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A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bibber, Swigger, or Tippler?

Wine, Beer, or Spirits?

This was on Strange Maps

My old history professor John Lukacs used to describe the border of the Roman Empire thusly: "On one side were Latins, and light, and wine.  On the other side were Germans, and darkness, and beer."  You can pretty much still see that border in modern preferences for wine and beer.  In Roman times, of course, vineyards prospered much farther north ("The Roman Climatic Optimum") and again during the medieval Optimum than they do in today's chilly times. 


But if you look closely at Western Poland, you can also see where wodka gives way to beer and... it's the old German border from pre-WW1: East Prussia and Silesia!  Except for the irruption of beer-swigging Slavs into the western Balkans and of Saxons into England, the wine-bibbing region is still basically the old Roman Empire.  Note beer-swigging Transylvania between the upper and lower jaws of wine-bibbing Romania. 

Beer drinking is the cereal belt of Europe.  North and east of there, grains don't grow as well, and distilled spirits like vodka become the tipple of choice.  The Ukraine ought to drink more beer, though.

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