Why Did Tom Standage Write a History of the World in 6 Glasses?

Tom Standage, a British journalist and author, wrote a book titled “A History of the World in 6 Glasses”. The book is an interesting take on world history, exploring how six different beverages have played a significant role in shaping human history.

But why did Tom Standage choose to write this book? In this article, we will dive into the reasons behind his motivation.

Curiosity and Passion for History

Tom Standage’s love for history started at a young age. He was fascinated by how past events shaped the world we live in today.

As he grew older, he became increasingly interested in the social and cultural aspects of history. He wanted to understand how people lived their daily lives, what they ate and drank, and what they did for fun.

This curiosity led him to research extensively about beverages throughout history. He delved deep into the origins of beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola. He analyzed their impact on society and how they affected politics, economics, and even religion.

The Idea Behind the Book

As he researched more about these beverages’ impact on society throughout history, Standage had an idea to write a book that would explore this topic further. He wanted to share his knowledge with others who might be interested in history but might not have found it accessible or engaging.

He realized that writing a book about six different beverages would be an excellent way to do this. The book would be accessible to anyone interested in learning more about world history but also be engaging enough for those who may not usually read historical texts.

The Themes Explored in the Book

“A History of the World in 6 Glasses” explores several themes that run throughout human history: social class, trade networks, imperialism, colonization, cultural exchange, globalization, innovation and ingenuity.

Standage argues that every beverage has a story to tell about the culture and society that created it. He explores how beer influenced the development of agriculture, how wine was a symbol of social status in ancient Greece and Rome, how spirits played a role in the slave trade, how coffeehouses became hubs of political discourse during the Age of Enlightenment, how tea became a symbol of British imperialism in China, and how Coca-Cola represents American cultural dominance.

The Book’s Impact

“A History of the World in 6 Glasses” has been well-received by both critics and readers. It has been translated into several languages and has won numerous awards. The book has also become a popular text in college history courses.

The book’s impact goes beyond just being an entertaining read or a useful teaching tool. It has sparked conversations about the role of beverages in shaping human history. It has also inspired readers to learn more about history and to view it from different perspectives.


In conclusion, Tom Standage wrote “A History of the World in 6 Glasses” out of his curiosity and passion for history. He wanted to make history accessible and engaging for everyone by exploring six different beverages’ impact on society throughout world history. The book’s themes have sparked conversations and inspired readers to view history from new perspectives.