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Champagne: How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times Paperback – Bargain Price, November 28, 2006

25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Compelling… a lovingly written ode to this incomparable, festive wine.” (New York Newsday on Champagne )

About the Author

Don and Petie Kladstrup are former journalists who have written extensively about wine and France for numerous publications. Don, a winner of three Emmys and numerous other awards, was a foreign correspondent for ABC and CBS television news. Petie, an Overseas Press Club winner, was a newspaper journalist and more recently protocol officer for the U.S. ambassador to UNESCO. The Kladstrups divide their time between Paris and Normandy.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (November 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006073793X
  • ASIN: B001O9CEC8
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,819,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By R. S. Vavasour on February 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
I found this book--which I finally threw down unfinished in irritation after the umpteenth faux "fact" was presented--trite beyond belief. I presume that a history is factual. This was not. The authors presented so much factually wrong, unsupported information and claims that I finally decided I could not justify spending more time reading it. For instance, they claim that both Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette drank champagne with a last meal before their executions. Well, Louis did enjoy a fairly good meal--without champagne--before his execution. Marie Antoinette, however, was so brutally treated and degraded by her captors as the Widow Capet before hers that there most assuredly was no "last meal" for her, much less a champagne chaser. Her maid recounted the details of her prevailing upon her to eat a few mouthfuls of some vermicelli which she warmed up on her stove in her cell. If she drank anything it was water--likely from the nearby and very polluted Seine. Anyone offering her champagne would have most certainly ended up being arrested for royalist sympathies. With all the many fine sources out there on both of these executionsw, how can the Kladstrups get away with printing such trite, factually wrong drivel merely to add some silly patina of faux glamour to their thesis? Then they go on to describe the aristocrats being guillotined, describing how the victims were forced to kneel and put their heads on the block. Have the Kladstrups even the remotest familiarity with how a guillotine works?? There is no block. There is no kneeling. There is no cooperation by the victim whatsoever. Read any source on the topic. Yet again, the Kladstrups trot out rubbish which is not even factually close to correct.Read more ›
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on January 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Don and Petie Kladstrup's new book, "Champagne", is a serious but lively romp through the history of champagne...champagne, the drink and Champagne, the region. It is also a revealing look at the French and how they defended what became their national symbol through war and (literally) pestilence. Defend it they did, to their credit and our good fortune.

Written as a timeline, "Champagne" begins in the Middle Ages with an almost startling revelation....the bubbles in the wine, so essential to its success and taste in later years, were considered to be a flaw. The drink as we know it today must have borne little or no resemblance to what was consumed hundreds of years ago. The Kladstrups delve into many other aspects of the making and the keeping of champagne which are as engrossing as their sediment was handled, the trials and errors of storing champagne so the bottles would not explode, the care of the vineyards, and so on. I was surprised to hear that dry champagne was a rather late development and that its initial offerings were met with resistance as most people preferred their champagne to be sweet. The transportation of champagne is one of the more humorous parts of this offering.

As much as this book concerns itself with the product, it is even more a story of people and politics. The effects that wars had on the region of Champagne (and no one really knows where those boundaries begin and end) make it all the more surprising that champagne could ever have survived the onlsaught of armies inflicting a tremendous toll, most notably during World War I, on the vineyards and the people who owned and operated them.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By LAR on April 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I found the book an enjoyable read even though the authors' writing was a bit trite and simplistic. It did lack some flow in areas as the writers simply jumped from vignette to vignette, albeit they were all fairly entertaining. My biggest criticism is that the authors seemed to have lost interest in finishing the book. After taking us through several centuries of relevant history, approximately 60 pages was devoted to the plight of Champagne/champagne during WWI (which was, in my opinion, appropriate). However, only about 8 pages accounted for the WWII years, and then....the end! Apparently, there have been no new or interesting developments in Champagne / of champagne during the past six decades. I find this hard to believe, and is thus my biggest disappointment with the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Darby on February 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
After having read the Kladstrup's previous book, "Wine and War: The French, The Nazis, and France's Greatest Treasure", I knew I was in for a treat when a friend handed me a copy of their latest offering: "Champagne: How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times".

I was not disappointed. The authors have once again given readers a highly enjoyable (and exhaustively footnoted) peek into the history of the Champagne region of France, and the origins of, and dramatic evolutionary style changes in, its namesake wine.

Told in a style that's somewhat evocative of Ken Burn's highly acclaimed "Civil War" Epic, we see a countryside repeatedly overrun, looted and destroyed by the conquering hordes of Attila the Hun, the Roman Empire, the Prussians (Napoleonic era), and Germany (WWI & WWII); a countryside at war with itself (first the French Revolution, then riots over outsourcing and regional labeling); and a countryside devastated by vine-destroying pests (phylloxera) and recurring economic hardships (Prohibition, and the Great Depression). From each period, the authors give insightful glances behind the scenes, from the vantage point of growers, winemakers, cellar masters, merchants, soldiers, local residents, and community leaders who are repeatedly driven by circumstances to extraordinary measures - such as staging public protests, evacuating entire communitites into underground limestone tunnels during wartime bombardment, and engaging in armed resistance, and even international smuggling, in order to defend their lives, vines and livelihood.
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