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Six Thousand Years of Bread: Its Holy and Unholy History (Cooks Classic Library) Paperback – July 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Series: Cooks Classic Library
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: The Lyons Press; 1st,Revised edition (July 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558215751
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558215757
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #760,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Bread's history has frequently been a recipe for disaster. The well-baked loaf--aside from being the main event in one of the major food groups--has caused wars, supernatural visions, festivals, and plagues. H. E. Jacob's celebratory book toasts bread from its earliest beginnings in Egypt, where it was one of the treasures entombed with the dead, to the author's own experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, where a bread made of sawdust kept him alive. The maker of paupers and kings, our daily bread and its evolutions are deliciously described in this illuminating text.

Review

“Rarely has a book intended for a popular audience displayed evidence of more exhaustive scholarship. . . . The amount of information Mr. Jacob has unearthed that will be new to most readers is simply astonishing.” —The New York Times

“This is not merely a book about bread as bread, the end result of grass seed ground into flour, but about bread as a signifier of transformation, both personally and historically.” —Peter Reinhart, from his foreword

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By J. EE on February 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As a bread baker, I read this book anticipating information on bread through history. Who would have ever known that bread was so important. What a bonus it was learning about agriculture, religion, politics, literature , etc. and their connection to bread. It was facinating how the author found so many connections to bread, which was obviously more important in history than it is today-(referring to low-carb craze). The first 90 pages are a "tough-read", but it gets easier. I have purchased 6 more copies and am distributing them to friends. A very valuable book in my estimation. The deceased author (book published in 1944 and translated from German for the current edition)would have been quite surprised to see what has happened since 1944. If writing more chapters after 1944, he would certainly need a chapter on "chemical bread"-bread on the grocer's shelf that has a 30 day shelf life due to addition of anti-molding agents (sounds healthy doesn't it) requested by the grocery chains. It smells awful. Anyone that loves history, religion or agriculture would certainly find this book enlightening.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
I bumped into Jacobs' book by accident while browsing the shelves in a library; what a joy to see it's been reissued! (The edition I found was dated 1943.) I have learned so much interesting history from this book; the Temple of Eleusis and its similarities to the life of Christ; the invention of the windmill; why the village hated the miller and Chaucer's Miller's Tale; on and on, there are fascinating things in each new thread he picks up.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful By shuvalkin on April 4, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jacob's Six Thousand Years of Bread is an amazing presentation of the relationship between bread and the history of Western Civilization. Even if it were just about bread's history, it would be an amazing book given its scope and knowledge. But it isn't REALLY about bread. It uses bread as an access point for discussing transformations of values and paradigms of knowledge through history. In a word, Jacobs presents a philosophical "genealogy" of Western Civilization through a discussion of the role of bread.
Thus, Jacob's is a unique philosophical work. I can't think of any other book in philosophy or history that makes such a clear presentation of the causes and forces of historical transformation. In fact, the term "genealogy" I have used above has a specific sense that is relevant here. Coined by Nietzsche, "genealogy" is a strategy employed for a philosophical discussion of historical transformations of the sort Jacob discusses. But whether comparing Jacob to Nietzsche, Foucault, Derrida, Heidegger, or even Hegel and Kant, I can't think of a better example of a philosophical discussion of historical transformations of values and knowledge. As a bonus, the Jacob's method of using a history of bread to present this genealogy makes it far more approachable than most philosophical discussions. I can't recommend a book more highly. I might even use it as a recommended reading for students in my philosophy classes.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Iannolo on July 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
I had always known bread was a staple of life. Rarely has a day gone by when I have not consumed it in one form or another. But I had no idea what an important role it played in the development of historical record.

Jacob's poetic prose is sometimes tangential, but he delivers such fascinating tidbits that a reader cannot possibly mind the distraction. In explaining the development of bread in ancient Egypt, where it originated, he says: "The threshing floor is the battlefield between the tenacity of the stalk and men's hunger for flour."

I recommend that you read this book curled up in a cozy chair with a cup of tea and a fresh, warm slice of rye. Your view of history is about to be changed.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Allen Burns on June 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
I picked up a copy of Six Thousand Years of Bread in an anitque shop. It sat on my shelf for years. I finally read it. WOW! What a fascinating look into the history of civilization-all based on grain and bread. According to H.E. Jacob's convincing theories, the rise and fall of nations is all attributed to grain and bread. H.E. Jacob, a Nazi Germany escapee is an excellent writer and the book reads like an intriguing mystery novel that spans 6,000 years.
It was published in 1944 and ends it's story during WWII. I would love to see it revised and expanded to include new discoveries about history and to bring it 's story into the 21st Century.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John J. Browne on January 15, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a very interesting book which sets forth the impact that bread has throughout history, art, religion and politics down through the ages. Beginning with the earliest cultivators of grains through the manmade famines of World War II Jacob details the close relationship that bread has had with the growth of human civilization. The book does not take a merely historical approach but rather provides an overview of human development through bread's effect on art, religion, society and government. One learns why the miller was considered a force of evil in medieval Europe, why the peasants were tied to the land and the effect this had on class interaction and the role of bread in the development of Christianity. There is quite a bit of commentary on the advantages that America had vis a vi Europe in regard to our relationship to bread. The vast social changes caused in America by our forefather's initial reliance on corn as opposed to wheat are an especially fascinating section of this book. Although the book was written during World War II it is still relevant today. This book will be enjoyed by anyone who studies history, art, religion, sociology and related subjects.
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