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Salt: A World History

Salt A World History From the award winning and bestselling author of Cod comes the dramatic human story of a simple substance an element almost as vital as water that has created fortunes provoked revolutions direct

  • Title: Salt: A World History
  • Author: Mark Kurlansky
  • ISBN: 9780676975352
  • Page: 481
  • Format: Paperback
  • From the award winning and bestselling author of Cod comes the dramatic, human story of a simple substance, an element almost as vital as water, that has created fortunes, provoked revolutions, directed economies and enlivened our recipes.Salt is common, easy to obtain and inexpensive It is the stuff of kitchens and cooking Yet trade routes were established, alliances buFrom the award winning and bestselling author of Cod comes the dramatic, human story of a simple substance, an element almost as vital as water, that has created fortunes, provoked revolutions, directed economies and enlivened our recipes.Salt is common, easy to obtain and inexpensive It is the stuff of kitchens and cooking Yet trade routes were established, alliances built and empires secured all for something that filled the oceans, bubbled up from springs, formed crusts in lake beds, and thickly veined a large part of the Earth s rock fairly close to the surface From pre history until just a century ago when the mysteries of salt were revealed by modern chemistry and geology no one knew that salt was virtually everywhere Accordingly, it was one of the most sought after commodities in human history Even today, salt is a major industry Canada, Kurlansky tells us, is the world s sixth largest salt producer, with salt works in Ontario playing a major role in satisfying the Americans insatiable demand.As he did in his highly acclaimed Cod, Mark Kurlansky once again illuminates the big picture by focusing on one seemingly modest detail In the process, the world is revealed as never before.From the Hardcover edition.

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    1 thought on “Salt: A World History

    1. I was very non-plussed by this book. Kurlansky does not do a very good job of presenting his topic. In my opinion he was just throwing out about any facts he could find about salt. In a way he ties it together. He discusses how ancient Chinese used salt; how northern Europeans used salt; how salt was mined; etc. I got that salt is a major natural resource that is the basis for cuisine and culture throughout the world, but I was still asking myself the question, "And?" Kurlansky left me wondering [...]

    2. I read several chapters of this. It was mind-numbingly boring. Lists, lists, lists of everything that has ever been done with salt. What different countries, cultures and times have done with salt. The word salt in many different languages. That old thing about salary being the precious salt that the Romans paid their military in, right. I was praying for a relief from the tedium of this book. But all I got was the odd not-at-all interesting anecdote. I don't know how the rest of the book progre [...]

    3. Chris Lavers started his review of this book for the Guardian with speculation on how an author can get released from publisher’s contract. The publisher receives priority by including a “first refusal” clause on a second book. You merely present your publisher with stunningly unappealing material. If they choose not to publish, then you are free to go elsewhere. A history of salt should work.Mostly, a foodie history with emphasis on the historical importance of salt for food preservation. [...]

    4. عثرت على هذا الكتاب فى سور الازبكية يوم السبت الماضى فى معرض الكتاب واشتريته بخمسة جنيهات بعدما ترددت فى شرائه فقد قرأت مقدمته ثم تركته وذهبت ولم يطاوعنى قلبى فعدت اليه مرة اخرى فاشتريته ، هو عن تاريخ الملح تلك المادة البلورية البيضاء التى لها لون الثلج التى نستحدمها فى المط [...]

    5. This book changed my life. I picked it up because fiction novels were all looking the same to me, and because it was thick enough to last the long train ride from Dusseldorf to Maastricht. School textbooks were the only non-fiction I'd ever read, and they had not prepared me for the vibrant and engaging writing found in Salt. Since reading this book I have become a devoted fan of non-fiction writing, which has exposed me to a whole new world of literature.

    6. This was the first so-called "commodity history" that I've read, and I'm sorry to say it might have turned me completely off the damn things. I'm not entirely sure why this book is so popular and so widely read, since it strikes me as simply a series of stories by Mark Kurlansky that quickly settle into the same basic mantra, which is: 1) Here is this culture; 2) Like the twenty other cultures I have just introduced to you, salt was also important to this culture; 3) These are the ways they gath [...]

    7. Well, I'll be pickled! We say we'll take something with a grain of salt as if it's nothing, but much of the history of the world is tied up in the quest for salt. It's not nothing. We're fortunate to have it in such abundance that we can take it for granted and worry about getting too much of it in our diets. For most of human existence that was not the case. The material here is thorough and often fascinating, but you must have a strong interest in history if you hope to get through it. Had I t [...]

    8. Mark Kurlansky is a historical writer who does what one reviewer referred to as the “little-big” style of writing, that is to say, he takes something little and often overlooked and from it he spins out larger truths about society and the world. To say that he does this well would be an understatement.Salt: A World History, his fascinating history of this overlooked cooking seasoning, makes a couple very good points in its introduction. Because of its current cheapness and easy availability, [...]

    9. I very much enjoyed this book on world history, roled like a ball of yarn around the role salt played in this history. I think that different readers will enjoy different aspects of the book. There is something for everyone. I particularly enjoyed the sections on Chinese ancient history, on French salt production on Noirmoutier and Ile de Ré and also the perspective of how French salt taxes (gabelle) influenced the French revolution. This was interesting becuase other books stress the role of t [...]

    10. AIYIYI I just couldn't take this book. I was determined to read it after I chose it for a challenge I had entered but my goodness was it a struggle. I don't know if it was because I had just finished a textbook size of a book that was purely about science (A Short History of Nearly Everything) and was in major fiction withdrawal, or the fact that this book was breathtakingly boring, but I could literally not read more than 15 pages before I actually started to drift off into a deep slumber. I ha [...]

    11. While certainly an interesting and often entertaining read, with many historic details I had never heard before, this book is seriously flawed in several ways.It has a bibliography, but no footnotes or endnotes. Given that on those subjects that I had detailed pre-knowledge, I found details that were misinterpreted, glossed over, or just plain wrong, I can only assume the same is true for the subjects I didn't know about before reading this book. But without detailed endnotes (which a book of th [...]

    12. This is based upon the audio download from [Audible]Narrated by: Scott BrickThe legendary pipes of Scott Brick did little to enhance this biography of the ubiquity of salt. The book is a curate’s egg—there are dull parts but there are also some very interesting parts. I didn't think it possible to have someone talk about salt for 13 hours and 43 minutes but it was.The book begins with facts about salt and the sharing of some of the salt industry’s 14,000 uses for salt. It was interesting t [...]

    13. You know you're a writing tutor when you fantasize about conversing with the author over his organization strategies.No, seriously. I had an entire dialog in my head about it. How did you organize this book? Does each section have a main concept or idea? Does every chapter and/or paragraph help move towards this idea? Can you find any that don't? Let's read through some of these paragraphs together and you can tell me where you think something might be tangential to the main idea.This book meand [...]

    14. I hate to give this a 3/5 I really do. I cannot tell you how many times I picked up and put down this book in stores across the nation. maybe that should have been my sign.Don't boo me, but this was dry. There were sections that were legitimately interesting, but there were sections that just needed more editing, they needed to be trimmed down. Also, I dont know how I would personally fix this, but the layout of the book seemed to need changed. It was largely geographically based, so then large [...]

    15. The history of salt is super interesting, and I learned a lot of amazing facts about human history from reading this book, BUT the editing was pretty bad. I mean, it has to be pretty bad for you to actually notice that a book is really poorly written. Chapters would end out of nowhere, there were tons of non-sequiturs, etc. It got progressively worse as I got through the book- and then towards the end it became an advertisement for Mortons Salt. I'd recommend this book from a library, but not fo [...]

    16. What a book! As I was reading it, I wavered between "this is so dense with facts and boring" to "this is sooo interesting." Well, it's both. There were parts that I skimmed over and parts that made me share them immediately. I would want to stop reading then would come to a part about either a place I've visited or a know about from some reason or other, and then I'd be drawn back into the book. I learned a lot, that's for sure. The part dealing with chemistry interested me a great deal. I was s [...]

    17. I think this book should have been called Salt: It's Dry. I'm about 25% through it and I'm throwing in the towel (and possibly tossing salt over my shoulder for luck). There was just nothing about the writing or the information presented that was even mildly interesting. Moving on

    18. the author read everything there is to read about salt. then he relentlessly put every bit of it in this book. you will wish for the end waay before you get there, i promise.

    19. A beautiful exploration into the role this substance has played in the human grand narrative. The first two thirds were very informative and interesting, but it wasn't until I got to the section about India that I was totally enthralled. The story of how Ghandi used the British imposed salt laws, and his disobedience of them, to gain freedom for his country was truly riveting. I can't help but draw parallels between this story and other moments in history. It's long been a fact that civic rebell [...]

    20. This book was completely fascinating! Sure, human population didn't really take off until we started staying put in one place and domesticating animals and crops, but what do you think preserved those food staples? Salt! Salt didn't just play a role with how we preserve food, but entire wars and civilizations rose and fell due (in part) to their hold on salt. Seriously! Venice became a huge European powerhouse in the middle ages because of their saltworks, and I learned that salt even played a p [...]

    21. This book is about so much more than salt. A friend asked me what I was listening oo while listening to this one and they thought it sounded like an absurd thing to read about. I'm inclined to believe that many people might turn away from this book based on that fact, but I found it to be chalked full of so many interesting facts from some of the earliest history.I found all the information presented in the book a little overwhelming at times and I do believe I would have given it 5 stars had I [...]

    22. This is my most-favorite non-fiction book. I find it fascinating and enjoy something new every time I read or listen to it.

    23. This audiobook was a real slog. At almost 14 hours long, I had to speed it up to 1.5 speed to get through it. Of course it's my own fault for imagining a book this long about salt could be engaging. Nonetheless there were some interesting factoids I collected. There were fights centuries ago in England when people's land started caving in when salt brine was extracted from subterranean levels. At the time if I got this right, people actually retained the rights to what was under their land. But [...]

    24. Lots of really interesting information, but so, so, so dry. So many recipes I don't really need to know all the different ways people first created fish sauce, maybe just tell me the important ones. Might try this one in audiobook form at a different time.

    25. While I do think that the stories could've been better tied together, the book presented salt in a new way for me. Plus, the old-school recipes were really interesting, if a little gross.

    26. Whew! Salt. Almost 500 pages of salt. This one took me a bit to get through. I did learn a lot. However, more than once I glazed over and found myself thinking about things other than salt. Like how thirsty I was. Or do we have potato chips in the house? Oh, maybe we have tequila and lime! And so on down the rabbit hole. It turns out that salt taxation details, mining methods, and in depth brining and curing techniques throughout history aren't as riveting as one would think. I do wish there was [...]

    27. For a guy who literally looks like the Dos Equis man, Mark Kurlansky has managed to find some of the least interesting subject matter I could imagine and turn them into full histories. Whether it's salt (this one), cod (1988), oysters (2005), or the Basques (1991)well, okay. A history of the Basques sounds like it has some potential.My point is: Kurlansky seems to look around for the driest subjects and then to begin to research the heck out of it. And yes, he really does look like the Dos Equi [...]

    28. I have tried to digest this book called Salt, especially as a food reviewer, and a history buff in training, but I think I will throw it over my left shoulder as I can't get past the taste of the endless first chapter on ancient Asian governments.The book is pretty well written and full of great pictures and interesting salty tid-bits, but maybe its a bit too ambitious to try to tell the history of the world through a pure salt perspective?!The value of the mineral, and the elaborate way it was [...]

    29. Previously read Sept 2003 - Checked this out from the library on the recommendation of Carla IreneThe title is pretty self-explanatory: the book discusses how salt was accessed, processed, sold and used from ancient times through today. I was pleased to see non-European cultures were included - especially since China and India have had such a rich history entwined with this essential mineral. However, I would have liked to see more info about North & South America and sub-Saharan Africa, and [...]

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