- Age Range: 18 and up
- Grade Level: 09 - 12
- Lexile Measure: 1200L (What's this?)
- Paperback: 294 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (July 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140275010
- ISBN-13: 978-0140275018
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 343 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World 1st Edition
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You probably enjoy eating codfish, but reading about them? Mark Kurlansky has written a fabulous book--well worth your time--about a fish that probably has mattered more in human history than any other. The cod helped inspire the discovery and exploration of North America. It had a profound impact upon the economic development of New England and eastern Canada from the earliest times. Today, however, overfishing is a constant threat. Kurlansky sprinkles his well-written and occasionally humorous history with interesting asides on the possible origin of the word codpiece and dozens of fish recipes. Sometimes a book on an offbeat or neglected subject really makes the grade. This is one of them. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
From Library Journal
In this New York Times best seller, Kurlansky gets us to look at the lowly cod in a whole new light. Search for the lucrative codfish played a key role in the development of the New World. Britain allowed the Colonies to trade with third parties-a milestone on the road to independence-due to a superabundance of cod. We also hear about the evolution of fishing technology that is so successful that cod have come close to extinction and the effect of the 200-mile limit. Moreover, the author relates marvelous Basque, French, British, and New England cod recipes from the last 500 years. Richard Davidson narrates this exceptionally informative and entertaining work.
James L. Dudley, Westhampton, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top customer reviews
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Kurlansky relooks recent history from the perspective of the pursuit of Atlantic cod, a once unbelievably prolific species overfished into near oblivion. Kurlansky traces the fishing history from multiple perspectives, including that of the Basque, who may have been fishing for abundant cod off Newfoundland even before Columbus "discovered" the New World. The Basque were followed by the French, the Spanish, the Portuguese, the English, and the Americans; the cod catch fed populations on both sides of the Atlantic. The overfishing led to the present state of the fishing fleet of Gloucester, Massachusetts, all but shut down by restrictions intended to save remaining cod stocks, a situation shared by fellow fishermen in Newfoundland.
Kurlansky's narrative moves back and forth between the past and the present, as cod fuels the economic growth of colonial New England and eastern Canada, but dwindles in the present. The author closes each chapter with a selection of historical recipes for cooking cod, which should be quite interesting to the seafood cooks in the audience. He successfully mines what could have been a mundane topic for lots of human interest angles, and a possibly prophetic look at the future of wild fish harvesting, a future still in doubt when Kurlansky closed out his book. "Cod" is very highly recommended to readers with an interest in the fish and the industry.
However, this book is not just a history of cod. It has an agenda, admittedly a good one, to protect the cod of the northern Atlantic. I'm all for that, but I didn't read this book to be convinced of that. The entire last chapter is essentially an emotional sob story of former cod fisherman, unable to do the work of their forefathers. Kudos to Kurlansky for that, but it felt like it belonged in a newspaper op-ed page, not a historical work.
Aside from that, there are also a couple chapters that were a bit tough to get through, which may not be Kurlansky's fault, but perhaps of the subject itself. It's a small book and only took a couple days to get through, but unless this is a topic that immediately strikes your fancy, you might not finish it. But for any chef or history buff, I would still recommend this book, as it offers some pretty critical insight into a fish that really did change the world.
That said, this book gives tantalizing views of one of mankind's toughest and most dangerous industries - fishing. The reader may well appreciate the juxtaposition of gritty cod town life and the movement of nations in search of this most perfect food source. The book moves along quickly.