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A Short History of Wine Hardcover – October 16, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco (October 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0066212820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066212821
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #643,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The consummate companion to any good glass of wine, this engaging book delves into the robust history of the beverage and investigates its vitality as what Phillips calls "a product, a commodity and an icon." An opening anecdote regarding the cancellation of a recent Iranian state visit to France (the French demanded dinner wine; Muslim law forbids alcohol consumption) perfectly frames both the range of cultural dispositions toward wine and the complex role it has played on the stage of world history. Investigating archeological and botanical evidence, Phillips, a professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, travels 7,000 years into the past to uncover the historical roots of wine-production and, by detailing the earliest bacchanals and trade routes through which wine entered public life and value systems, he investigates the role of wine as a commodity. In addition to studying the shifting economic and cultural importance of wine throughout history, Phillips also closely analyzes the effects of alcoholism and drink-induced violence. Wine, he poetically suggests, can be both a yield of the gods and the fruit of the devil, a commodity that paradoxically crosses borders while establishing lines between classes, and a product "of society more than of nature." Phillips's work wonderfully reveals all the histories readers might only have guessed at while thumbing through Chaucer, Boccaccio or Rimbaud, and his book provides a comprehensive reading of Western civilization through the bell of a wine glass.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Phillips, a history professor and author of several other books, including Society, State and Nation, looks at the various sociological, economic, political, and religious forces that have shaped the supply and demand for wine from ancient times to the 20th century. Phillips does a good job of illustrating how such factors as storage methods, means of transportation, changing tastes, and taxes have influenced what wines are produced and consumed in various parts of the world, but the broad scope of his work limits the amount of space devoted to any one particular wine-producing region in a given time period. The author's dense, scholarly writing style may deter readers in search of a quick, popular overview of this subject, for which Hugh Johnson's Vintage: The Story of Wine (1989. o.p.) would be a better choice, but academic and large public libraries in need of this type of historical survey should consider this for their collections. John Charles, Scottsdale P.L., AZ
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Sulonen Reijo on February 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is definitely an exciting book for anybody interested not only in wines but also in history. With a bit more than 300 pages Rod Phillips paints a fascinating journey of wine from its unknown origins the politico-economic-cultural-medical scenes of today. The task is not small. Rod Phillips does an excellent job. To write history of this nature you must be a historian, which is the author's trade; without this background the intricate connections between world history and wine would remain shallow. In a way the book is a (limited) view on world history. The book is well written and contains many delightful stories in the long history of wine. I would have enjoyed the book even more if some additional editorial work had been done. For a reader the trends and economic significance of wine could have become more clear with tables or figures summarizing the abundant information contained in the book which is further blurred by the unsystematic usage of measures; litres, hectolitres, gallons, not to speak about ancient hard-to-understand measures are being used in parallel complicating matters unnecessarily. I personally would have appreciated a sepatate treatement of vines.
I am sure wine tastes different after having read this delightful little book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Hoffman, author:Radiation Days: A Comedy VINE VOICE on December 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
A 'history' of wine is necessarily a matter of elimination.

What to leave out? What to include? Rod Phillips has chosen

to focus on the political and social context in which wine

and the wine trade developed. Fortunately, wine is at least

as much a cultural product as an agricultural one so his

effort is both appropriate, necessary and a bit overdue.

The author is a historian, so we get sharp attention paid

to some things that are left out of most wine histories:

*aside from Patrick McGovern's Ancient Wine, no one has

done as literate a treatment of the questions surrounding

wine in prehistory and the Classical Period. It's refreshing

to see an author acknowledge the Mycenaean roots of winegrowing

in the Mediterranean.

*in a very few pages, the author deals with the intricate

nature of the relationship between Bordeaux and England.

In the course of the explanation, he underlines the

significance of trade in the development of wine regions

and styles.

*the chapter called Wine and Its Enemies quite rightly

deals with anti-wine forces in the natural world (phylloxera)

and in the cultural world (prohibition).

*the chapter on the wine revival in the late twentieth

century gives due emphasis to the rôle of corporate mergers

and huge drinks companies in the development of wine.

The author is on less sure footing here with the cultural

underpinnings of the wine revival. Did the upheavals of

the Sixties have anything to do with it?
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are serious about really teaching wine appreciation, this book is a must. Delving into the important historical elements of wine, the book is a vital reference.
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