Cod: A Biography Of The Fish That Changed The World

Cod: A Biography Of The Fish That Changed The World

4.1 46
by Mark Kurlansky
     
 

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Wars have been fought over it, revolutions have been spurred by it, national diets have been based on it, economies have depended on it, and the settlement of North America was driven by it. 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

Overview

Wars have been fought over it, revolutions have been spurred by it, national diets have been based on it, economies have depended on it, and the settlement of North America was driven by it. 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.

Cod is a charming tour of history with all its economic forces laid bare and a fish story embellished with great gastronomic detail. It is also a tragic tale of environmental failure, of depleted fishing stocks where once the cod's numbers were legendary. In this deceptively whimsical biography of a fish, Mark Kurlansky brings a thousand years of human civilization into captivating focus.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Books as beautifully written and elegantly illustrated as this are, unhappily, as rare as cod. Kurlansky's marvellous fish opus stands as a reminder of what good non-fiction used to be: eloquent, learned, and full of earthy narratives that delight and appall. This book yields a feast of common and uncommon truths about the greatest of all hunters, homo sapiens." -- The Globe and Mail

"[A] marvellously enlightening ... concise biography that does justice to the vibrant and tragic history of the cod." -- St. John's Evening Telegram

"Stephen King would be proud. In Cod, Mark Kurlansky has created a little book of horrors that is compulsively readable." -- The Georgia Straight

"This remarkable and informative volume should net any number of happy readers." -- Publishers Weekly

"A beautiful, vivacious essay on life and manners, not overlooking human folly." -- The Financial Post

"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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780676971118
Publisher:
Knopf Canada
Publication date:
06/16/1998
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.13(h) x 0.64(d)

Related Subjects

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Books as beautifully written and elegantly illustrated as this are, unhappily, as rare as cod. Kurlansky's marvellous fish opus stands as a reminder of what good non-fiction used to be: eloquent, learned, and full of earthy narratives that delight and appall. This book yields a feast of common and uncommon truths about the greatest of all hunters, homo sapiens." — The Globe and Mail

"[A] marvellously enlightening ... concise biography that does justice to the vibrant and tragic history of the cod." — St. John's Evening Telegram

"Stephen King would be proud. In Cod, Mark Kurlansky has created a little book of horrors that is compulsively readable." — The Georgia Straight

"This remarkable and informative volume should net any number of happy readers." — Publishers Weekly

"A beautiful, vivacious essay on life and manners, not overlooking human folly." — The Financial Post

"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

Meet the Author

Mark Kurlansky worked for several years on commercial fishing boats in Canada and the US, and subsequently became a journalist, covering beats in Eastern and Western Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America for the Chicago Tribune and the International Herald Tribune. He has written for magazines including Harper's, Audubon, and the New York Times Magazine, and contributes a column on food history to Food & Wine magazine. In addition to Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, he is the author of A Continent of Islands: Searching for the Caribbean Destiny, A Chosen Few: The Resurrection of European Jewry, The Basque History of the World, and Salt: A World History. He lives in New York City.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, NY
Date of Birth:
December 7, 1948
Place of Birth:
Hartford, CT
Education:
Butler University, B.A. in Theater, 1970

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Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
knittingnancy More than 1 year ago
I am old enough to remember my Norwegian immigrand grandparents, talk about codfish like was indeed, delivered to the virtuous directly from the hand of God. I recall seeing these fish, longer than my fathers' arm, displayed on crushed ice in the markets of Reykjavik in the early 70's. I also recall how upsetting it was to hear that the Canadians had place a ban on fishing cod on the Grand Banks in 1992, due to the threat of potential collapse of the cod biomass in the Atlantic. This is a quick and breezy ode to the North Atlantic species venerated by most of the world's population. Sprinkled with WONDERFUL recipies, it should appeal to those interested in cooking great simple food like grandma made, and enviornmentalists concerned with the failures of bad regulatory policy. The writing is engaging. Even if you are not thrilled with the prospect of a cod fish dinner, everyone interested on continuing to live here on earth should to try to understand how humans need to mitigate the past the destruction of all of earth's bounty. My husband is an often "commercial" fisherman. My stepson is trying to earn a living in the same profession, and watching the government attempts at stewardship of American territorial waters is like watching a Shakespearian tragedy from the stage wings. Even if you know the outcome of the story, you still weep. I'd like to know that one day, my great granchildren will be able to enjoy a fine cod fish dinner on Christmas Eve.
SMILINBILL More than 1 year ago
Fascinating Read.!!! Absolutely wonderful book about this Historic and Significant FISH. Would sincerely recommend this as a very interesting account of a fishery we all have taken for granted.
GBSfan More than 1 year ago
Who knew what an impact one species of fish could have on the history of the world? But impact it, cod certainly has. From England to Iceland to Newfoundland, Spain, the US and Scandinavia, cod figured prominently over the several hundred years. What could have been a very dry read was made quite compelling by Kurlansky. He included the politics, the biology, the economics and the environmental impact while always remembering the humanity that depends on the sea for their livelihood. Kurlansky also nicely ties in the topic of another of his books, "Salt". Seems that cod could not have become such a staple around the world without it. A short, but information packed book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She woke to burn on her wrists. "Wha-!," was all she could make through the gag tied around her neck. Straining against the tight ropes, she realizes she was na<_>ked...A call put for help was transformed to a strange grunting sound. Her chest, and limbs were in pain, skin burning at the friction. Her mind races, and it hit her in the face. Hard. She was up for se<_>x.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
On
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know you said preferably females, but will you accept a guy?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
K )) Lilly looked around wildly scared as hell. She struggled agenstert her ties face wet. As she tried to remov the bands on her feet and wrists their plastic cutting into her skin. She growled stupidly as she left befire gettin taken to leave her pocket knife at home. She growled eyes and cheeks wet. As she lookedup every few seconds hoping cody wont try to contain her again.
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Alex1047 More than 1 year ago
This book may seem to be focused on the significance of cod in history but it goes much beyond that to encompass a broader, richly detailed history of humanity with cod at its central focus. In a way the book isn't a narrative just about cod, but of the contributions that have been made possible in large part due to cod. Highly recommended
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Laenaya More than 1 year ago
Read this book for an anthropology class and it is wonderful. It ties together a variety of cultures and their use of cod and gives it a historical perspective. Very interesting.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting book - full of surprising historical detail. The story of cod might seem a little bland - but the book grabs the reader from thie first pages. Thought provoking.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was an excellent book, and i loved it. The last 30 pages are just recipies though.
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