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Cod

Cover of Cod

Cod

A Biography Of The Fish That Changed The World
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Wars have been fought over it, revolutions have been spurred by it, national diets have been based on it, economies have depended on it, and the settlement of North America was driven by it. 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.
Cod is a charming tour of history with all its economic forces laid bare and a fish story embellished with great gastronomic detail. It is also a tragic tale of environmental failure, of depleted fishing stocks where once the cod's numbers were legendary. In this deceptively whimsical biography of a fish, Mark Kurlansky brings a thousand years of human civilization into captivating focus.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Wars have been fought over it, revolutions have been spurred by it, national diets have been based on it, economies have depended on it, and the settlement of North America was driven by it. 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.
Cod is a charming tour of history with all its economic forces laid bare and a fish story embellished with great gastronomic detail. It is also a tragic tale of environmental failure, of depleted fishing stocks where once the cod's numbers were legendary. In this deceptively whimsical biography of a fish, Mark Kurlansky brings a thousand years of human civilization into captivating focus.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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About the Author-
  • Mark Kurlansky worked for several years on commercial fishing boats in Canada and the US, and subsequently became a journalist, covering beats in Eastern and Western Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America for the Chicago Tribune and the International Herald Tribune. He has written for magazines including Harper's, Audubon, and the New York Times Magazine, and contributes a column on food history to Food & Wine magazine. In addition to Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, he is the author of A Continent of Islands: Searching for the Caribbean Destiny, A Chosen Few: The Resurrection of European Jewry, The Basque History of the World, and Salt: A World History. He lives in New York City.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 2, 1997
    No fish story, this is a sapient and vivid chronology of the immense impact and influence the cod fishing industry has had on the human race. The cod fish has played a major role in the economics, sustainability and diplomacy of many countries and societies throughout history, explains Kurlansky (A Continent of Islands). Kurlansky effectively weaves philosophical thought with facts and vignettes on the history of the various cod fishing enterprises that have emerged and faded through the ages. Wars over fishing territories and rights have plagued cod fishing ever since humans took to the sea, and Kurlansky traces these hostilities through short history lessons that are easily absorbed and understood. Personal quotes and cod recipes from slaves, kings, diplomats, fisherman and noted scholars such as Thoreau and Kipling cast a glistening view of the grasp this fishing industry had on society. The book's final section, "A Cook's Tale: Six Centuries of Cod Recipes" describes the use and preparation of cod from the days of the Vikings through the 1900s. Complete with a detailed bibliography, this remarkable and informative volume should net any number of happy readers. Illustrations. Rights: Charlotte Sheedy.

  • 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."

  • St. John's Evening Telegram "[A] marvellously enlightening ... concise biography that does justice to the vibrant and tragic history of the cod."
  • The Georgia Straight "Stephen King would be proud. In Cod, Mark Kurlansky has created a little book of horrors that is compulsively readable."
  • Publishers Weekly "This remarkable and informative volume should net any number of happy readers."
  • The Financial Post "A beautiful, vivacious essay on life and manners, not overlooking human folly."
  • 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."
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Cod
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A Biography Of The Fish That Changed The World
Mark Kurlansky
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