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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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