I read the first edition of Pete's book a couple of years ago when I had a real thirst for information on the history of beer in this country. This book certainly quenched it with a wealth of facts tracing the origins of beer in Egyptian times through to present time (as of 2002 for the first edition.)
It covers the development of brewing from being a home based activity performed by ale wives to a multi billion pound industry of brewing giants. He looks at the effects of the 2 world wars on the industry and drinking habits of the nation and how the temperance movement fitted in to the picture.
There are many interesting and amusing facts thrown into the mix and his footnotes often give you a good chuckle.
I felt the end of the first edition left me a bit dissapointed as we discovered that Pete was a lager drinker who had an obvious bias towards Stella Artois as he worked in the marketing of the beer. He was also heavy handed on his criticism of CAMRA who although have obviously been flawed over the years he seemed to under-estimate the power this organisation still had. The second edition of the book for me makes amends for this. He has re-wrote his section on CAMRA with a more balanced and less collective criticism of the organisation and more specific comments. He has also balanced out the critique with praise for their achievements and also reports on how the organisation has developed over the 8 years since the first edition. Gone also are the pages of praise for Stella replaced with a chronicle of this beers rise to glory and subsequent fall from grace.
There are additional chapters on events in the last decade including the rise of Microbreweries, the changes in licensing laws and neo-prohibitionists. The first edition was a great read and spurred me on to read his other great but quite different books related to beer. Pete is now seen as an authority on beer and the industry with his publications in newspapers and his No.1 ranked blog. If you are interested in getting to know more about beer and it's origins this is the book for you, if you read the first edition it's certainly worthwhile reaturning to the second edition with all the changes and additions.