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The Taste of Empire

The Taste of Empire

How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World


A history of the British Empire told through twenty meals eaten around the world


In The Taste of Empire, acclaimed historian Lizzie Collingham tells the story of how the British Empire’s quest for food shaped the modern world. Told through twenty meals over the course of 450 years, from the Far East to the New World, Collingham explains how Africans taught Americans how to grow rice, how the East India Company turned opium into tea, and how Americans became the best-fed people in the world. In The Taste of Empire, Collingham masterfully shows that only by examining the history of Great Britain’s global food system, from sixteenth-century Newfoundland fisheries to our present-day eating habits, can we fully understand our capitalist economy and its role in making our modern diets.

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Genre: Nonfiction / History / Europe / Great Britain

On Sale: October 3rd 2017

Price: $16.99

Page Count: 408

ISBN-13: 9780465093175

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Praise

Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4
"Collingham writes about the British Empire from a unique perspective.... The history of West Indian sugar, African slavery, and American colonization is an oft-told tale, but Collingham takes mere mercantilism and expands and deepens its consequences."—Booklist, starred review
"This is a wholly pleasing book, which offers a tasty side dish to anyone exploring the narrative history of the British Empire."
Max Hastings, Sunday Times (UK)
"An original and thought-provoking book and for all the shocking accounts of the consequences of British appetites, a highly entertaining one."
The Times (UK)
"Lizzie Collingham's fascinating new book, The Taste of Empire, demonstrates that a cup of tea is never just a cup of tea--it is a history of trade, exchange, land-grab, agricultural innovation and economic change.... This is a marvelously wide-ranging and readable book, stuffed with engaging details and startling connections."
Financial Times
"This ingeniously constructed history shows that what we think of as personal appetites have largely been constructed by the machinations of empire. The Taste of Empire uses vivid snapshots of meals to tell the story of how Britain's quest for food drove its imperial ambitions. Collingham takes the reader on a powerful journey ranging from the sugary tea of Great Britain to the rum punch of Boston. Like Sidney Mintz or Margaret Visser, Collingham is a historian whose writing about food informs larger stories about human existence: about conflict and culture, about economics and politics. I was dazzled by Collingham's writing and her book also left me very hungry."
Bee Wilson, author of First Bite
"The Taste of Empire has a hidden history: the menu, and how it changed the world. Lizzie Collingham has uncovered an epic that runs from domestic comedy to horror to the startling shifts that brought rice to America, maize to Africa, and tea to India. She makes it absorbing and utterly readable, mixing the huge economic story with exact and fascinating glimpses into past lives. You'll never see a biscuit tin the same way once you know how they were used in the Zulu Wars."—Michael Pye, author of The Edge of the World
"Beyond gold and glory, an insatiable lust for foreign foods drove the juggernaut of British imperialism. So shows Lizzie Collingham in this rich economic history, drawing on annals military, mercantile and domestic to reveal the complex routes along with the fruits of the colonial fields and fisheries were shunted into Britain's dining rooms."
Nature
"An energetic and refreshing account of a little considered aspect of British history.... A remarkable achievement."—Guardian