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Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World (Paperback)

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Cod, A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, is a timely and captivating book full of interesting anecdotes and surprises. For example, cod is revered for helping early American settlers survive, but we were probably not taught that cod was a major basis for the development of the New England merchant class without which the American revolution would not have taken place or that feeding the slaves on the Caribbean sugar plantations- part of the notorious triangle trade- was an important source of their profits. Kurlansky takes us from the early explorers such as the Vikings to the present-day Gloucester fishermen struggling to survive in the face of overfishing, always keeping his writing clear, interesting and insightful. In addition, he includes many recipes for cod gleaned from old cookbooks which adds authenticity to this excellent book which I highly recommend.


— From Matt


An unexpected, energetic look at world history on sea and land 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?

"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, author of The Wright Brothers and 1776

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.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780140275018
ISBN-10: 0140275010
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: July 1st, 1998
Pages: 294
Language: English