Cod : A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World Hardcover – Jun 1 1997
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Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World
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Top Customer Reviews
Kurlansky is an excellent storyteller, who can make a school of fish seem like a hot topic. I could not put Cod down, and read the book from cover to cover, including the final chapter devoted to forty pages of cod recipes. The addition of recipes is typical of Kurlansky, as I recall Salt had recipes and The Basque History of the World featured many from the Basque kitchen. Cod played a vital role in the advancement of trans-Atlantic exploration. Who living in North or South America today would have thought that cod would be the reason they are there now? For it was because of dried and salted cod that crews could sustain themselves across long oceanic passages.Read more ›
Verdict: Its a very good book. About cod. Honestly, it wasn't the best book I've ever read, but for Kurlansky to have held my attention for 220+ pages on the subject of a fish is a fairly remarkable feat.
The cod fish seems to have had a fin in all sorts of historical events. According to Kurlansky, one of the deciding factors in the Pilgrims having chosen Massachusetts as their landing spot is because they envisioned that there would be good fishing off of an arm-shaped land formation called "Cape Cod." I would have sworn that I read somewhere that the Pilgrims first intended to land in Virginia and were blown off-course to Plymouth Bay by pure accident... but I could be mistaken. And besides, the term "Virginia" in the early 17th century could have applied to just about the entire Eastern Seaboard of North America. So either way, Kurlansky could still be right.
Another startling example of the cod-that-changed-the-world philosophy is in Iceland, which relied so heavily on the fish that it had three wars with England - actually called the "Cod Wars" - over the matter. And that was just in the last century, between 1956 and 1977. Sure, no one was killed, but a lot of mean words were thrown about and fishnets cut.Read more ›
Cod reminds us that human beings are a connected part of our ecosystem. Too often, I think we perceive some sort of separation between us and so-called "nature." We are either concerned with or disregard our impact on the rest of the system, but we overlook how that system impacts on us. Mr. Kurlansky shows the human side of the equation. and how a lack of concern for the totality of our environment will eventually come back and bite us in the rear. We see how the reduction of the cod population has impacted on the world's fishing industry, and, more importantly, on the individuals who make up that industry.
Cod is an extremely well-done history book, detailed and easy to read. More importantly, it is clearly relevant to contemporary readers, demonstrating how the cycle of cause-and-effect continues to this day.
The history goes back even further, to the f!irst century AD when the Vikings set sail from Norway through Iceland, to Greenland, Canada, and perhaps New England. It's not a coincidence that this is the exact range of cod, nor is it surprising that after the Vikings, the Basques became well known as cod fishers. We see the beginnings of Mr Kurlansky's admiration for these intrepid sailors from the Iberian peninsula; an interest that led him to write THE BASQUE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.
It's only fitting that such a quirky fish would produce historical anomalies such as the fact that in one of the places named for it - Cape Cod - nowadays you will be hard pressed to find any sign of its past. Also reconcile how cod, which, unlike man has never traveled to the Caribbean, has nevertheless become the main part of Jamaica's delicious national dish - ackee and saltfish. Speaking of food; Mr Kurlansky, in making his book as odd as cod, and as interesting as its history, throws in some recipes that you can try for yourself.
Most recent customer reviews
Superb read full of interesting facts about the fish so central to medieval and early modern history. Read morePublished 19 months ago by William
this book anticipate the sad future of many animals and fish species.(atlantic salmon, snow crab,northern whale (narwal)
it is a great book written by a great author.
A short, not overly belabored overview of the history of cod fishing and the politics and economic factors that impact the situation to this day. Read morePublished on Feb. 14 2011 by Rodge
This book is another interesting and informative, but narrow subject history book of the type this author prefers to write. In some sections it poses as a cookbook. Read morePublished on June 16 2004 by J. head
This book has to be one of the most entertaining history texts in, well, history. I couldn't put it down. What a joy!Published on Nov. 20 2002 by Jill Bernard
If you enjoy popular nonfiction such as The Perfect Storm, Longitude, or A Walk in the Woods, you'll enjoy this book. Read morePublished on May 14 2002 by Ken Zirkel
Originality and patriotism are good things. Cod and his fishing also is. But that definitely isn't by nothing good it's to say that Basques are a special and almost unique race in... Read morePublished on March 12 2002 by Carlos Vazquez Quintana