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Social Studies Summer Reading

AP European History

Over the summer you will be responsible for the following assignments; these are due the first week of school.
These books need to be purchased or borrowed from the library. 

Mr. Kaeser

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle

If you need to reach me over the summer: hailkaeser@yahoo.com

  • Western Heritage Packet:  Ch 9 – Late Middle Ages. & Primary Sources.  The take home test goes with this and is expected to be completed by the first day of class. – 100 points
  • Tom Standage, A History of the World in Six Glasses

A History of the World in Six Glasses is a fairly new book by Tom Standage, the Technology Editor for The Economist, one of the world’s most highly respected magazines. The book is very well regarded by many of the nation’s AP Euro teachers. As other teachers issue a disclaimer with this commonly used set of questions, I will do the same, and I quote: “The choice of this book as a summer reading assignment is no way represents any attempt by this teacher or this school to promote the use/misuse of any of these beverages, alcoholic, caffeinated or otherwise. This book merely offers a unique and interesting way of viewing the normally dry subject of economic history.” In other words, take this book for what it is: a good look at the role of commodities in shaping the past. It’s an interesting set of stories, and such a reading exposes you to economic and social themes that are part of what this course is all about.

 Your Assignment: - worth 100 points

1. Read the following sections: “Introduction”; “Spirits”; “Coffee”; “Tea”; “Coca-Cola”; and “Epilogue.” You’re welcome to read the sections on beer and wine, but they’re well before the course’s scope of history, so I haven’t required them. As you’re no doubt aware, there is no harm in reading more than is required!

2. Type out each question and answer it fully and completely.  If you feel the need to quote a sentence make sure you give reference to page number.


1. From which advanced civilization/culture did Europeans get the “science” of how to make spirits?

2. In what ways was the “discovery” and use of distillation important to the rebirth of science in Europe? How was distillation perceived, and which infant science did it go hand in hand with, thus probably leading to further work and discovery? Also look at what sorts of texts had to be translated and what that might have led to.

3. How did spirits advance or accelerate colonialism?

4. In the 18th century, how did spirits help Britain have a more superior navy than France?

5. How did spirits help build America? Consider the establishment of independence and consolidation of federal power.

6. What were the negative effects/uses of spirits? Use the entire chapter to answer this.


1. Who did the Europeans get coffee from and how did it spread to Europe?

2. Why was it so important to Europe’s development that many people’s beverage of choice switched from alcohol to coffee?

3. Describe coffee’s effect on the global balance of power in terms of commerce.

4. How did coffee play a pivotal role in the scientific revolution? Give lots of detail here.

5. How did coffee play a pivotal role in what is known as the “financial revolution”?

6. How did coffee play a pivotal role in the French Revolution? Give lots of detail and be sure to delve into the Enlightenment.


1. If the sun never set on the British Empire, then it was always WHAT somewhere?

2. What were the health benefits of tea? How would this beverage help human development?

3. Which conquering people established the largest connected land empire in history?

4. When Europeans first reached China, describe the relationship between the groups. Reflect on the balance of trade, how their civilizations compared, etc.

5. The consumption of tea skyrocketed in England during which century?

6. What rights and powers did the British East India Company acquire—thanks in part to its gifts of tea to the king—that made it the most powerful corporation ever?

7. Describe tea’s impact on industry and commerce inside Britain.

8. Describe the Opium Wars, its impact, and tea’s role in the wars.

9. Describe how tea changed history in America, China and India. Give LOTS of information here.


1. What was so special about the American production method?

2. By 1900, what global economic shift had occurred?

3. Describe how Coca-Cola became the world’s most recognized product.

4. How did Coca-Cola become basically seen as an American value? How did this help and hurt Coca-Cola—and, in some ways, America itself?


1. Describe how the scientific advancements of the 19th century brought the history of beverages full circle.

2. Which water’s quality is more tightly controlled - tap or bottled? What does this mean? What does this suggest about modern society