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Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the Worldby Mark Kurlansky
Synopses & Reviews
A delightful romp through history with all its economic forces laid bare, Cod is the biography of a single species of fish, but it may as well be a world history with this humble fish as its recurring main character. Cod, it turns out, is the reason Europeans set sail across the Atlantic, and it is the only reason they could. What did the Vikings eat in icy Greenland and on the five expeditions to America recorded in the Icelandic sagas? Cod — frozen and dried in the frosty air, then broken into pieces and eaten like hardtack. What was the staple of the medieval diet? Cod again, sold salted by the Basques, an enigmatic people with a mysterious, unlimited supply of cod.
As we make our way through the centuries of cod history, we also find a delicious legacy of recipes, and the tragic story of environmental failure, of depleted fishing stocks where once their numbers were legendary. In this lovely, thoughtful history, Mark Kurlansky ponders the question: Is the fish that changed the world forever changed by the world's folly?
"A loving eulogy not only to a fish, but to the people whose lives have been shaped by the habits of the fish, and whose way of life is now at an end". New York Newsday
"Kurlansky relates [the] information in an entertaining style while providing accurate scientific information." Library Journal
"This eminently readable book is a new tool for scanning world history. It leads to a vastly different perception of why folks did what they did....Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World is history filtered through the gills of the fish trade." New York Times Book Review
"Writing with a bright, crisp, journalistic flair, Kurlansky situates the cod in all its historic glory..." Kirkus Reviews
"Books as beautifully written and elegantly illustrated as this are, unhappily, as rare as cod. Kurlansky's marvellous fish opus stands as a reminder of what good non-fiction used to be: eloquent, learned, and full of earthy narratives that delight and appall. This book yields a feast of common and uncommon truths about the greatest of all hunters, homo sapiens." The Globe and Mail
"[A] marvellously enlightening...concise biography that does justice to the vibrant and tragic history of the cod." St. John's Evening Telegram
"Stephen King would be proud. In Cod, Mark Kurlansky has created a little book of horrors that is compulsively readable." The Georgia Straight
"A beautiful, vivacious essay on life and manners, not overlooking human folly." The Financial Post
"Every once in a while a writer of particular skill takes a fresh, seemingly improbable idea and turns out a book of pure delight. Such is the case of Mark Kurlansky and the codfish." David McCullough
"[T]his remarkable and informative volume should net any number of happy readers." Publishers Weekly
Of all the rattlesnakes in the Western Hemisphere, the timber rattlesnake has evoked the widest, most controversial constituency. The first venomous snake encountered by European colonists, it was the first New World snake classified by Linnaeus, who gave it the Latinized name Crotalus horridus, which translates to and#147;scaly beast with musical rattle.and#8221; Benjamin Franklin was enamored by the timber rattlesnake. The timber rattlesnake is also the most thoroughly studied rattlesnake by amateur and professional herpetologists. E. O. Wilson has suggested that we fear them innately, but there is a population for whom these scaly predators charm better than any snake handler can attempt to do. These characters coil in the pages of Ted Levin's America's Snake, where the narrative slithers through the fascinating world of snake research and quackery, including everything from rattlesnakesand#8217; unique reproductive behaviors to its relatively recent evolutionary history. We also come face to face with hucksters, such as the "Cobra King," who in his lifetime collected 9000 of the snakes for illegal trade, and who sold maps to Timber dens for $50, and guided tours for $5000. In Americaand#8217;s Snake, the rise and fall of the timber rattlesnake is examined, scale by scale.
Thereandrsquo;s no sound quite like it, or as viscerally terrifying: the ominous rattle of the timber rattlesnake. Itandrsquo;s a chilling shorthand for imminent danger, and a reminder of the countless ways that nature can suddenly snuff us out.
Yet most of us have never seen a timber rattler. Though theyandrsquo;re found in thirty-one states, and near many major cities, in contemporary America timber rattlesnakes are creatures mostly of imagination and innate fear.
Ted Levin aims to change that with Americaandrsquo;s Snake, a portrait of the timber rattlesnake, its place in Americaandrsquo;s pantheon of creatures and in our own frontier historyandmdash;and of the heroic efforts to protect it against habitat loss, climate change, and the human tendency to kill what we fear. Taking us from labs where the secrets of the snakeandrsquo;s evolutionary history are being unlocked to far-flung habitats whose locations are fiercely protected by biologists and dedicated amateur herpetologists alike, Levin paints a picture of a fascinating creature: peaceable, social, long-lived, and, despite our phobias, not inclined to bite. The timber rattler emerges here as emblematic of America and also, unfortunately, of the complicated, painful struggles involved in protecting and preserving the natural world.
A wonderful mix of natural history, travel writing, and exemplary journalism, Americaandrsquo;s Snake is loaded with remarkable charactersandmdash;none more so than the snake at its heart: frightening, perhaps; endangered, certainly; and unquestionably unforgettable.
An irresistible account of bread, bread baking, and one home bakerand#8217;s journey to master his craft
In 2009, journalist Samuel Fromartz was offered the assignment of a lifetime: to travel to France to work in a boulangerie. So began his quest to hone not just his homemade baguetteand#151;which later beat out professional bakeries to win the and#147;Best Baguette of D.C.and#8221;and#151;but his knowledge of bread, from seed to table.
For the next four years, Fromartz traveled across the United States and Europe, perfecting his sourdough in California, his whole grain rye in Berlin, and his country wheat in the South of France. Along the way, he met historians, millers, farmers, wheat geneticists, sourdough biochemists, and everyone in between, learning about the history of breadmaking, the science of fermentation, and more. The result is an informative yet personal account of bread and breadbaking, complete with detailed recipes, tips, and beautiful photographs.
Entertaining and inspiring, this book will be a touchstone for a new generation of bakers and a must-read for anyone who wants to take a deeper look at this deceptively ordinary, exceptionally delicious staple: handmade bread.
About the Author
Mark Kurlansky has written articles for the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, the International Herald Tribune, and Partisan Review. He is also the author of two other books, A Continent of Islands: Searching for the Caribbean Destiny (Ballantine) and The Chosen Few: The Resurrection of European Jewry(Ballantine). When not travelling around the world, Mark makes his home in New York City with his wife and daughter.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Sentry on the Headlands (So Close to Ireland)
PART ONE: A FISH TALE
PART TWO: LIMITS
PART THREE: THE LAST HUNTERS
A COOK'S TALE: SIX CENTURIES OF COD RECIPES
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