Variously regarded as a sacred, religious drink, an inebriant, and even the work of the Devil, throughout the ages wine has generated passions that verge on mania. In A Short History of Wine, Rod Phillips tells the story of wine in the Western world with all its grandeurs and miseries. Packed with fascinating stories, unexpected insights, and the myriad tricks of the trade, A Short History of Wine is an essential book for anyone who treats this most venerated drink with the zeal it deserves.
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Rod Phillips has studied in Canada, New Zealand, and England. He is professor of history at Carlton University, Ottawa, where he teaches courses on the history of alcohol, the family, and French society. He has held fellowships in several countries, and his books have been widely translated.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.
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