Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (Paperback)

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World By Mark Kurlansky Cover Image

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (Paperback)

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“A charming fish tale and a pretty gift for your favorite seafood cook or fishing monomaniac. But in the last analysis, it’s a bitter ecological fable for our time.” –Los Angeles Times

An unexpected, energetic look at world history via the humble cod fish from the bestselling author of Salt and The Basque History of the World

Cod
is the biography of a single species of fish, but it may as well be a world history with this humble fish as its recurring main character. 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. As we make our way through the centuries of cod history, we also find a delicious legacy of recipes, and the tragic story of environmental failure, of depleted fishing stocks where once their numbers were legendary. In this lovely, thoughtful history, Mark Kurlansky ponders the question: Is the fish that changed the world forever changed by the world's folly?

“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
Mark Kurlansky was born in Hartford, Connecticut. After receiving a BA in Theater from Butler University in 1970—and refusing to serve in the military—Kurlansky worked in New York as a playwright, having a number of off-off Broadway productions, and as a playwright-in-residence at Brooklyn College. He has worked many other jobs, including as a commercial fisherman, a dock worker, a paralegal, a cook, and a pastry chef. In the mid-1970s he turned to journalism, and from 1976 to 1991 he worked as a foreign correspondent for The International Herald Tribune, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Based in Paris and then Mexico, he reported on Europe, West Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America, Latin America, and the Caribbean. His articles have appeared in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Miami Herald, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, Time, The New York Times and many more. He has had 35 books published including fiction, nonfiction, and children's books. His books include Havana, Cod, Salt, Paper, The Basque History of the World, 1968, The Big Oyster, among other titles. He has received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Bon Appetit’s Food Writer of the Year Award, the James Beard Award, and the Glenfiddich Award. He lives in New York City.


Product Details ISBN: 9780140275018
ISBN-10: 0140275010
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: July 1st, 1998
Pages: 304
Language: English
James Beard Award Winner

"This eminently readable book is a new tool for scanning world history. It leads to a vastly different perception of why folks did what they did... history filtered through the gills of the fish trade." -- The New York Times

“A charming fish tale and a pretty gift for your favorite seafood cook or fishing monomaniac. But in the last analysis, it’s a bitter ecological fable for our time.” Los Angeles Times

“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, author of 1776, John Adams, and The Wright Brothers

“One of the 25 Best Books of the Year.” The New York Public Library

"A subject as mighty and tragic as this deserves an excellent biographer, and in Mark Kurlansky, cod has found one. Beautifully written and elegantly illustrated . . . Kurlansky's marvelous 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." -The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

"In the end the book stands as a kind of elegy, a loving eulogy not only to a fish, but to the people whose lives have been shaped by the habits of the fish, and whose way of life is now at an end." -Newsday

"What a prodigious creature is the cod. Kurlansky's approach is intriguing - and deceptively whimsical. This little book is a work of no small consequence." -Business Week

"In the story of the cod, Mark Kurlansky has found the tragic fable of our age - abundance turned to scarcity through determined shortsightedness. This classic history will stand as an epitaph and a warning." -Bill McKibben

"This is an extraordinary little book, unputdownable, written in the most lyrical, flowing style which paints vivid pictures and, at the same time, punches into place hard facts that stop you dead in your tracks. Who would ever think that a book on cod would make a compulsive read? And yet this is precisely what Kurlansky has done "-- Sir Roy Strong ― Express on Sunday (London)

"An engrossing and timely little epic" Scotsman (Edinburgh)

"To go out and buy a book on the subject (of cod) is to invite glances of suspicion. While a few eccentrics might think this is a good reason to purchase several copies, for the rest of us it requires a certain leap of faith. Cod...amply rewards such a leap. It is compact and beautifully produced"― Mail on Sunday (London)

"Refreshing and invigorating, full of fascinating facts"Independent on Sunday (London)