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Salt Hardcover – Large Print, Jul 1 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 572 pages
  • Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition (July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786243899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786243891
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 912 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,882,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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3.7 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Poirier on March 25 2004
Format: Paperback
The book tells the story of salt throughout world history: how it was made, how it was traded, how it was used, and the effect the salt industry has had on villages, cities, and regions.
The book starts and ends in China, first describing the brine wells and the advanced drilling techniques the Chinese invented centuries ago. The text then moves to how salt was used in Roman times describing a sauce called garum made from pickled and fermented fish parts. Kurlansky then continues with Mediteranean fish industry. Salt's main use was in preserving fish. The next big change came when cod was found off the coast of Newfoundland. Cod's low fat meant more salt was needed.
Eventually, the American colonies developed their own salt and cod industries. Kurlansky describes the importance of salt in the American Civil War, how salt works led to the marketing of Tabasco sauce, how canals were dug through New York state to take salt from the Great Lakes to the coast.
After a quick recounting of how salt was used by Ghandi to spark India's revolution, the book ends back in China and how the salt industry there has moved into the modern age. The old traditional derricks are gone; no one wanted to pay to preserve even the most important ones as historical landmarks.
Kurlanski gives a good outline of how salt was taxed in various parts of the world. His description of how the salt tax was an important factor in both the French and Indian revolutions deserves special mention.
As he describes how salt was traded and produced, Kurlanky peppers his narrative (sorry...) with short recipes that illustrate how salt was used in different parts of the world and at different times of our history.
If you love food and history, you'll love this book. If you love one and only moderately like the other, you'll find the book bogs down a bit.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Keith Smith on Dec 6 2003
Format: Paperback
Salt is one of those things that turned up all over the place in my high school studies. It turned up in chemisty (sodium chloride), in biology (the amount of salt in our bodies and what we do with it), in history and English (check out the root of the word: "salary"). So sure, salt's important. But does it merit its own entire book about its history? Turns out the answer is both yes and no...
I like these small, focused histories (as you've probably guessed if you've read any of the other reviews I've written). I've read many of them, including another one by Mark Kurlansky, Cod (which I rather enjoyed). So when I ran across Salt, I was certain I wanted to read it. I liked Kurlansky's style, and I already knew that the subject matter would be interesting.
And it was. In Salt, Kurlansky walks through both the history of salt and the influence of salt on history, presenting a wide and varied picture of one of the [now] most common elements in our modern world. And he does this in the same engaging fashion that he used in Cod; although, with fewer recipes. So why not give it five stars? Well, it has a couple of noticable flaws that tended to detract a bit from the overall presentation.
The first flaw was in the sheer number of historical snippets that were included. While I'm certain that salt has been important in the broad span of human history, there are a number of these historical anecdotes where he was clearly reaching to demonstrate the influence of salt. Salt may have been involved in these incidents, but it was peripheral at best, and the overall tone sounds too much like cheerleading. Cutting a few of these out would have shortened the book without detracting from the presentation at all.
The second flaw was the meandering path that he takes through the history of salt.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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. In any case, I do not think that I would spend as much time as MK did in discussing acient recipes for rotted fish guts. Most of the book consists of one historical fact piled upon another. Alghough I enjoyed his other book on Cod, he did not seem to devote the same care and attention to this one. Instead, we get one fact after another barely organized in to country of origin. I hate to rub salt in his wounds, but better give this one a pass.
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By Donna Koziak on Oct. 22 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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 uncontrolled development of oil. I find it of some interest that the reasoning of the "power & money" boys haven't changed in 400 years. I'm looking for a new script for them.
Dee
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul D on June 8 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a gem of a book. It discusses and intertwines the history and importance of salt from prehistoric times until now in the context of the various types of salt, preserving and brining meat, fish and other foods, cooking, cheese making, health, geology, geography, place names, world trade, world history, warfare, art and investments, to name a few topics.
The descriptions of the role of salt in the American Civil War and the Caribbean islands were fascinating. Then there were the Romans, the Mayans, The Aztecs, the Chinese, the French, the Germans, the English, the Dutch, the Russians, the Scandinavians and others and their involvement with salt.
The recipes for cooking with salt are aptly chosen from about 4000 years of recorded history and are remarkably similar to those in use today. The colorful view and history of the San Francisco salt ponds from an airplane were always a bit of mystery to me, but no longer. The origin of towns and cities whose name ends in "wich" was enlightening, to say nothing of Salzburg and the many salt mines in the world.
In short, this book is a grand, well-written, informative and often amusing world panorama of salt filled with a host of pearls of learning. It is hard to put down and makes 449 pages pleasantly fly by, leaving you with a taste for more. If you have ever used salt, you really should read this book.
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