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
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Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.