What We Are Reading Today: Swindled

Updated 04 December 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Swindled

Author: Bee Wilson

Bad food has a history. Swindled tells it. Through a fascinating mixture of cultural and scientific history, food politics, and culinary detective work, Bee Wilson uncovers the many ways swindlers have cheapened, falsified, and even poisoned our food throughout history.
In the hands of people and corporations who have prized profits above the health of consumers, food and drink have been tampered with – in often horrifying ways — padded, diluted, contaminated, substituted, mislabeled, misnamed, or otherwise faked. Swindled gives a panoramic view of this history, from the leaded wine of the ancient Romans to today’s food frauds — such as fake organics and the scandal of Chinese babies being fed bogus milk powder.
Wilson pays special attention to 19th- and 20h-century America and England and their roles in developing both industrial-scale food adulteration and the scientific ability to combat it.
As Swindled reveals, modern science has both helped and hindered food fraudsters.
— increasing the sophistication of scams but also the means to detect them. The big breakthrough came in Victorian England when a scientist first put food under the microscope and found that much of what was sold as “genuine coffee” was anything but — and that you could not buy pure mustard in all of London.


What We Are Reading Today: Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

Updated 23 May 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

  • The author also shows how Franklin helped to create the American character

Benjamin Franklin is the Founding Father of the US who rose up the social ladder, from a leather-aproned shopkeeper to dining with kings. In bestselling author Walter Isaacson’s vivid and witty full-scale biography, we discover why Franklin seems to turn to us from history’s stage with eyes that twinkle from behind his new-fangled spectacles, says a review published on goodreads.com.

By bringing Franklin to life, Isaacson shows how he helped to define both his own time and ours. 

He was, during his 84-year life, America’s best scientist, inventor, diplomat, writer, and business strategist, and he was also one of its most practical—though not most profound—political thinkers. 

In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin’s amazing life, from his days as a runaway printer to his triumphs as a statesman, scientist, and Founding Father. 

The author also shows how Franklin helped to create the American character and why he has a particular resonance in the 21st century.