little more of medieval history into consideration, and it seemed uneven at times; but that is perhaps more of a personal preference.

In small bits, it was informative and gave you something to think about. I listened to it on and off over the course of a couple of weeks, and it kept me thinking, even if sometimes I just let the narrator ramble. (He sounded a bit like someone doing a Bill Shatner impression.)

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