'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 have depended on it. To the millions it has sustained, it has been a treasure more precious that gold. This book spans 1,000 years and four continents. From the Vikings to Clarence Birdseye, Mark Kurlansky introduces the explorers, merchants, writers, chefs and fisherman, whose lives have been interwoven with this prolific fish. He chronicles the cod wars of the 16th and 20th centuries. He blends in recipes and lore from the Middle Ages to the present. In a story that brings world history and human passions into captivating focus, he shows how the most profitable fish in history is today faced with extinction.
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, sustainability and diplomacy of many countries and societies throughout history, explains Kurlansky (A Continent of Islands). Kurlansky effectively weaves philosophical thought with facts and vignettes on the history of the various cod fishing enterprises that have emerged and faded through the ages. Wars over fishing territories and rights have plagued cod fishing ever since humans took to the sea, and Kurlansky traces these hostilities through short history lessons that are easily absorbed and understood. Personal quotes and cod recipes from slaves, kings, diplomats, fisherman and noted scholars such as Thoreau and Kipling cast a glistening view of the grasp this fishing industry had on society. The book's final section, "A Cook's Tale: Six Centuries of Cod Recipes" describes the use and preparation of cod from the days of the Vikings through the 1900s. Complete with a detailed bibliography, this remarkable and informative volume should net any number of happy readers. Illustrations. Rights: Charlotte Sheedy.