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The True History of Chocolate Hardcover – May, 1996
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Top Customer Reviews
Michael Coe has taken a book about the history of Theobroma cacao (the chocolate plant) and turned it into an apology for the Aztecs and a bitter diatribe against Spain and, more diffusely, against Europeans in general, and against those benighted slobs who eat chocolate with less than 70% cacao. In the process, he commits many gross errors in scholarship that are severe enough that the critical reader begins to distrust him.
I developed a fascination with the Aztec and the Maya as a very young child and remember reading books about them in the very early 1970's. Even then, European and American scholars recognized that Aztec human sacrifice -- even the sacrifice of little children to Tlaloc in the cornfields -- wasn't carried out in a mood of sadistic glee, but because according to Aztec theology the gods and the sun needed blood in order to live or the universe would be destroyed. Aztec society was highly literate and they were supreme bureacrats, and they themselves documented tens of thousands of human sacrifices. They also documented the extent that royalty had to let their own blood by pulling spiked cords through their lips, and the fact that wars were carried out for the sole purpose of capturing prisoners so that priests could sacrifice them. One does not need to minimize anything about Aztec theology in order to condemn the Spaniards for dehumanizing the Aztecs.Read more ›
Secondly this book is a work of love. Finished by her husband, Michael D. Coe, who tried to pull together her research and write this book, it is an admirable book simply because of his motivation. However, the writing needs work in several sections that are awkward and an editor should have aided him more to make the the text clearer. The book is too heavily weighed toward pre-history where the evidence is most shaky and most changed over the decade plus since the book first came out. For later chapters the diagrams, images, and discussion are a good start but even there it feels uneven in terms of cultures covered and information given.
While Coe may have taken two years to pull together his wife's research and write the book, he really needed editorial help to see the places where there are gaps and to smooth out the roughly written sections. Furthermore a good editor should have insisted he or someone else update the book with the latest research. The diagrams and images are the best reason to buy this book but you'll want to think about the evidence before accepting interpretations; something you should do with any history book popular or scholarly anyway.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fascinating and fact-filled account of the history of chocolate from its Mayan origins to its reception in Europe during the early 1500s, the changing nature of its production... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Karen B
The word "true" suggests we're about to read a cohesive story of what really happened or that there would be some kind of dramatic or even mildly entertaining narrative. Read morePublished 5 months ago by MBS
Yum. This was a neat read on the history of one of my favorite topics.Published 5 months ago by Carolynn L. Parker
As one who works in craft chocolate, I recommend this book wholeheartedly. Informative, engaging and important. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jessica L Ferraro
I thought this book was much stronger in its recitation of the very early history of chocolate in Mesoamerica. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Michael O. Nelson
good history - with a little too much time on ancient history and not enough on how a few big candy comopanies have come to dominate the world marketPublished 16 months ago by C. A. heldt
This was an interesting book, but I contained way too much extraneous and tangential information. For example, was too much information about religion and Mesoamerica cultural... Read morePublished 17 months ago by VicP