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Guinness isn't just good for you—it's been good for the whole world for the past 250 years
Here's what you know about Guiness
It's one of the most successful brands of beer in the world and has been for the last two and a half centuries. Celebrated through some of the most creative and effective advertising campaigns in history. Guiness is brewed at one of the largest ...
Guinness isn't just good for you—it's been good for the whole world for the past 250 years
Here's what you know about Guiness
It's one of the most successful brands of beer in the world and has been for the last two and a half centuries. Celebrated through some of the most creative and effective advertising campaigns in history. Guiness is brewed at one of the largest breweries on earth and consumed at a rate or more than 10 million pints every day.
Here's what you don't know
Beyond the company's financial success, Guinness has also been a remarkable and inspiring force for social good, whose impact was felt from the company's earliest days down to the present.
In this fascinating book, New York Times best-selling author Stephen Mansfield stirs together several strains of the Guiness legacy—beer, family, philantrophy, and vibrant and active faith concerned with lifting the helpless and downtrodden.
Mansfield tells the story of brewery founder Arthur Guinness and traces the family tree to his heirs who built housing for the poor, restored some of the great institutions of faith in Ireland, and who even ensured that soldiers had pints of brew on the battlefields of the world's great wars.
"I knew I had found it: that earthy, human, holy tale of a people honing a craft over time and of a family seeking to do good in the world as an offering to God," says Mansfield. It was "a story thick line the smell of barley at the St. James Gate brewery and as filled with the biter and the sweet as any generational tale is likely to be."
In an age of corporation irresponsibility and corruption, the Guinness story is a challenge to our times and an inspiration to our hearts.
It was William Shakespeare who wrote "what's past is prologue," and I have always believed this is true, but you would never have known it from the history classes I was required to take in school. They seemed prologue to nothing. They had little connection to anything that was to come, anything that might be relevant to the meaning of real life. It was the "Age of This" and the "Era of That." It was dates and dead people, all of it mind-numbingly boring.
What makes all of those hours in history class worse in retrospect is how much I came to love history later. Like millions of other people in the world, if the surveys are true, I became enthralled with the past as an adult in a way I never could have with the dusty classroom version. History not only contained thrilling adventure from ages gone by, but also an explanation of my times and wisdom for life.
So when I went in search of the Guinness story, I took Shakespeare's maxim to heart and probed the history of beer prior to the beginning of Guinness in order to understand the world-and more specifically the world of beer-out of which the tale of Guinness grew. I have to tell you I wasstunned. I have a doctorate in history and I have spent years studying the past in preparation for lectures and writing books, but never had I come across the huge role that beer has played through the centuries. So when I began searching for the story of beer in history, I was amazed to find not just a quiet little theme on the back lot of mainstream history, but a story that is woven through the great literature, civilizations, and movements of the human story.
Let me give you a small example of what I mean. Almost all of us are familiar with the story of the Pilgrims. Every Thanksgiving Americans at least allude to these forefathers and their Mayflower story and, certainly, it is a tale that holds a fascination all its own. But let me retell a portion of it here with a few completely accurate details added that you likely have not heard. You'll see what I mean when I say beer adds an interesting element to the retelling of the past, that it makes some of the great adventures of old even more endearing and unforgettable.
It was the foul New England winter of 1621 and the small band of Englishmen we call the Pilgrims were carving out a life on the barrens of Cape Cod. That they were alive at all was a miracle. Only months before, they had sailed for sixty-six days across a wild Atlantic Ocean that had tossed them about for weeks at a time. There had been deaths and days on end when they were locked in the 'tween deck for safety with screaming and crying and every kind of human waste floating in the bilge at their feet.
Now that they had put ashore, having signed the covenant declaring they ventured "for the Glory of God and the advancement of the Christian faith," their desperate situation was obvious to all. As their future governor, William Bradford, later wrote, "Being thus passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation, they had now no friends to welcome them nor inns to entertain or refresh their weatherbeaten bodies; no houses or much less towns to repair to, to seek for succour." They were alone on the edge of a wilderness, trying to complete their "errand into the wilderness" for God.
So in March of 1621, in this howling, frozen place, they worked to build their shelters against the cold. And they stood guard, for they had noticed the natives who watched at a distance. The Pilgrims had tried to approach them once, but this only frightened the nervous brown men away. The Pilgrims worked with muskets nearby, then, wary of the strange-looking men who gazed at them from the edge of the trees.
On March 16, a mercifully warmer day than in recent months, this standoff came to an end. Suddenly, a tall, muscular native strode out from the trees and began to approach. The Pilgrims quickly took their muskets in hand. They were startled, for the man coming toward them was an unsettling sight. He was nearly naked-"stark naked," they later said-with only a strand of leather about his waist and fringe about as wide as a man's hand covering his private parts. He carried a bow and two arrows and the Pilgrims noticed that his hair was long in the back but shaved at the front of his head. They had seen nothing like this back in England.
As startling as this Indian was to the Pilgrims, it was what happened next that shocked them most of all. The man neared, paused, and then shouted "Welcome!" in clear, perfect English. And then, more astonishing still, he asked-again, flawlessly in the Pilgrims' own tongue-if they had some beer.
This is the truth, and you likely didn't know it because it is rarely mentioned in the textbooks or in the Thanksgiving specials on TV. It is right there, though, in Mourt's Relation and Of Plymouth Plantation, the two primary sources we have for the Pilgrim story. You see, this native's name was Samoset and as he told his story the Pilgrims learned that he had mastered their language while traveling with English ships up and down the coast of New England. He had grown fond of the Englishmen, had become accustomed to their ways, and had apparently developed a taste for English beer. Thus it was that Samoset and his quiet companion, Squanto, became part of the magnificent adventure these Pilgrims were destined to live.
And beer continued to play a defining role in the Pilgrim story. Consider, for example, how the Pilgrims came to decide to finally put ashore and start building their historic settlement.
When they first left the shores of England, the passengers of the Mayflower had plenty of beer for their voyage on board. This valuable supply was tended by the famous John Alden, hero of the Longfellow tale. But by the time they reached New England, their stores of beer were running desperately low. They saw this as threatening disaster. Beer for them was more than just an enjoyable drink. They not only believed that it had important medicinal qualities that they would need in the New World, but they, like most of the people of their time, drank beer for fear of drinking water. Since the teeming cities of Europe often polluted the nearby rivers and streams, deaths from drinking of these waters were not unknown, and seventeenth-century Europeans came to believe that most all water was unsafe. Beer, though, was seen as healthy and pure. We now know what people of that time did not: the boiling, which is part of brewing beer, and the alcohol that results kills the germs that sometimes contaminate water.
It was fear of running out of beer, then, that partially forced the Pilgrims to leave the Mayflower and get busy building their new lives on shore. They had reached the New World in late November but had spent nearly a month looking for a good site on which to build. As William Bradford later wrote of those nervous, searching days, "We had yet some beer, butter, flesh and other victuals left, which would quickly be all gone and then we should have nothing to comfort us." Finally, just when their supplies had nearly run out, they thought they spied some good land for a settlement. Of this Bradford wrote, "So in the morning, after we had called on God for direction, we came to this resolution-to go presently ashore again and to take a better view of two places which we thought most fitting for us; for we could not now take much time for further search or consideration, our victuals being much spent, especially our beer." Thus was Plymouth, Massachusetts, founded.
It is testimony to the importance of beer in their story that the brewery was the first permanent building the Pilgrims constructed. As Gregg Smith has written in his excellent history of beer, "Their critical shortage made a brewhouse a priority among the structures built that first winter in Plymouth. Even if the Pilgrims' supply weren't scarce, the need for a brewery was immediate. The population of the small colony expanded faster than ale could be shipped from Europe. And of all the hardships the settlers endured, the lack of beer caused them the most displeasure."
To prevent a similar experience, when the Puritans sailed to New England a decade later in 1630, they made sure that beer was in plentiful supply. Just one of their five ships, the Arbella, carried 42 tuns of beer. Since a tun was 252 gallons, this meant that at least 10,000 gallons of beer refreshed the Puritans on their journey to the New World. And, again, a brewhouse proved a priority when they began building their new city called Boston.
Now, my point in all of this is not that beer captures everything that is important in the Pilgrim adventure or in the later Puritan settlement in the New World. Of course not. But it was there, nonetheless-beloved and needed by the people of that day, and it was such a priority that it shaped many of the decisions that these forefathers made. In other words, it was often a motive force, a reason that people did what they did, and not just because it gave pleasure but also because it was a source of the health and the nourishment and the purity that our ancestors needed at the time.
This is very much as it was all throughout human history. Beer helped to shape entire civilizations and often conditioned the critical decisions they made. In fact, if one professor is correct, beer may have been the reason man became civilized in the first place. So let's take a moment to correct the grand omission of beer from the story of the past, and consider for a while the role beer has had to play. This bit of beer heritage will prepare us well for exploring the later glories of Guinness.
* * *
Though you might not suspect it if you walk through the gleaming stainless steel canyons of a modern brewery, the brewing of beer can be a relatively simple affair. A grain, usually barley, is wetted to allow it to germinate or, more simply, to sprout. When it does, it is quickly dried. It has thus been malted. This malted barley is then roasted. How long it is roasted will determine the color of the beer it produces, a process that is obviously important in brewing a roasted barley in the guinness storehouse dark beer like Guinness. This malt is mashed, which means that it is soaked long enough in water to allow the process that converts the natural starches of the malt into the sugars that are necessary for fermentation. More water is then added to this mash, essentially to wash the sugars off of the grains and into a thick, sweet liquid called wort. This wort is boiled, and afterward the dried flowers from the hops vines are usually added for flavor, though throughout history the flavor of beer has been enhanced by nearly every kind of fruit, spice, or honey known to man.
After this hopped wort is cooled, yeast is added. A brewer once told me that he thinks of yeast as a bunch of frat boys invading the party of brewing. They rush into the mix and spend their time eating, passing gas, and reproducing. What come of this is the alcohol and carbon dioxide make that sweet, hop-tasting water called wort into beer.
This is the way beer is made and knowing this helps us to imagine how beer came about in those first uncertain ages of human history. The truth is it was probably a wonderful accident, but to understand how this might be so, we have to know a little bit about the beginnings of mankind.
Our first ancestors, the men and women who existed at the very dawn of time, probably lived in the Fertile Crescent region of the world, an arch of land that stretches from modern Egypt up the Mediterranean coast and after touching the southeast corner of Turkey drops down again through the border between Iraq and Iran. The region is aptly named, for particularly in early history its soil was luxuriant and rich, its vast, fruitful regions teeming with game. It was an ideal environment for nearly every kind of life-and particularly for dense strands of wild wheat and barley.
If the theories of historians are right-and God knows, they often aren't-the region was at first home to roving bands of hunter-gatherers who would have hunted the abundant wild game and gathered the edible cereal grains that grew so profusely. Over time, these nomadic men would have learned how to bake these widely available grains into bread and this, we are told, led almost directly to the discovery of beer.
Again, this discovery probably happened in a series of accidents. Early men would have learned not only how to harvest barley but also how to create earthen jars to store it. It is not hard to imagine that at some point someone might have left this stored barley exposed to rain. Of course, soaking barley starts the malting process. We can picture our disgusted early ancestor-let's call her Nonna-waking up to the soaked mess that once was the proud product of her hours of backbreaking work. She would have decided to do something to rescue this valuable grain. Being boldly experimental and desperately frugal, Nonna tried to dry the grain by spreading it out under the sun. Malted barley would have been the result. Then, when Nonna baked this barley into bread, her family might have commented that the bread was much sweeter than anything she had served before.
Now, if Nonna's crudely malted barley, wetted by the rain and dried under the sun, was exposed to the rain again, the result would have been very much like wort: the natural starches of malt being converted to sugar and dissolved in water. Then, when Nonna left her jars of this sweet grainy mixture open, natural airborne yeast would have begun its work, and in time Nonna's jars would have been filled with a foamy, bubbly substance. She would have tasted it, shared it with her friends, and eventually all would have agreed that this tasty, lightly intoxicating liquid had to be made again. Curiosity, experimentation, and pleasure would have played a role through the centuries and this would have eventually given us some time-honored methods for brewing a primitive beer.
There is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania named Solomon Katz who believes that not only did beer evolve in exactly this way, but that the discovery of beer may have been why early man stopped his hunter-gatherer ways and began to build cities. "My argument," Dr. Katz has said, "is that the initial discovery of a stable way to produce alcohol provided enormous motivation for continuing to go out and collect these seeds and try to get them to do better." He means that rather than early men relying on wild stands of barley to make brew, they would have begun growing the barley themselves in hopes of producing a better yield. And this attachment to their fields of barley would have caused them to settle in one place, to begin living in larger communities, and to eventually evolving the cities from which civilization gets its name. The word civilization literally means "living in cities." Thus, Dr. Katz believes that beer may have been a primary reason man moved from the wild into cities and began building the great civilizations of the ancient world.
He is not the first. The ancient Sumerians would have agreed with Dr. Katz. In Sumer, the region at the head of the Persian Gulf where human history began (largely because writing emerged there around 3400 BC), this connection between beer and civilization was not a theory but a celebrated certainty. In fact, this role of beer in the making of civilization was put into poetic form in the world's first great literary work, known today as The Epic of Gilgamesh. Now, like me, you probably remember something about this from school, but we certainly don't recall that it had anything to do with beer. Apparently, though, it did. It seems that Gilgamesh was a Sumerian king who ruled around 2700 BC and whose life inspired myriad myths, beloved not only by the Sumerians but also by the Akkadians and the Babylonians. The Epic is the tale of Gilgamesh's adventures with his friend Enkidu, a wild man who, not unlike mankind itself, begins life running naked in the wilderness. In time, he is taught the ways of civilization by a young woman who takes him to a shepherds' village so he can learn the first stages of civilized life.
Excerpted from THE SEARCH FOR GOD AND GUINNESS by STEPHEN MANSFIELD Copyright © 2009 by Stephen Mansfield. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Some Guinness Facts
1 Before There Was Guinness 1
2 The Rise of Arthur 35
3 At the Same Place By Their Ancestors 75
4 The Good That Wealth Can Do 121
5 The Guinnesses for God 155
6 Twentieth-Century Guinness 203
Epilogue: The Guinness Way 251
About the Author 271\
Posted June 12, 2010
"Beer has a noble history and... the great saints of old, loved it, drank it, wrote about it and celebrated it to the glory of God." The Search for God and Guinness is the true story of the beer that changed the world through a family that used their wealth and influence to help millions. New York Times best-selling author, Steven Mansfield, takes the reader through the chronology of beer, documenting its origins and role in early Christianity, and of the Guinness family influence on the people of Dublin. The Guinness legacy is a shining example of what it means to find one's purpose and to strive for excellence for the glory of God. If you're interested in beer, Christianity, business, management, or history, The Search for God and Guinness is for you. In the vein of Guinness advertising: Guinness is Good for You!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 1, 2010
Beer and the Bible have been controversial companions on American shores for some time. Having moved here from the UK, and having often shared theological discourse with the vicar over a pint at our local pub, I never could quite connect with the concept that Christian's should not drink alcohol. I've come to see that Prohibition was the major change in thinking, and that generations on we are still feeling the impact of a dry nation.
Mansfield has set out to provide us with a history of the Guinness family, their empire and legacy, and along the way has created much more. For my money, the opening chapter on the history of beer pre-Guinness is worth the price of admission alone (though may it be noted this is a review for Thomas Nelson's BookSneeze.com program, and so I received my copy at no cost to me). To see how beer was championed as the healthy choice, the cure to the ailments of hard liquor, and to see the church being the chief brewers and distributors - now that's a story worth telling!
But even more so, the story of Arthur Guinness & Sons is a fine remedy to the concept that ministry is something done exclusively by clergymen. The most impressive factor in Mansfield's work is the vision with which he presents the Guinness story - it is the tale of a man following God to do what He has called him to: brew good beer, and impact his employees and city by being a good steward. Here is a rare life, writ large, to show us that faith is not to be separated from endeavor; that our endeavors are not merely informed by faith but that faith breathes life into the work itself.
The writing is easy but full-bodied, much like the beer it addresses, and though there are some sections that are a little too heavy on the historical data for my liking, the stories of assorted people and their part in the history of this grand ol' brewery cause a cheer to well up within the reader and a strong desire to raise a glass of the dark stout in celebration of a man who changed the course of history for his city by pursuing a God given passion with integrity and determination. May we learn the lesson well!
Posted February 20, 2010
Stephen Mansfield serves up a delicious, frothy, and engaging account of the history of the Guinness family, and how they intertwined faith and beer. By this account, the Guinness family took more pride in the faith, and sense of duty to their workers that was passed down from generation to generation than the recipe for their world famous stout porter. Mansfield takes the reader through an in depth history of the Guinness Company, and how they used their social standing, influence, and wealth to better their company, as well as the lives of every one of their employees. Mansfield takes painstakingly careful detail to account for the ways the Guinness family bettered the lives of their workers, from basic hygiene to academic, and homemaking classes for the wives of employees. In a time where so many corporations have failed both in terms of making a profit, and caring for their employees, its nice to read a story of a company that has flourished in both regards for the past 250 years. In honor of Mansfield's thorough account, I raise my glass, and say cheers! I recommend you pick up a copy of this book and read it for yourself.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 3, 2010
I didn't know. Seriously. I bought a sweatshirt at a harp festival. It was oversized and warm and had harps on it. I tried to find out what a Guinness harp was. No luck.
I wore the shirt everywhere. My daughter asked me why I was advertising beer.
And then I heard of this book--The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield.
God and beer? And harps? Of course, I had to read it, even though I don't much care for beer.
In the mid-1700s Arthur Guinness "walked the streets of Dublin pleading with God to do something about the drunkenness on the streets of Ireland."
He believed he heard God speak, "Make a drink that men will drink that will be good for them."
This is a deeply researched book and far from a fast read, but I learned much--such as the history of beer in general and Guinness stout in particular. I learned about health aspects of beer and that "beer, well respected and rightly consumed can be a gift of God." The book transported me back into Irish history, including into the middle of the potato famine devastation.
I learned how a company reached out to the working poor, the sick, the helpless, and the hopeless. Employee benefits during the 1920s were unparalleled. Companies of today should take note.
I also discovered a family of deep faith and strong bonds, a family who came together in good times and in bad. I learned that Luther, Calvin, Edwards, and the Wesleys had what some might consider surprising attitudes toward alcohol. And I learned that Henry Grattan Guinness, Arthur's grandson, has been called the Billy Graham of the nineteenth century. And that Hudson Taylor was also a "part of the Guinness story."
If you love beer, Ireland, history, the poor, the sick, you'll love this book. If you love God, you'll love this book. And if you don't, you might after you read it.
And now I'm content that when I wear my sweatshirt, I'm not just advertising beer. I'm also advertising God.
NOTE: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Posted February 3, 2010
The title of the book was the first surprise. God and Guinness (Beer), Other than the fact that they both start with the same alphabet, there can't be two more uncommon words. After reading the title once again to confirm, I told myself, 'It must be a marketing gimmick to make us buy the book.'
But Author Stephen Mansfield makes a great impression in the prologue itself justifying the title. Introduction gives more clarity on why God and Guinness are together not only in the title, but throughout this fantastic book.
Typically Business biographies follow a format. Lot of focus on early days, struggles of founders, then one or more dramatic turning point(s), growth, challenges, money it brought, competition, how they managed to stay ahead and finally, IPO, riches it brought to the well deserving founders and early employees, how it changed hands and still managed to continue its legacy and that's it.
That standard formula is not followed in this book, because it tells a human story, Of Arthur Guinness and his family. When we talk about Guinness, we only think about the Beer, but this book focuses on the people behind the screens, their intentions, faith, how they spent their well earned money and so on. This well-written book is superbly illustrated too, with a right mix of content as well as tidbits, trivia and much more. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it strongly.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Posted December 18, 2009
Disclaimer: For those who are offended by the idea of a book written how beer and the religion of Christianity may have relationship with each other, you are invited to read my review, but remember that this is a review.not an endorsement. With that said.my review!
As the son of two parents whose conversion stories included a turning from unbiblical standards of being "intoxicated", I was taught that beer had nothing to do with God. For years, I believed that the only type of people who touched beer were non-christians.
I think it can be safe to say that life has taught me otherwise. There has been much debate on the issue of consumption of alcohol and being a follower of Christ. These debates are not just among the "common people", but even among those many would consider theologians or religious and biblical scholars. History has proven to us that even respected church fathers have been recorded to have many a conversation over a beer. That beer was most often made by Guinness.
The book, The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield, arrived at my home a little over 2 months ago from Thomas Nelson. As a person who loves the study of history, I was very curious to see if this truly was a "biography of the beed that changed the world" as the book promoted itself to be, or if it was just another person trying to prove that it's ok to drink beer and be a Christian. Was this going to be a book of historical facts, or a collection of opinions?
My observation was that this was definitely a book of facts.
This may be the reason it took me so long to finish. Intriguing as the information was, it did carry on at times like a text book. None-the-less, there were many great things about this book. Why was that?
Because this book not only told the history of Guinness, but it explored how the Guinness family's faith shaped how influenced the world around them. If anything, it showed how a family could be ministers in their community without actually being ministers by profession. Though many of the Guinness family did chose vocational ministry over working at the brew house, the business of the Guinness brewery was always a motivator and empowering of benevolence.
Even though the current face of the Guinness company no longer looks like its humble and Christian beginnings (much like the many prestigious universities of the United States), a study of it's history is one that portrays what a business that is lead by a follower of Christ can look like.
If you're looking for more ideas on how to live "Your Best Life Now".keep moving.
Or, if you're looking for this book to replace a thorough personal study of God's Word on the consumption of alcoholic beverages, then you're going to be very dissapointed.
If you're a history buff who wants to see what Christianity in the "marketplace" looks like.pick this up.
Posted November 30, 2009
While this book was highly informative from a historical standpoint, it was largely lacking on the "God" part. Let me explain:
I learned more about beer's history, how it was made, and how it shaped culture than I had ever known. I didn't realize just how influential beer has been on the history of man. I had no idea how closely beer and Christianity were tied. I learned about the history of Guinness and the life of it's founder, Arthur Guinness. While all of this was mildly intriguing, it got boring about half way through.
I guess I expected to learn, AND to grow in reading this book. Unfortunately it's all pretty much knowledge. The title lead me to believe that we were going to go after God. That there might be some level of spirituality involved.
While the heart of Arthur Guinness is depicted as that of an awesome believer who's faith lead him to bless the lives of everyone else around him, the "search for God" part was far from personally applicable, in my humble opinion.
This book should have had a more relevant title. If you're a history buff, you'll love it!! If you're actually "searching for God", look elsewhere!
Posted November 26, 2009
I have to say, this was a very hard read for me. It literally was a book that made me want to sleep. It has taken me over a MONTH to finish it, which is huge because I'm not only a very fast reader, but I can pretty much get through anything (except Anna Karenina...I still can't get page 5- my head basically wants to explode).
The first part of the book is a very lengthy, almost way too much detail for my pee brain to absorb about the history of beer. Where it originated (maybe), how it was made (we think), and the wonderful journey it's been on since. It connects beer with God and speaks of how different religions viewed beer.
Then it moves onto (finally) Arthur Guinness and his quest of making an even better brew, something that was better for you. The most interesting part of the entire thing was how Arthur literally built a business by being smart and savvy yet being an absolute gentleman to his workers and the community around him. He provided a great social service to Ireland which continues today in the Guinness world. The things he did and provided for his staff and their families was amazing and is ironic because in America, you are LUCKY if you get sub-prime health care coverage. It really shows that it is possible to provide generous wages and benefits to employees AND make a profit. Consumers are willing to support companies that support their staff- it's just too bad that more companies aren't that way.
So I would recommend this book if you like beer, are interested in companies who changed a social and economical climate of an area and a person who genuinely strived to do more and be better. On the other hand, if you aren't a history person (like me) you may be bored to death. But I assure you- you will survive. And might learn something.
Posted November 23, 2009
3 out of 5 UKpints
In The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World,
Stephen Mansfield writes an engrossing historical account of the faith of the family behind the famous dark stout. The book starts with beer basics. How beer happens, how it is brewed as well as a historical background of beer in Ireland and in the Church.
Then to the Guinnesses. Arthur Guinness wanted to provide an alternative to the non-potable water and the extremely intoxicating gin that pervaded the time. Using a family recipe for homebrew(ed beer, not whiskey), personal charisma and a vision for the future, Guinness plants the seed of a cultural icon.
This book does not follow the boardroom, nor the brewery. Instead, Mansfield wants the reader to watch the men at the head of the company. Their policies and politics, their membership and involvement in branches of the church, their social activities and the way they used their wealth.
And Mansfield paints a convincing picture of a family leading a company without abandoning their founding principles.
What didn't work
There are a few reasons this book didn't get all of the available pints (other than that its absorbency was called into question). One: while entertaining and informative, the narrative was sequential, but not cohesive. And that's probably my preference for long, involved, convoluted storylines. It's a fantastic "set down book." Two: the pictures. While most pictures were placed in proximity to the discussion of their subjects, several seemed out of place with little or no relevance. I mean, yeah, the pictures are cool. But not effective. Three: there seemed to be a lot of glossing or brushing past. That could just be my preference for length (cf One).
What did work
The book is a quick read and informative without being dry, which is hard to do. The tone is conversational without being overly familiar. And it really is a great "set down book," one you can read in waiting rooms or keep on your bedside table without having to worry about being kept up all night.
Great gift for the Irishman or woman in your family, the stout fan or the beef stew cook who wants to know a casual bit about his secret ingredient.
Posted November 12, 2009
I must start by confessing that this book was not what I anticipated it would be based on the title. I think I was hoping for deep theological truths comparing the water, barley and hops to the Trinity- and the subsequent "shall thirst no more" applications for my life. Stephen Mansfield has not broken any new theological ground in this book- nor did he intend to. What he did do- and very well- was convey the story of a family whose heritage is one of a good product (some would argue the "best") being sold by a good company by means of genuinely good business practices. It is those practices that are really the theme and lesson of this book.
What company founder Arthur and subsequent Guinness's understood was that successful business is built on honoring and valuing your people. "If you're not willing to make money for people, you shouldn't try to make money from people" is a very simple, yet poignant motto that Arthur understood. What the Guinness families did for their employees, and ultimately, their city and country went well beyond simple philanthropy, however. They were interested in the well being of the entire man- physical, spiritual, mental. The programs offered- libraries, schools, housing, on-site, fully subsidized health care for employees and families, recreational spaces and activities, the first Sunday School in Ireland- the list goes on- were in most cases the first of their kind.
After a couple hundred pages of stories of the Guinness's getting it right (and a few about them getting it wrong) the real story emerges. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with Arthur Guinness. In my opinion, the real story is the glaringly obvious contrast to the headlines today that tell a very different story of corporate culture and use of wealth. In an age of Enrons, Wall St. bail-outs and ponzi-scheme heads retiring to state funded "correctional facilities", the story of a family that understood the responsibility of wealth was alternately refreshing and discouraging. The sense of something greater than self can't really be taught, but it's certainly a lesson we all need to hear these days. (Raising my pint) Here's to more of these lessons being lived in front of us today.
I review books for the Thomas Nelson book review program.
Posted November 10, 2009
Some Christians might wonder how The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World by Stephen Mansfield fits in with Christian literature. Truth is, it's much more than a beer story. It is a delightful history book plunging us back to Ireland in the late 1700s and showing us how one family changed the destiny of many.
While leading us step-by-step into the development of Guinness beer-a beverage discovered haphazardly and which provided a safe and healthy alternative to high-alcohol drinks and toxic waters-the author highlights the prolific achievements of the Guinness family.
The Guinness family affected every realm of society, partly because of their diverse career choices (brewers, bankers, preachers and politicians), but mostly because of their generosity. The family brewery business provided more than a healthful drink which would quickly became world-renowned: it also served as a springboard for numerous philanthropic undertakings.
The Guinnesses took great care of their workers-raising their standard of living considerably. And they also took care of the poor.
In spite of a few Guinnesses whose poor choices disgraced the family name, the family left a legacy of noble benevolence. And a healthful drink.
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Janey L. DeMeo
Copyright © November 2009
Posted November 3, 2009
"The Search for God and Guinness" by Stephen Mansfield is the story of the Guinness family and how the family and those associated with the organization used their wealth and influence to advance the cause of social justice in Ireland. Mansfield is a well-known biographer who has tackled Presidents Bush and Obama as well as Winston Churchill and Booker T. Washington (among others). In this text, he meanders through the story of Arthur Guinness (the founder of the Guinness company) and his offspring, sharing anecdotes and historical facts about the storied family - all while extolling the benefits of a good glass of Guinness stout.
I expected to really enjoy this book and the beginning didn't disappoint. Though its organization is a little confusing (it starts with a sort of history of beer and Guinness in particular, then talks about history, then gets to Arthur after 30+ pages), I did enjoy the stories. I didn't know that beer was often brewed as an alternative to hard liquor, and that everyone was drinking either liquor or beer because the water was contaminated. Fascinating stuff. However, about mid-way through the story seemed to grow weaker and I found less real information to support the idea that the Guinnesses throughout time were great God-fearing people, and learned that there were a lot of people in the early years of Guinness who did great things for God, and some of them were Guinnesses, and some just worked there. I'm a biography lover, but ultimately, this book didn't hold my interest after about 150 pages. It was hard work getting through the rest.
If you like biographies and beer, you might enjoy it. I'll still loan it to my beer loving friends, but I can only rate it 2 ½ pints out of 5.
Posted November 2, 2009
Those who don't study history always repeat its errors. "The Search for God and Guinness" by Stephen Mansfield corrects some of the biggest errors in today's culture.
The first issue that the book tackles is whether Christians could consume alcohol. I come from a Southern Baptist background that condemns any use of alcohol. But such a legalistic viewpoint both ignores church history and misinterprets the Bible. Our church fathers enjoyed alcohol in moderation. Monasteries brewed beer. Protestant reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin drank. The first building that the Pilgrims built in America was not a church, but a brewery. The Bible does not condemn drinking, it condemns drunkenness. The Guinness family were both brewers and committed Christians.
But the bigger issue is the book confronts is what people should do with their wealth. The Guinness family used their wealth to help others. They paid their workers a living wage. They offered free health care and pensions. They worked to improve housing and renovate historical buildings, including churches. The founder, Arthur Guinness, started Sunday schools in Ireland.
In an age of greed and selfishness, of corrupt and irresponsible corporations, I pray that the generosity of Guinness would be reborn.
*Disclosure: Thomas Nelson provided a free copy of the book for review.
Posted October 27, 2009
This book explores the history of Guinness and lets us peer into the lives of those who turned the dark brew into an internationally recognized brand. Along the way we meet real people with genuine faith and a deep commitment not only to improve the quality of their product, but to improve their employees' quality of life.
Guinness was far ahead of its time in providing education and health benefits to its workers. They also had a tremendous impact outside of the brewery through social activism and missionary work.
This book caught my attention because God and Guinness struck me as an odd couple. The title might even seem sacrilegious to some. Yet Mansfield reminds us that only a century ago, Christian attitudes towards alcohol (beer in particular) were very different.
If you believe that beer always was and always will be indisputably evil, you may not like this book - but you should read it anyway! Beyond the brewery, this book tells the stories of Christians who lived out their faith in the workplace. They stood up for unpopular social causes. They gave back to their communities. They took care of their workers. And they did it all despite famines and wars, economic downturns and political upheavals. Those are lessons we could all stand to learn.
Posted October 22, 2009
The Search for God and Guinness
A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World
By Stephen Mansfield
The history of Guinness, one of the world's most famous brands, reveals the noble heights and crushing descents of a great family and an innovative business.
It began in Ireland in the late 1700's. The water in Ireland, indeed throughout Europe, was famously undrinkable, and the gin and whiskey that took its place was devastating civil society. It was a disease ridden, starvation plagued, alcoholic age, and Christians like Arthur Guinness-as well as monks and even evangelical churches-brewed beer to offer a healthier alternative to the poisonous waters and liquors of the times. This is where the Guinness tale began. Now, 246 years and 150 countries later, Guinness is a global brand, one of the most consumed beverages in the world. The tale that unfolds during those two and a half centuries has power to thrill audiences today: the generational drama, business adventure, industrial and social reforms, deep-felt faith, and the beer itself.
Since my neighbor came back from a trip to Ireland a couple of years ago, I got into drinking Guinness and enjoying it. Being into God and reading, the title caught my attention. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. Full of historical tidbits and an inside look at a company who treats their employees quite differently than any modern day company. It could have been a result of the times or was it their ingrained faith and duty to mankind. It turns out to be the latter as other members of the family do the social responsibility not being associated with the company.
Great and interesting reading full of great lessons for today Corporations who believe their people are their greatest asset.
This Blog/Review is a result of being a member of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program : http://brb.thomasnelson.com/
I was immediately captured by the simple, but striking, cover. A pint of Guinness, back-lit by a heavenly glow.
It was no coincidence. This book indeed reveals the heavenly glow of the Guinness family.
In the prologue, I was drawn in by Mansfield's account of an encounter where he concisely shared the Guinness family story. He went beyond the history into describing how the Guinnesses went beyond brewing beer to serving their employees, and the community with a Christ-like heart. Further, many became ministers, missionaries, and government leaders that made a significant, Godly, positive difference.
Mansfield approached the book as a historian, using a variety of sources, garnished by anecdotes that season the history lesson with intimate insight and excitement. He provided an excellent foundation including: beer history, economic and political pressures, and interesting (potentially little known) facts.
I did not realize that the 'beer' Guinness and the 'world record' Guinness were the same family!
I would recommend this book, to history lovers and beer drinkers alike. While thorough and well developed, it reads like a good history book more than an exciting epic.
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NOTE: I am a member of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program: http://brb.thomasnelson.com/
Posted October 20, 2009
To rephrase famous saying from the Guinness ad campaign "It's a great day for a book about Guinness.....and God!" A delightful and and delectable read that tells the story of the famous brewing dynasty of the Guinness Family. Not limited to merely their story, we are treated to the historical tales of beer of our forefathers. You won't believe how much beer the Puritans brought in one ship! Combine this with the exemplary faith that is woven throughout this tome it is a must read and is highly recommended.
I particularly appreciated the stories of faith that the Guinness' lived out not only through their worship and service but also their calling in their business. If every business today lived out the corporate philosophy of Arthur Guinness and his heirs the business climate as well as the governmental structure would be vastly different. The Guinness belief was to care for their employees by providing education, healthcare as well as housing and more. We need a Guinness revolution for businesses of today and learn the Guinness Way....cheers to Stephen Mansfield....now I am going to finish my glass.
Posted October 18, 2009
Reading this review reveals you already have some interest in the topic of this book. To ask that you not write this book off too soon would be misguided at best. You are likely as interested as I was when I first saw the title. "God and Guinness? Two of my favorite things? Sign me up!"
Stephen Mansfield begins the book with a dazzling overview through the history of beer, and it does great justice to highlighting what lead to the stringent prohibition that extends into the mindset of so many Christians even today. The mindset came after years of beer seen not only as acceptable but beneficial.
With the first chapter precursor out the way, Mansfield dives into the history of the Guinness brand we all recognize beginning with Arthur Guinness 250 years ago. Revealed in these pages is a family line of brilliant brewers who continually changed the way things were always done. Through countless challenges, the brand would endure with more than, but still including a drive for excellence, innovation, expansion, and mastery.
More important than all these is the silver thread weaving its way throughout. Deep in the heart of its original founder, Arthur, is a heart for their God which would kindle each generation to follow. Mansfield reveals lines of Guinnesses you likely have never seen who were renowned men of faith.
This foundational faith of the Guinness family line necessarily created stories of benevolence, compassion, and social justice, which would be groundbreaking even today. You will find stories of revitalization of whole cities and countries brought about by the Guinness brand and family because they could not avoid the call of their God on their lives.
Mansfield is an able historian, and if you are like me the history will weigh on your attention from time to time. If you have a love for beer or God, you may have to challenge yourself to endure through your own judgments. But if you have a love for both God and beer, this book will leave you craving a world changing conversation with friends over a pint of the saintly stout.
Posted October 17, 2009
It was the title that intrigued me. It was the story that drew me in. It was the history, the passion of one family and the higher calling they felt God had given to them that captured my mind and heart as I read through this story of love, compassion, ambition, generosity, ingenuity and creativity. It is not only the story of one family; it is also a story of one company that has survived incredible circumstances
My knowledge of Guinness was limited to the time I spent working in the hospitality industry. Now in full time ministry, I wanted to truly know how these two apparently different worlds are connected. It is now clear to me how our American culture has created this conflict in me, and in the Christian community. Our American history and much of our early church history included this "healthy and pure" beverage
While, the book in some places is choppy and does not seem to flow well, the author takes you back in time when everyone not only drank beer, they brewed it as well. It was not for the sheer pleasure of the drink, but it was also a healthier, safer beverage to consume as the water had the potential to be contaminated or poisoned. Beer was and still is regarded as "a gift of God."
But, the story is so much more as we walk through the generations of this family owned business, and their deep passion to brew their beer for the glory of God, to give back to their community, their nation and the world. "The Guinness family chose to leave a legacy."
The Search for God and Guinness is a history book, an inspirational business story and not least, a story of a family that birthed a way of life for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Henry Grattan Guinness, Arthur Guinness' grandson, "was one of the great preachers of his age". "Souls were converted, churches began bulging". Also interesting to note is that Henry aggressively addressed the issue of a new book out, "On the Origin of the Species", as he knew this to be a lie that would easily sway the poor and uneducated. He chose to research and teach students how to address what he believed to be "the most insidious lie of his age."
I could go on and on, but you are going to have to go out and buy the book and read for yourself. I think you will have a greater appreciation for the beverage we call beer, the company called Guinness and the family that truly believed and lived life with the passion to do the will of God.
Posted October 14, 2009
This book tells the history of one of the world's most successful beer manufactures, Guinness. The author follows two and half centuries of the Guinness family, beginning with the founder Arthur Guinness. It tells of not only the success of the company of their positive impact on society.
I found the story of the Guinness's' very heartening and refreshing. I must admit upon first reading the cover of the book " A Biography of the Beer That Changed The World" I was a bit leery. But that just goes to the old saying.. This book kept my attention and I was very pleased to learn of the ways that the Guinness's' used their wealth to serve their fellow man. They gave their workers in the 1920's such benefits as full medical and dental, pension and so much more. They also guaranteed that if their employees served during World War I that their jobs would be waiting for them when they came back. The generosity of the company not only touched the lives of their employees but the entire community. I was very surprised to learn that the Arthur Guinness founded the very first Sunday schools in Ireland. I think that the author did a wonderful job bringing the story together and I like that he helps the reader to understand the role that faith played in the success of the Guinness's.This book was a gratifying read that I would recommend to others.
I am writing this review as a member of Thomas Nelson's Book Review Bloggers