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Open Access The bromides of gods, the passions of humans

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The bromides of gods, the passions of humans

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image of New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids

[First paragraph]Histoire du chocolat. NlKlTA HARWICH. Paris: Desjonquères, 1992. 292 pp. (Paper, n.p.)The Chocolate Tree: A Natural History of Cacao. ALLEN M. YOUNG. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994. xv + 200 pp. (Cloth US$ 24.95)A recent hurried look at some bookstore shelves on the Boulevard St. Michel was enough to convince this reviewer that French publishing has been infected with wild enthusiasm for the history of substances. This may reflect some older vogue; in France as elsewhere, fashions come and go. But today's trend is entirely separate from the Braudel era, from those preoccupations with the material world and the social struggles it embodies, which Braudel himself had sedulously popularized. Instead there is a concern with substances, especially edibles, and how good they are: a fascination with sensation that is not at all surprising at this historical juncture.

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