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Cod : A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World [Hardcover]

4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)

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Book by Kurlansky, Mark

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By William
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Superb read full of interesting facts about the fish so central to medieval and early modern history. Also an indictment of human stupidity on how this valuable resource has been fished to extinction and fishermen wish to go on fishing in a manner guaranteed to exhaust the ocean of all marine life. Farming, husbandry, is the only way forward, as was realized millions of years ago with land based agriculture.
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5.0 out of 5 stars regard lucide sur l'etat des stocks de morue. Oct. 13 2011
By caribou
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.
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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. One gets the impression of not overly ethical predators (men) pursuing their own gain without any clear view, or a desire for a clear view, of the consequences. This is not a judgmental book, however. Rather one gets the sense of regret for what has been lost.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and informative , but ... June 16 2004
By J. head
Format:Audio Cassette
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. I was irritated by the amount of text actually devoted to Codfish recipes, when what I purchased was a historical type book . The author has a very good writing style. The book covers the early history of some cultures that took advantage of this bottom dwelling fish prized for its unique white meat. The Codfish affected these early cultures as it still does today, where regional and national economies are suffering from the impact of worldwide diminishing Codfish stocks in spite of some sporadic conservation measures.
This reader recommends ignoring the all too frequent codfish recipes interspersed with the good historical information. This book makes for a fine compact interesting history of man's relationship with the Codfish. Ignore the historical section and I suppose it would be a passable Codfish cookbook.
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a dish! Nov. 21 2002
This book has to be one of the most entertaining history texts in, well, history. I couldn't put it down. What a joy!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great fish story May 15 2002
If you enjoy popular nonfiction such as The Perfect Storm, Longitude, or A Walk in the Woods, you'll enjoy this book. The connecting thread is that in each of these, the author uses an interesting narrative angle to describe historical trends and scientific facts without being overly pedantic or dry.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Let's Kill All the Cod Feb. 12 2002
"Cod the Fish etc." is a breezy informative read especially for those interested in some of the driving forces to early trade patterns between the continent, new world and West Indies. The former two desired sugar, mollasses and rum and the latter used the cod to feed to the slaves who,in turn, were fed to the sugar cane fields.
More anecdotal than statistical,"Cod the Fish that Changed the World" could have expanded on the slave trade and the economy of early New England (or New Virginia)but is,nonetheless, a pleasure to read. Actually went out and ate some;I had forgot the taste.
Oh yes. We ate most of the Cod, and many fishing dependent areas have gone wanting and the industry has far too much capacity.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good book. About cod. Feb. 11 2002
Hmmm... not sure I can explain why I wanted to read this book. I mean, its about cod. A fish. And a rather unimpressive-looking one at that. I don't even know where or when I heard about this book, but I did sometime, at someplace, and whatever it was I heard really made me want to read it. I do know that the American right to the cod fisheries of the Grand Banks was an important part of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolution. So maybe that's why I picked it up. To be honest, I just don't know.
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.
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