winelghund, September 14, 2008 (view all comments by winelghund)
It has been some years since I first read this book but I still recommend it highly. Kurlansky uses his remarkable talent to weave a tapestry of scientific, historical and cultural threads relating this thirty-pound sack of protien to the Hanseatic League, the Triangle Trade, and almost every important event and entity in western European history. "...the Fish That Changed the World" indeed!
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jmstraig, May 27, 2007 (view all comments by jmstraig)
A fish-eye view of history, Cod charts over 500 years of human interaction with the humble Codfish. From the influence of Cod in American settlements to the effects of commercial fishing on Cod populations Mark Kurlansky's portrait of the Cod fish is complete, however, Cod is more than just a bizarre historical tale. The effects of humanity on the enviroment, and the danger that the long savored Cod fish could face in the future emerge in detail. Kurlansky's book is a readable, entertaining, and education experience and is well worth exploring.
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by New York Newsday,
"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".
by Library Journal,
"Kurlansky relates [the] information in an entertaining style while providing accurate scientific information."
by New York Times Book Review,
"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."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Writing with a bright, crisp, journalistic flair, Kurlansky situates the cod in all its historic glory..."
by The Globe and Mail,
"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."
by St. John's Evening Telegram,
"[A] marvellously enlightening...concise biography that does justice to the vibrant and tragic history of the cod."
by The Georgia Straight,
"Stephen King would be proud. In Cod, Mark Kurlansky has created a little book of horrors that is compulsively readable."
by The Financial Post,
"A beautiful, vivacious essay on life and manners, not overlooking human folly."
by David McCullough,
"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."
by Publishers Weekly,
"[T]his remarkable and informative volume should net any number of happy readers."
From the Bestselling Author of Salt and The Basque History of the World
Cod, Mark Kurlansky’s third work of nonfiction and winner of the 1999 James Beard Award, 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 charming fish tale and a pretty gift for your favorite seafood cook or fishing monomaniac. But in the last analysis, it’s a bitter ecological fable for our time.” –Los Angeles Times
“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
“One of the 25 Best Books of the Year.” –The New York Public Library
Mark Kurlansky is the author of many books including Salt, The Basque History of the World, 1968, and The Big Oyster. His newest book is Birdseye.
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