Majority of works of the book the true history of chocolate was done by Sophie Coe who was later diagnosed with cancer and died before finishing the book. Her husband, Michael Coe took over from the thousands of pages written by her wife and completed writing the last bit in six months. Unlike other books, the True history of chocolate is a reflection of true devotion. It begins by giving the reader a detailed account of how the Mesoamericans used chocolate and ends by giving the story of chocolate after the popular industrial revolution (Sophie and Michael 12). The book has a broad scope with numerous literary quotes about chocolate.
The book is more academic than informal with plenty of photos both black and white, engravings, and color images dotted throughout. It interestingly narrates how Europe and the new world trade, used, and drankchocolate as well as how it interacted with the culture. It is a lengthy history that spreads into many centuries. There is a guarantee that while reading this book, you must learn a new aspect no matter how much you are conversant with chocolate(Sophie and Michael 49). It tells how the post-classic, Aztecs took cool chocolate instead of hot like their Maya counterparts. Furthermore, the author tells about the strong and symbolic associations that existed between human blood and chocolate among Maya and Aztecs. The Spanish believed that death was the usual penalty for drunkenness and this led to increased consumption of chocolate as a substitute.
As a product of anthropologists, the book places much emphasis on the significance and cultural uses of chocolate in commerce, rituals, and in the daily life for both the commoners and the elite. It also discusses at length the false etymologies of the term chocolate. The most interesting one is the Quiche Maya word, Chokala’j which means drinking chocolate together. Historians love the book because it narrates the interaction between power relations and the economic factors in Mesoamerica in a fascinating way. Anthropologists too find ample information of how cultures were modified and shaped by the growing value of cacao plant. Food scientists also find extensive descriptions of the production of chocolate right from growth, refinement and finally to delivery (Sophie and Michael 131). Since Sophie had wide background on anthropology while Michael was well versed with pre-Colombian civilization, the result was a thought provoking, superb, charming, engrossing and informative chronicle of chocolate and how its development transformed the lives of different cultures across the world.
The true story of chocolate allows the reader to know more than just how to make chocolate or the origin of chocolate. It vividly narrates the history of cacao as well as how chocolate was made and developed for many centuries(Sophie and Michael 203). However, it has one major weakness; the authors are interested more in teaching instead of telling the readers a good mouthwatering story of numerous discoveries from glamorous travels across the world. It is most ideal for those seeking to have a better understanding of chocolate knowledge as opposed to those looking for a good story to read. Furthermore, there are sections where the text looks awkward and even its conclusion is based on a limited evidence. Critics of the book argue that the book lacks in analysis and interpretation. The authorsin many instances demonstrated lack of the basics of argument and interpretation which are crucial especially when telling about pre-written societies.
Coe, Sophie D, and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Print.