Saturday, March 14, 2020

Audiobook Review - Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World by Michael Pollan

I'm not a coffee drinker, but I am fascinated by the whole culture that has grown around this drug, similar to cultures that grow around any drug. I wasn't sure whether this book would reveal anything of interest, or if the author--who is a coffee addict--would be honest about all aspects of caffeine or just gloss over the less savory ones.

Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World by Michael Pollan is a history and analysis of caffeine, it's rise and spread as something humans consumed throughout history, and its benefits and harms. It is available as an Audible exclusive Audiobook.

The Good

Honesty. The author readily admits that coffee is a drug, that people who drink it (including himself) are addicts, and that while there are a few benefits from drinking caffeine (either in coffee, tea, or soda pop) there are many serious harms as well. And yet he keeps drinking it because of the how powerful the lure is and has no reservations about it despite freely admitting it is a poison further showing just how addictive it is.

History & Insights. I wasn't very familiar with the history of caffeine beyond the story of chocolate, so this was really interesting. I didn't realize how caffeine helped promote slavery both for growing plants to make hot drinks and sugar to make them palatable, the Opium Wars with China and the drug problems those created, and several class systems in history that are still going one to this day.

Narration. The author narrates this book and does an excellent job. He has a good voice and lots of character and energy.

The Bad

Understanding of Evolution. The author is amazed that caffeine could exist and tries to use evolution to explain it and while saying evolution is just chance ascribes it a deliberate conscious with a purpose.

What I Would Like to Have Seen



Caffeine: How Caffeine Created the Modern World by Michael Pollan is a fascinating and insightful look at the history of caffeine, the positive and negative effects it has on both the individual and the development of society and business, and the personal and social harms it has caused from sleep dysfunction to slavery and the Opium Wars with China. I highly recommend this audiobook and give it 5 out of 5 eReaders.



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