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The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shellby Mark Kurlansky
Mark Kurlansky is King of the microhistory. Much like his previous books Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World and Salt: A World History, The Big Oyster goes way beyond the usual scope of food history, this time detailing the oyster's broader influence on the development of New York. A fascinating glimpse into both the city and the bivalve, this richly detailed gem is engrossing to the end.
Synopses & Reviews
“Part treatise, part miscellany, unfailingly entertaining.”
-The New York Times
“A small pearl of a book . . . a great tale of the growth of a modern city as seen through the rise and fall of the lowly oyster.”
-Rocky Mountain News
Award-winning author Mark Kurlansky tells the remarkable story of New York by following the trajectory of one of its most fascinating inhabitants-the oyster.
For centuries New York was famous for this particular shellfish, which until the early 1900s played such a dominant a role in the citys life that the abundant bivalves were Gothams most celebrated export, a staple food for all classes, and a natural filtration system for the citys congested waterways.
Filled with cultural, historical, and culinary insight-along with historic recipes, maps, drawings, and photos-this dynamic narrative sweeps readers from the seventeenth-century founding of New York to the death of its oyster beds and the rise of Americas environmentalist movement, from the oyster cellars of the rough-and-tumble Five Points slums to Manhattans Gilded Age dining chambers. With The Big Oyster, Mark Kurlansky serves up history at its most engrossing, entertaining, and delicious.
“Suffused with [Kurlanskys] pleasure in exploring the city across ground that hasnt already been covered with other writers footprints.”
-Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Fascinating stuff . . . [Kurlansky] has a keen eye for odd facts and natural detail.”
-The Wall Street Journal
“Kurlansky packs his breezy book with terrific anecdotes.”
“Magnificent . . . a towering accomplishment.”
Before New York City was the Big Apple, it could have been called the Big Oyster. Now award-winning author Mark Kurlansky tells the remarkable story of New York by following the trajectory of one of its most fascinating inhabitants-the oyster, whose influence on the great metropolis remains unparalleled. <BR>For centuries New York was famous for its oysters, which until the early 1900s played such a dominant a role in the city's economy, gastronomy, and ecology that the abundant bivalves were Gotham's most celebrated export, a staple food for the wealthy, the poor, and tourists alike, and the primary natural defense against pollution for the city's congested waterways. <BR>Filled with cultural, historical, and culinary insight-along with historic recipes, maps, drawings, and photos-this dynamic narrative sweeps readers from the island hunting ground of the Lenape Indians to the death of the oyster beds and the rise of America's environmentalist movement, from the oyster cellars of the rough-and-tumble Five Points slums to Manhattan's Gilded Age dining chambers. <BR>Kurlansky brings characters vividly to life while recounting dramatic incidents that changed the course of New York history. Here are the stories behind Peter Stuyvesant's peg leg and Robert Fulton's "Folly"; the oyster merchant and pioneering African American leader Thomas Downing; the birth of the business lunch at Delmonico's; early feminist Fanny Fern, one of the highest-paid newspaper writers in the city; even "Diamond" Jim Brady, who we discover was not the gourmand of popular legend. <BR>With The Big Oyster, Mark Kurlansky serves up history at its most engrossing, entertaining, and delicious. <P>"From the Hardcoveredition."
About the Author
Mark Kurlansky is the New York Times bestselling and James A. Beard Award—winning author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, Salt: A World History, 1968: The Year That Rocked the World, and The Basque History of the World, as well as Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue (his debut novel), and several other books. He lives in New York City.
From the Hardcover edition.
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