By Mark Kurlansky,

Book cover of Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World

Book description

'Who would ever think that a book on cod would make a compulsive read? And yet this is precisely what Kurlansky has done' Express on Sunday

The Cod. Wars have been fought over it, revolutions have been triggered by it, national diets have been based on it, economies and livelihoods…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Cod as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The North Atlantic between Iceland and Canada once teemed with cod. That rich fishery is what lured Europeans across the Atlantic in the first place, starting with the Vikings. And salt curing of the fish – a method perfected by medieval Basque whalers is what made those long voyages possible. By the mid-sixteenth century, 60 percent of all fish eaten in Europe was cod. It soon would be a staple of new world diets – and one of the pleasures of the book are the cod recipes across the centuries. Above all, I appreciate how Kurlansky makes us care…

I must admit that the story of a fish, and humans fishing it, smelled off to me, as did the idea that the book included recipes I’d be unlikely to ever follow. But this is a brilliant book, a fascinating fresh perspective not restricted to information about fisheries, but concerning broader questions of human impact, resource management, and sustainability. Along the way, the reader learns many astonishing facts, such as how the Basques, even before Columbus, used the shores of America to salt and dry their catch, but kept the source of their supply a trade secret.

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