Meticulously researched and written with clear-minded authority, this book is a remarkable way of telling the human story.

BEER

A GLOBAL JOURNEY THROUGH THE PAST & PRESENT

A fascinating book that demonstrates the long and complex history behind the world’s most popular alcoholic beverage.

The first evidence of beer dates from about 11,000 B.C.E., with pottery in a cave in Israel containing residue of a drink made from fermented grains. In his latest book, Arthur, a professor of anthropology at the University of South Florida, uses the development of beer to recount the story of civilization. Beer appears in nearly all ancient cultures, and the author enthusiastically ranges across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Recent research shows that beer production was as much a part of early settlements as bread making, with wild grains being domesticated for the purpose, and it was an important source of calories. As societies developed, beer types proliferated, and it even became a sort of currency. Workers on many of the world’s ancient monuments were often paid in beer. In Mesoamerica, beer was made from corn and maize and had a key role in religious ceremonies. The Vikings apparently liked their beer sweet, so they added honey and bog myrtle, which they took with them on their conquests. The British, as their empire expanded, spread hops all over the world, and it eventually became the most common ingredient. Arthur includes a selection of beer recipes, some of them thousands of years old, and notes that many of them are tasty, even to the modern palate. However, he believes that due to massive corporations, beer has become a somewhat generic product, solidly profitable but a little bland. On the positive side, he applauds the resurgence of craft beers, which use a multitude of ingredients to create complex, layered flavors. One way or another, he writes, the path ahead for beer looks as interesting as the road behind. So next time you raise a glass, think about the history contained within.

Meticulously researched and written with clear-minded authority, this book is a remarkable way of telling the human story.

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-19-757980-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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ON JUNETEENTH

The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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