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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars God and Guinness....even for the non-beer lover!
I was a little doubtful that I would enjoy this book, but decide to read it anyway. I thought I'd plod through it, not really like it that much, but maybe learn a little history about Ireland.

I was wrong.

I really, really liked this book. I liked the first chapter that focused on the history of beer pre-Guinness. I liked the second chapter that told...
Published on October 30, 2009 by B. Furby

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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pull me a pint, reverend
The relationship between God and an alcoholic beverage might be a bit startling at first, but the book The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield shows that the connection makes perfect sense in this instance. The book begins with a very detailed history of beer itself, even tracing some arguments that state the desire to brew beer contributed to the abandonment...
Published on November 5, 2009 by Lisa Ahlstedt


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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars God and Guinness....even for the non-beer lover!, October 30, 2009
By 
B. Furby "UpsidedownB" (Southern Pines, NC United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World (Hardcover)
I was a little doubtful that I would enjoy this book, but decide to read it anyway. I thought I'd plod through it, not really like it that much, but maybe learn a little history about Ireland.

I was wrong.

I really, really liked this book. I liked the first chapter that focused on the history of beer pre-Guinness. I liked the second chapter that told the story of Arthur Guinness, his faith, and his philosophy on business and wealth. The third chapter goes on to describe the passing of the chairmanship of the company from one Guinness to another through each generation. The fourth chapter was excellent and focused on the social good that Guinness has done throughout the years by benefiting both their community in general and their workers specifically. The fifth chapter was an interesting look at the Guinness line that did not participate in the brewery business but went into various forms of ministry from evangelistic preaching to foreign missionary work. The sixth chapter took a look at the business as it grew into and through the twentieth century. Finally, Mansfield ended with a superb epilogue that summarizes "The Guinness Way" and how we might learn from it today both in our business and our personal lives. This would be a great book for the beer lover or history buff in your family!

Favorite Quote: "Drunkenness is when the tongue walks on stilts and reason goes forward under half a sail." - Martin Luther (pg. 30)

Favorite Passage: ...it must also be true that a company should be measured by the culture it creates. Culture. It means "what is encouraged to grow," the "behavior and ways of thinking that are inspired." Despite what a company's advertising may boast, aside from what mascot it adopts or the slogan it uses, it is what is inspired in the life of its people that is the most important indicator of how noble a venture that company may be. (pp. 121-122)

DUH Moment: Did you know that The Guinness Book of Records originated from the Guinness company as a pamphlet meant as a promotional gimmick in 1954 for pubs in Ireland and the United Kingdom? Duh. Never put the two names together!

Interesting Fact: In 1954 Guinness dropped 50,000 bottles with messages dropped in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans with the intent for people to find them and then contact Guinness to find out where the bottle was originally dropped. Oh, and to receive a "suitable memento of the occasion." In 1959, Guinness dropped 150,000 more bottles for their 200th anniversary. Bottles were found in the Azores, South America, the West Indies, the Philippines, and India. Bottles are still found today at a rate of one or two a year! Bet we couldn't have a company do an advertising promotion like that today!

I highly recommend this book. It's well written, historically interesting, and spiritually edifying. As a matter of fact, I'm passing it on to my boss next week! Enjoy -
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pull me a pint, reverend, November 5, 2009
By 
Lisa Ahlstedt (Knoxville, TN USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World (Hardcover)
The relationship between God and an alcoholic beverage might be a bit startling at first, but the book The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield shows that the connection makes perfect sense in this instance. The book begins with a very detailed history of beer itself, even tracing some arguments that state the desire to brew beer contributed to the abandonment of the nomadic lifestyle of early humans. In the early 1700s, when the Guinness family first started brewing beer, the water was undrinkable but gin was cheap and plentiful. Arthur Guinness wanted to provide a drink that would be safer and more nutritious than what was currently available. Because of his deep faith, as his business became successful Guinness became active in social causes, founding Sunday schools and hospitals for the poor. After his death, future generations of the Guinness family continued with socially responsible activities, paying a high wage to workers and providing generous benefits. This example of generosity set the standard for other employers in Dublin and improved living conditions for everyone in the city. The book is written in a chatty, amusing style and the author's glowing respect for the company is obvious.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In Search of God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield, October 30, 2009
By 
This review is from: The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World (Hardcover)
Guinness is a name that is synonymous with beer, but Stephen Mansfield shows that there is more to the famous family than just
the black stout that bears their name. The founder of the world renowned brewery, Arthur Guinness, was a godly man who
truly loved his fellow man as well as a pint. He felt that brewing a stout beer was a service to his fellow man by offering
a healthy beverage, but he also believed it was a calling upon his life by God. The bane of Irish society at the time
was gin and whiskey drinking, which was tearing families apart. Most people considered beer to be the answer to
this problem. Enter Arthur Guinness. The good that was done by Guinness for over two centuries, is recorded by Mansfield
with plenty of historical documentation.

I was very curious about the angle of this book. I mean, I never would have thought to put God and beer in the same sentence,
let alone read an entire book about it, but here it is. It was very interesting, and I am not even a beer drinker. My father was
a beer man and I have only recently even drank wine, but the way Mansfield presents the history of beer, going back thousands
of years to Mesopotamia and then going straight to the pubs of 1700's Dublin, he gives us an interesting read. He also points
out the social aspects of "having a beer" and how people have always bonded over the drink. The family history of the godly
character of the Guinnesses was of great interest, especially how they cared about the brewery employees and the neighborhoods
of Dublin during a time of poverty, pestilence and filth.

Personally, I have a hard time agreeing with Mansfield's idea (which was also the idea of most brewers) that beer was/is
a gift from God, a symbol of His grace. With that being said, I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to the curious Christian
as well as the beer drinker who may or may not be a Christian as well. Well written, engaging and full of interesting information,
especially about the clergymen who were Guinnesses. It almost made me want to go to the corner public house and down a pint.

I am a member of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger program
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great concept, fascinating story, irritating writing, November 19, 2009
By 
Patrick Oden (San Dimas, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World (Hardcover)
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This book is, like alcohol itself, a mixed blessing. The story is fascinating to be sure, and is worth getting simply for that. So, I would recommend the book for anyone remotely interested. Less a story about the beer, this is more a story of the family who make the beer, both those directly involved in the business as well as those who were sons and daughters who went other directions. What is interesting is how much of the Guinness story is the story of mission. They saw their business not only as a craft to master, but also as a gift to offer the country of Ireland. They were Protestants who fought against the terrible religions divisions, and were makers of peace in fractious, poverty stricken times.

Essentially, this makes the book less about Guinness beer and more about what is commonly now considered "missional" work--sharing the love of God among neighbors, poor and rich, transforming the society in a positive way.

For those who know nothing about this side of the Guinness legacy,it's quite interesting.

And yet... I was continually put off by the writing itself. Rather than letting us enter into the story, conveying the fruits of solid historical research that brings us into the narrative, Mansfield is a bit like a pre-adolescent story teller. He's constantly intruding and often feels the need to anticipate what is coming next. We begin to feel a flow and he undermines it by telling us, "oh, this is the good part" or "here's the end of the story I'm about to tell." He is a lot more like a tourist to the story than a teller of it.

We are event treated to pictures of him in key places. "Here's the author in the pew of the church!" Rather than being personable, this kind of intrusion quickly gets annoying. Added to this, he is constantly quoting long passages from other biographies. Giving it the feel of a high school "what I did last summer" essay.

In other words, this is a pretty pedestrian historical study, more of a travelogue through an interesting family history.

But it is interesting. And while I don't like his constant intrusion nor his writing style, Mansfield has a great concept and overall approach, making it an easily digested study.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Search for God and Guinness, October 7, 2009
This review is from: The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World (Hardcover)
What a privilege it's been to read Stephen Mansfield's "The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World". I was especially intrigued by the title and it was immediately a must read for me. The respect that Mansfield gives the history of the Guinness family is quite apparent as he gives account of the lineage from the first Arthur Guinness through each generation, the apparent heirs along the way and how each made their mark in making the brand "Guinness" into what it is today. He tells the story of the God-given talents given to many in the family that resulted in three main categories of Guinnesses, the Brewing Guinnesses, the Banking Guinnesses and the Guinnesses for God. He also provides a very good overview of how beer was accepted and its purpose through the ages in accordance with religious views of the times.

I truly loved this book. Having grown up in a small denomination that embraced the Prohibition, my own views of alcohol use has evolved slowly, albeit it has evolved. I loved the time travel through religious views through the ages and how beer and alcohol was part of the culture and easily accepted as a healthy choice and necessary choice, in many cases. The religious overview was very helpful and held my attention. The only problem I had in reading this book was keeping straight which generation accomplished which milestones and accomplishments due to family names being passed down from fathers to sons. But I certainly don't blame Mansfield for my confusion.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that is interested in history, business practices and how one person's faith and integrity has built a brand and a family that is still highly revered two hundred fifty years later. If you are like I was, open your mind and consider something that is bigger than your box. You'll be so glad you did.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little about God, a little about Guinness, tenuously about both at the same time!, December 10, 2009
By 
Gerrymander (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World (Hardcover)
Beginning with much promise, Stephen Mansfield's The Search for God and Guinness: A biography of the beer that changed the world, left me a little disappointed, somewhat confused, though pleased I'd had the opportunity to read the book.

The book begins with an exploration of the connection between Christianity, beer and wider society. Mansfield seeks to show the reader that not only should beer not be seen by Christians as an `evil' in society but rather, when `well respected and rightly consumed, can be a gift from God' (xxv). At this point, it seems that there will be a strong link between the Guinness people, the Guinness beer and service to society. Yet, as the story unfolds, these links become increasingly tenuous.

For those who enjoy history, biography and beer, this remains an interesting read. The stories of Arthur Guinness and, indeed, the Grattan Guinness clan are revealing and well told. Though, as Mansfield does make clear, there seemed to be three, sometimes rather distinct, vocational paths for Guinness family members: beer, clergy and social concern. To make a link between beer and God when the brewery-owning Guinness is not the same person as the evangelical social crusader seems a tad disingenuous.

I think the book would have benefited greatly from the inclusion of a family tree at the outset. If the book had then been divided into more chapters or, at least, subsections, there could have been an image of the part of the family tree relevant to the persons being discussed in each section.

Nevertheless, it was an interesting project on which to embark and has been well-researched and written by Mansfield. It may not go down as one of the most inspiring or gripping books I have read, but I would be pleased to recommend it to others who would be interested in some of the history of the great Irish beer.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timely Book About Corporate Responsibility And Impacting The Community, November 24, 2009
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This review is from: The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World (Hardcover)
So I'm part of this cool "we'll give you a free book if you post a review in your blog" dealy-o with Thomas Nelson Publishers. The first book I picked was something that immediately piqued my interest - a book about the Guinness brewery. It has been a dream of mine for some time to take a trip to Ireland, and one of the places I would definitely visit is the place where Guinness is brewed. I don't drink very often - and at my latest position, I had to sign something that stated I wouldn't - but I've always liked the way Guinness tasted and have had a few of them in my life.

It's interesting because a few months ago I was having a "conversation" online on a message board about a story I had heard concerning Guinness - that the founder of Guinness looked around his Dublin neighborhoods and saw fathers who were drinking away their money rather than spending it on their families, so he decided to create a drink that would be good for them, be filling so that they only spent a little on alcohol and that they would support their families. The problem in this conversation was determining the validity of this story: googling it produced nothing, so we assumed that since we couldn't find any sources denying it, that it must be true.

It's not. That's one of the first things you discover reading The Search For God And Guinness. Which for me was kind of disappointing; after all, we all love good stories, especially those heart-warming stories about incredible people (not to mention it's always a good thing when you can find some justification for drinking a beer: "Hey, I'm drinking Guinness because it will fill me up and I won't spend as much money on beer.")

However, The Search For God And Guinness is a fascinating tale of the Guinness brewery and the family who founded it: starting with Arthur Guinness, who was quite the man. Although generations of the Guinness family grew the company to what it is today (a beer empire), it was Arthur Guinness' vision that started the whole ball rolling.

To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of Guinness was the way from the beginning the company took care of its employees. These days (well, maybe not so much "these days", since a lot of companies are cutting health care benefits and other things because of the economy, so let's say "in recent times"), we take it for granted that a company would want to take care of those who work for it, but back in the early days of Guinness, that was a rarity. Arthur Guinness understood that if he wanted his employees to work hard and be loyal to his company, he had to provide them with benefits that would keep them happy and their families taken care of.

Guinness also not only cared for its own employees, but also for the community around the brewery. Arthur Guinness started the first Sunday School program for kids in Dublin, which showed how religion played an important part in his life. Several of the Guinness family throughout the ages have decided to forgo the brewery business to enter in the ministry, and church was a staple in most of the Guinness families' lives.

Another fascinating part of this book was the description of the life of Dr. John Lumsden, who was brought on board as the chief medical officer. Lumsden was a man of deep conviction and compassion and helped improved not only the lives of the Guinness worker and family, but also the lives of the underprivileged and poor of Dublin. He was the one who urged the Guinness brewery to champion the cause of the poor and needy. The amazing thing was not only the compassion of this man, but also that the leaders of Guinness decided to do it! From the book:

It is a tribute to the enduring benevolence of the Guinness firm that the board that convened in 1901 was eager to follow Dr. Lumsden's suggestions. It might have been otherwise...They might have felt themselves bullied and manipulated by this upstart, this fresh-faced young doctor with his novel ideas of corporate duties to the poor...instead, they threw themselves into the vision Lumsden had set.

Lumsden offered nine suggestions for improving workers' lives:

1. Technical education for the younger generation
2. Popular lectures of educational value
3. A program of athletics and exercise
4. Literature encouraging hygiene and the prevention of disease
5. Courses in cooking for mothers and young women
6. Education regarding the feeding of infants
7. Recreational opportunities in the form of concerts or social
8. Opportunities for management and laborers to meet and socialize
9. Housing

Like most biography type books, there were certain sections that I felt were a little too detailed, but for the most part The Search For God And Guinness kept me intrigued throughout the book. Here were two issues that I think resonated with me the most:

1. Corporate Responsibility

In today's age, with all of the corporate scandals and greed, and the ever-increasing gap between the CEO and the workers under that CEO, it's refreshing to read about a company who cared for the well-being and development of its workers over making money. We all understand that a company's main focus is to make money, no one is debating that. But to make money at the "expense" of the workers who are making it happen is a travesty. Now, I know that there are many "secular" companies who are doing good things for their workers, and good things for the community and such - however, we mostly only read about the "bad stories", after all bad sells (Enron-World Com-nameyourmessedupcompanyhere). However, I believe a generation is being raised up right now of people who are demanding that companies exist for more than just the bottom line: the almight dollar. And they aren't just demanding it, they are using their buying power to make changes. I think we will see this movement grow throughout the next decade, and it would be beneficial for corporations to look in the past and see what the Guinness brewery did and emulate their corporate responsibility code.

2. The Divide Between "Secular" and "Sacred"

Guinness helped break down the wall between secular and sacred by showing that a person didn't have to be a minister or a missionary to make a difference spiritually in the lives of people. Good things can happen outside of the walls of a church, it can even happen inside a brewery (gasp!). Stephen Mansfield, the author, showed his distaste of other biographies on Guinness, because too often they branched the Guinness family into three groups: the brewery Guinness family, the banking Guinness family, and the God-following Guinness family. To do so, argues Mansfield, is to lessen the impact that the other branches (brewery and banking) had spiritually as well. This type of thinking is one of the reasons why we as ministers feel like we have to do everything in a church: because our people don't recognize (either because we've told them or because that's their expectation) that no matter what they do as a career, it can be used for God.

I really enjoyed this book and it gave me new appreciation for the lasting impact a company, even a brewery, can have on the world. My hope and prayer is that we will see more companies take the example of Guinness and show more corporate responsibility towards its employees and the community around it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What does God have to do with brewing beer?, October 4, 2009
By 
Jennifer Baier "Jenni" (Pineville, Louisiana, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World (Hardcover)
This book explores the history of Guinness and lets us peer into the lives of those who turned the dark brew into an internationally recognized brand. Along the way we meet real people with genuine faith and a deep commitment not only to improve the quality of their product, but to improve their employees' quality of life.

Guinness was far ahead of its time in providing education and health benefits to its workers. They also had a tremendous impact outside of the brewery through social activism and missionary work.

This book caught my attention because God and Guinness struck me as an odd couple. The title might even seem sacrilegious to some. Yet Mansfield reminds us that only a century ago, Christian attitudes towards alcohol (beer in particular) were very different.

If you believe that beer always was and always will be indisputably evil, you may not like this book - but you should read it anyway! Beyond the brewery, this book tells the stories of Christians who lived out their faith in the workplace. They stood up for unpopular social causes. They gave back to their communities. They took care of their workers. And they did it all despite famines and wars, economic downturns and political upheavals. Those are lessons we could all stand to learn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Read, December 7, 2009
This review is from: The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World (Hardcover)
Having never been a been drinker myself, I was still drawn to read this book because I had the opportunity to visit the Guinness brewery with my brother on a trip to Dublin. My brother has always been a Guinness fan, and also read this book.

The book chronicles Arthur Guinness and how he began the company that had a huge impact on Ireland and on the beer brewing industry. Until I read this, I didn't know that beer was created as an alternative to the stronger liquor that was felt to create problems in families. I didn't know how one could possibly put beer and God in the same sentence. It was interesting to me to learn that beer has long played a role in the Christian community and that the Guinness family were committed to spreading Christianity. Some of the family were bankers, some missionaries, and brewers, all feeling the call to serve God in their respective professions. Arthur Guiness was a visionary and clearly believed in what he was doing, shown in one way by obtaining a 9,000 year lease on the property where he built his brewery.

I also found it fascinating how the Guinness company took care of their people. They believed strongly in taking care of their employees, even paying half salaries to the family when a man was sent to war so that he didn't have to worry about how his family would survive while gone. They invested in the people and the community, using their wealth to serve others, a great example of servant leadership. Companies today could learn from this; perhaps they, too, would reap the blessings that the Guinness family received. This is a good example of how a business can do well by the people they work with, serve their community, and still be profitable.

I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others. It is a good read that covers some of the history of Ireland, the history of brewing beer, and the history of the Guinness family. It would make a great Christmas gift for the beer lover in your life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving story about the righteous use of wealth - and that wonderful stout!, November 29, 2009
This review is from: The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World (Hardcover)
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Up until reading this book, I never thought about history when I ordered a beer. I figured every brewer was more or less the same, and this beer wasn't anything special other than being known as "The Dark Stout".

It is impossible for me to order a Guinness now without sharing some of the knowledge I gleaned from Stephen Mansfield's book - the beer has a history, to be certain, but so does the family. Their good works brought a lot of positive change into our world.

Section #1 gives us a brief history of beer as a whole. Early Christians felt that beer and wine, used in moderation, were seen as gifts from God. This is a perfect lead-in to the family who would make it an art form.

Section #2 introduces us to Arthur Guinness. While this man felt a moral mandate to make beer brewing his life's work, he also firmly believed and practiced the virtues and responsibilities of wealth, to give all he can to those in need. This is evidenced by his founding of the first Sunday Schools in Ireland, and his years of service on the board of Meath hospital.

Section #3 shows us the history of Arthur's heirs and the passing of the family business from one to another. Their dedication to making the company grow with cutting-edge innovations was closely matched by their generosity. For example, Benjamin Guinness not only targeted foreign markets and tripled the acreage covered by the plant, but he helped to restore St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Section #4 tells us about "The Good That Wealth Can Do." I was deeply moved by the tale of Dr. John Lumsden, a Guinness employee that sought to better the lives of others. He visited over 1,700 homes and proposed ideas such as offering cooking classes, appointing dwelling inspectors, and using company influence to keep laborers from living in poor housing. He formed the St. John Ambulance Squad and taught first aid to Guinness workers, no doubt saving several lives as a result.

Section #5 goes into the history of the Guinness family members that chose to make serving God their sole vocation. We learn about Henry Grattan Guinness, a successful preacher who trained and sent hundreds of faith missionaries all over the world. He not only predicted the end of Ottoman rule in Jerusalem, but the restoration of Israel - and this was after his death!

Section #6 brings Guinness to the 20th century. The reader is introduced to the Guinness World Travelers, the pain of prohibition, the start of Guinness advertising including the still-running bottle-drop campaign, and still the innovations continue (as evidenced by the rocket widget).

All in all, I felt this was an amazing story. I not only learned about the history of Guinness beer, I learned about a family that took a slogan [My hope is in God] and used it to help their fellow man as much as they could. Stephen Mansfield was kind enough to cite his sources throughout the book, giving us several other books to sink our teeth into.

I started to tell a coworker about this book and when he left that evening, he told me he was going to swing by his favorite Irish pub and partake in a pint of Guinness. This goes to show a link exists between a thirst for beer and a thirst for knowledge.

Satisfy your thirst - pick up this book.
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