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Cod

A Biography Of The Fish That Changed The World

by Mark Kurlansky

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list price: $22.00
edition:Paperback
category: History
published: 1998
ISBN:9780676971118
publisher: Knopf Canada
imprint: Vintage Canada
Description

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.

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Contributor notes

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.

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Editorial Review

"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

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