- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Ecco (October 16, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0066212820
- ISBN-13: 978-0066212821
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.4 x 8.5 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: #540,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Short History of Wine Hardcover – October 16, 2001
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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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Top customer reviews
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
*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? Is this not also
the time of a wine decline as consumption decreases in
wine's traditional european homelands?
This book would have benefitted from closer proofreading
and a slightly more generous application of maps. On the
other hand, the cover is a work of pure genius. I have
never seen a wine book cover that so effectively evoked
wine's pleasures, its wetness and (yes) its redness.
--Lynn Hoffman, author of THE NEW SHORT COURSE IN WINE and the
forthcoming novel bang-BANG from Kunati Books ISBN 9781601640005
I am sure wine tastes different after having read this delightful little book.