Cod by Mark Kurlansky
A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World

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From the Bestselling Author of Salt and The Basque History of the World

Cod, Mark Kurlansky’s third work of nonfiction and winner of the 1999 James Beard Award, 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?
 
“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
 
“One of the 25 Best Books of the Year.” –The New York Public Library

Mark Kurlansky is the author of many books including Salt, The Basque History of the World, 1968, and The Big Oyster. His newest book is Birdseye.
 

About Mark Kurlansky

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Mark Kurlansky is an award-winning and bestselling author. His most recent book is 1968: The Year That Rocked the World.
 
Published July 1, 1998 by Penguin Books. 306 pages
Genres: Computers & Technology, Nature & Wildlife, Cooking, Science & Math, Business & Economics, History, Biographies & Memoirs, Sports & Outdoors, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Education & Reference, Children's Books. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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An awesome introduction for young readers to the Atlantic codfish by the author of the bestselling adult title, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World (1997).

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Kirkus Reviews

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The author explains how a cod run could determine an entire regional economy and how salt cod figured in slave trading.

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Publishers Weekly

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No fish story, this is a sapient and vivid chronology of the immense impact and influence the cod fishing industry has had on the human race.

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Publishers Weekly

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In this concise and informative adaptation of his book for adults, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, Kurlansky traces the role that the once plentiful Atlantic cod has played in the history of North America and Europe.

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Publishers Weekly

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No fish story, this is a sapient and vivid chronology of the immense impact and influence the cod fishing industry has had on the human race. The cod fish has played a major role in the economics, sus

Jun 02 1997 | Read Full Review of Cod: A Biography of the Fish ...

Gather Books

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May 11 2007 | Read Full Review of Cod: A Biography of the Fish ...

London Review of Books

Admittedly, that was no longer true in the 19th century, but, according to Alexandre Dumas in 1873, ‘calculations’ proved that ‘if no accident prevented the hatching of the eggs, and if each cod grew to its full size, it would take only three years for the sea to be full of cod, so that one could...

Oct 11 2012 | Read Full Review of Cod: A Biography of the Fish ...

Smithsonian

They also had a secret source: by the year 1000, the Basques were supplying a vast international market in cod, based on their fishing fleet's surreptitious voyages across the Atlantic to North America's fishing banks, a cod cornucopia about which they kept mum.

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