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Only Kurlansky, winner of the James Beard Award for Excellence in Food Writing for Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, could woo readers toward such an off-beat topic. Yet salt, Kurlansky asserts, has "shaped civilization." Although now taken for granted, these square crystals are not only of practical use, but over the ages have symbolized fertility (it is, after all, the root of the word "salacious") and lasting covenants, and have been used in magical charms. Called a "divine substance" by Homer, salt is an essential part of the human body, was one of the first international commodities and was often used as currency throughout the developing world. Kurlansky traces the history of salt's influences from prehistoric China and ancient Africa (in Egypt they made mummies using salt) to Europe (in 12th-century Provence, France, salt merchants built "a system of solar evaporation ponds") and the Americas, through chapters with intriguing titles like "A Discourse on Salt, Cadavers and Pungent Sauces." The book is populated with characters as diverse as frozen-food giant Clarence Birdseye; Gandhi, who broke the British salt law that forbade salt production in India because it outdid the British salt trade; and New York City's sturgeon king, Barney Greengrass. Throughout his engaging, well-researched history, Kurlansky sprinkles witty asides and amusing anecdotes. A piquant blend of the historic, political, commercial, scientific and culinary, the book is sure to entertain as well as educate. Pierre Laszlo's Salt: Grain of Life (Forecasts, Aug. 6) got to the finish line first but doesn't compare to this artful narrative. 15 recipes, 4o illus., 7 maps.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
In his latest work, Kurlansky (Cod, The Basque History of the World) is in command of every facet of his topic, and he conveys his knowledge in a readable, easy style. Deftly leading readers around the world and across cultures and centuries, he takes an inexpensive, mundane item and shows how it has influenced and affected wars, cultures, governments, religions, societies, economies, cooking (there are a few recipes), and foods. In addition, he provides information on the chemistry, geology, mining, refining, and production of salt, again across cultures, continents, and time periods. The 26 chapters flow in chronological order, and the cast of characters includes fishermen, kings, Native Americans, and even Gandhi. An entertaining, informative read, this is highly recommended for all collections. [For another book on the topic, see Pierre Laszlo's more esoteric Salt: Grain of Life, LJ 7/01; other recent micro-histories include Joseph Amato's Dust, Mort Rosenblum's Olive, and Tom Vanderbilt's The Sneaker Book. Ed.] Michael D. Cramer, Raleigh, N.
- Michael D. Cramer, Raleigh, NC
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
An interesting and excellent read. Much information gleaned.
It was loose in the package and I was concerned it might have got damaged, but it was ok.
I don't know about you, but if someone told me that my diet for the next 2K years was going to consists of rotted fish parts and bread I think I would bring my own lunch. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Dave the Rave
This has to be one of the most interesting books ever written. Tons of stuff I never knew before, and all told in fascinating stories.Published 22 months ago by Donna Koziak
After hearing an interview on the radio with the author, I was interested in the apparent parellel between "the salt wars" and the arguments being used today for the... Read morePublished on May 16 2013 by dorothy read
This was one of the most informative and entertaining books I have read. The history is fascinating, the subject is of the earth and of the people, of food and survival, of... Read morePublished on Jan. 19 2012 by R. Maxwell
Once the email was sent saying the product had been shipped it did not take long to arrive at my home. Read morePublished on Nov. 12 2011 by P.Jody
No doubt packed with fascinating facts and trivia about salt, it is a tedious slog to read. The tale is not told in an engaging way, and it just gets bogged down in endless... Read morePublished on Aug. 30 2010 by Andrew Gray