Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World

By Stephen Mansfield, 273 pages hardcover, Thomas Nelson.

More a biography of the family and corporation than of the beer, The Search for God and Guinness nevertheless interweaves several interesting strands, including history, beer-making, and vast societal change. Mansfield keeps the storyline close to the people involved, painting interesting, believable, well-researched character portrayals.

The religious temper of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries played a major role in the company, from the top down and from the beginning. Company founder Arthur Guinness was influenced by evangelical preacher John Wesley, “who inspired him [Guinness] to use his wealth and talents to care for the hurting of mankind. Taking Scripture as his guide, Arthur did indeed serve the needy of his time and did indeed try to use his gifts in honor of his God.”

Mansfield is a good theologian, and emphasizes the consistent outlook of the company and family, inspired as they were by this founding vision. The Guinness Company looked after its employees until the 1960s in almost unmatched, revolutionary ways, educating them, providing doctors, nurses, and social workers, and even offering housing assistance.

The Guinness Company was also at the forefront of technological change, including the logistics to bring its product to the Caribbean and West Africa, and the Japanese-like attention to detail and drive to constantly improve in all areas.

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