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The devil's cup : coffee, the driving force in history
Allen, Stewart Lee.
Adult Nonfiction TX415 .A45 1999

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In this appealingly offbeat "coffeecentric history of humanity," Allen brews up a highly personal tribute to everyone's favorite legal recreational drug. Made of equal parts inspired travel writing and savvy cultural criticism, the book describes Allen's pilgrimages to coffee's major sites of interest. From the drink's origins in Harrar, Ethiopia, to its arguable demise at a place called Adrien's Coffeeshop somewhere along Route 66, Allen's espresso-powered peregrinations offer a lively study of coffee's role in world history. By turns worshiped and scorned for its psychoactive effects, the beverage has spawned legends almost as fabulous and seductive as the drink itself. It inspired the Islamic Whirling Dervishes, who slurped the stuff as a prelude to their bouts of religious ecstasy, and is thought to have precipitated the French Revolution, when citizens stormed the Bastille in part to liberate a coffee-deprived Marquis de Sade. To his credit, Allen, who claims he can tell in a sip that the coffee in a particular Ethiopian town is adulterated with smuggled Zairian Robusta beans, wisely avoids the overworked topic of Starbucks and its bid for a global latte empire. Mark Prendergast's social history, Uncommon Grounds (Forecasts, May 17), is more of an omnibus survey of the bean, but Allen's quirky insights more than make up for any scholarly shortcomings. Call it gonzo gastronomy: the work strikes just the right balance between the frenetic praise of a bug-eyed caffeine freak and the informed observations of a true connoisseur. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


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