Synopses & Reviews
The bestselling author of Cod, Salt, and The Big Oyster has enthralled readers with his incisive blend of culinary, cultural, and social history. Now, in his most colorful, personal, and important book to date, Mark Kurlansky turns his attention to a disappearing way of life: fishing-how it has thrived in and defined one particular town for centuries, and what its imperiled future means for the rest of the world.
The culture of fishing is vanishing, and consequently, coastal societies are changing in unprecedented ways. The once thriving fishing communities of Rockport, Nantucket, Newport, Mystic, and many other coastal towns from Newfoundland to Florida and along the West Coast have been forced to abandon their roots and become tourist destinations instead. Gloucester, Massachusetts, however, is a rare survivor. The livelihood of America's oldest fishing port has always been rooted in the life and culture of commercial fishing.
The Gloucester story began in 1004 with the arrival of the Vikings. Six hundred years later, Captain John Smith championed the bountiful waters off the coast of Gloucester, convincing new settlers to come to the area and start a new way of life. Gloucester became the most productive fishery in New England, its people prospering from the seemingly endless supply of cod and halibut. With the introduction of a faster fishing boat-the schooner-the industry flourished. In the twentieth century, the arrival of Portuguese, Jews, and Sicilians turned the bustling center into a melting pot. Artists and writers such as Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, and T. S. Eliot came to the fishing town and found inspiration.
But the vital life of Gloucester was beingthreatened. Ominous signs were seen with the development of engine-powered net-dragging vessels in the first decade of the twentieth century. As early as 1911, Gloucester fishermen warned of the dire consequences of this new technology. Since then, these vessels have become even larger and more efficient, and today the resulting overfishing, along with climate change and pollution, portends the extinction of the very species that fishermen depend on to survive, and of a way of life special not only to Gloucester but to coastal cities all over the world. And yet, according to Kurlansky, it doesn't have to be this way. Scientists, government regulators, and fishermen are trying to work out complex formulas to keep fishing alive.
Engagingly written and filled with rich history, delicious anecdotes, colorful characters, and local recipes, The Last Fish Tale is Kurlansky's most urgent story, a heartfelt tribute to what he calls socio-diversity and a lament that each culture, each way of life that vanishes, diminishes the richness of civilization.
"A heartfelt tribute...as beautifully-written as the fondest and best-crafted eulogy."
"A colorful history of Gloucester...rich, varied, and satisfying, just like a good chowder."
andquot;Every once in a while a writer of particular skill takes a fresh, seemingly improbable idea and turns out a book of pure delight.andquot; -- David McCullough
andldquo;Fascinating stuff . . . [Kurlansky] has a keen eye for odd facts and natural detail.andrdquo; andmdash;The Wall Street Journal
andldquo;Kurlansky continues to prove himself remarkably adept at taking a most unlikely candidate and telling its tale with epic grandeur.andrdquo; andmdash;Los Angeles Times Book Review
andldquo;Brilliantandhellip; Journalistic skills might be part of a writerandrsquo;s survival kit, but they infrequently prove to be the foundation for literary success, as they have here. andhellip;. Kurlansky has a wonderful ear for the syntax and rhythm of the vernacularandhellip; For all the seriousness of Kurlanskyandrsquo;s cultural entanglements, it is nevertheless a delight to experience his sophisticated sense of play and, at times, his outright wicked sense of humor.andrdquo;andnbsp;andmdash;The New York Times Book Review
From the "New York Times"-bestselling author of "Cod, Salt," and "The Big Oyster" comes the colorful story of a way of life that for hundreds of years has defined much of America's coastlines but is slowly disappearing. Illustrated.
"A marvelous, compelling tale"(Rocky Mountain News) from the New York Times bestselling author of Salt and Cod.
Gloucester, Massachusetts, America's oldest fishing port, is defined by the culture of commercial fishing. But the threat of over-fishing, combined with climate change and pollution, is endangering a way of life, not only in Gloucester but in coastal cities all over the world. And yet, according to Kurlansky, it doesn't have to be this way. Engagingly written and filled with rich history, delicious anecdotes, colorful characters, and local recipes, The Last Fish Tale is Kurlansky's most urgent story, "an engrossing multi-layered portrait of a fishing community that can be read for pure pleasure as well as being a campaigning plea for the environment" (Financial Times).
Can a song change a nation? In 1964, Marvin Gaye, record producer William andldquo;Mickeyandrdquo; Stevenson, and Motown songwriter Ivy Jo Hunter wrote andldquo;Dancing in the Street.andrdquo; The song was recorded at Motownandrsquo;s Hitsville USA Studio by Martha and the Vandellas, with lead singer Martha Reeves arranging her own vocals. Released on July 31, the song was supposed to be an upbeat dance recordingandmdash;a precursor to disco, and a song about the joyousness of dance. But events overtook it, and the song became one of the icons of American pop culture.and#160;The Beatles had landed in the U.S. in early 1964. By the summer, the sixties were in full swing. The summer of 1964 was the Mississippi Freedom Summer, the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, the beginning of the Vietnam War, the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and the lead-up to a dramatic election. As the country grew more radicalized in those few months, andldquo;Dancing in the Streetandrdquo; gained currency as an activist anthem. The song took on new meanings, multiple meanings, for many different groups that were all changing as the country changed.and#160;Told by the writer who is legendary for finding the big story in unlikely places, Ready for a Brand New Beat chronicles that extraordinary summer of 1964 and showcases the momentous role that a simple song about dancing played in history.
About the Author
Mark Kurlansky is the New York Times bestselling author of many books, including The Food of a Younger Land, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World; Salt: A World History; 1968: The Year That Rocked the World; and The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell. He lives in New York City.