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Salt: A World History

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From the Bestselling Author of Cod and The Basque History of the World In his fifth work of nonfiction, Mark Kurlansky turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substanc From the Bestselling Author of Cod and The Basque History of the World In his fifth work of nonfiction, Mark Kurlansky turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions.  Populated by colorful characters and filled with an unending series of fascinating details, Salt by Mark Kurlansky is a supremely entertaining, multi-layered masterpiece. Mark Kurlansky is the author of many books including Cod, The Basque History of the World, 1968, and The Big Oyster. His newest book is Birdseye.


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From the Bestselling Author of Cod and The Basque History of the World In his fifth work of nonfiction, Mark Kurlansky turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substanc From the Bestselling Author of Cod and The Basque History of the World In his fifth work of nonfiction, Mark Kurlansky turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions.  Populated by colorful characters and filled with an unending series of fascinating details, Salt by Mark Kurlansky is a supremely entertaining, multi-layered masterpiece. Mark Kurlansky is the author of many books including Cod, The Basque History of the World, 1968, and The Big Oyster. His newest book is Birdseye.

30 review for Salt: A World History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Chris Lavers started his review of this book for the Guardian with speculation on how an author can get released from publisher’s contract. The publisher receives priority by including a “first refusal” clause on a second book. You merely present your publisher with stunningly unappealing material. If they choose not to publish, then you are free to go elsewhere. A history of salt should work. Mostly, a foodie history with emphasis on the historical importance of salt for food preservation. There Chris Lavers started his review of this book for the Guardian with speculation on how an author can get released from publisher’s contract. The publisher receives priority by including a “first refusal” clause on a second book. You merely present your publisher with stunningly unappealing material. If they choose not to publish, then you are free to go elsewhere. A history of salt should work. Mostly, a foodie history with emphasis on the historical importance of salt for food preservation. There is some discussion of industrial uses like embalming in Egypt and other parts of Africa. The sections about cod and Basque fishing were familiar from reading Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World and The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation. Until the first invention by a Paris cook, Nicolas Appert, the “Father of Canning,” most food preservation was salt. The Vitamin C in sauerkraut made it possible for early sailors to avoid scurvy. Appert canning jar More sophisticated canning of fish and vegetables followed. Cold preservation and Clarence Birdseye, founder of the frozen food industry were not far behind. In 1928 Birdseye found a buyer for his company and fast freezing method, it became General Foods. But, until these relatively recent events, salt was a vital part of the economy. There were salt laws, salt taxes, and salt merchants. I learned a lot about the magical properties of salt, well the beliefs and customs in its magic. Salt protects against the evil eye according to both Jews and Muslims. Remember rubbing the newborn infants with salt from the Book of Ezekial 16:4. Sprinkle salt on the stage in traditional Japanese theater to protect against evil. Anglo-Saxon farmers used salt on the plow when invoking the earth goddess for a good harvest. Romans called a man in love salax, in a salted state, the origin of the word salacious. In the Pyrenees, bridal couples went to church with salt in their left pockets to guard against impotence. In some parts of France, only the groom carried salt, in others only the bride. In Germany, the bride’s shoes were sprinkled with salt. An 1157 Paris engraving titled Women Salting Their Husbands demonstrated how to make your man more virile. The last line of an accompanying poem reads, “With salting, front and back, At last strong natures they will not lack.” Bibliothèque Nationale From early history the West African silent barter reported by Herodotus and the ancient salt well of Shaanxi and Sichuan to the 1901 salt dome drilling of Spindletop which redefined the terms drill rig and well to mean oil, not salt. It's all here not too briny, just savory sample. A crowd gathers to watch a side gusher on Spindletop hill in Beaumont, Texas which was the site of the first Texas oil gusher, 10 January 1901. (Photo by the Texas Energy Museum/Newsmakers) https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DDQef7UVw... Spindletop by 1902 *************************************************** https://www.theguardian.com/books/200...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Petra X

    I read several chapters of this. It was mind-numbingly boring. Lists, lists, lists of everything that has ever been done with salt. What different countries, cultures and times have done with salt. The word salt in many different languages. That old thing about salary being the precious salt that the Romans paid their military in, right. I was praying for a relief from the tedium of this book. But all I got was the odd not-at-all interesting anecdote. I don't know how the rest of the book progre I read several chapters of this. It was mind-numbingly boring. Lists, lists, lists of everything that has ever been done with salt. What different countries, cultures and times have done with salt. The word salt in many different languages. That old thing about salary being the precious salt that the Romans paid their military in, right. I was praying for a relief from the tedium of this book. But all I got was the odd not-at-all interesting anecdote. I don't know how the rest of the book progressed but I don't care either. This was about as interesting as reading the long list of all the ingredients in a box of Twinkies where you can't pronounce half of them, have never heard of the rest and are only reading it because there isn't anything else to read. (Like you do cereal boxes or the ketchup bottle). That said, the book Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats was actually very interesting. If Steve Ettlinger could make that interesting, I don't see why Kurlansky failed so utterly with Salt. But he did, at least for me. A lot of Kurlansky's other books sound very appealing, but I'm wary now...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Let them eat salt! Literally, let everyone do so, as we all need a (moderate) dose of it. Such is one of the early discoveries in Mark Kurlansky’s biography of salt and how it shaped the world. Kurlansky uses his attention to detail and ability to entertain the curious reader in this book that explores much of how salt came to be found on most tables around the world, as well as some of the key customs and traditions that have lasted for centuries, if not millennia. The book places salt’s import Let them eat salt! Literally, let everyone do so, as we all need a (moderate) dose of it. Such is one of the early discoveries in Mark Kurlansky’s biography of salt and how it shaped the world. Kurlansky uses his attention to detail and ability to entertain the curious reader in this book that explores much of how salt came to be found on most tables around the world, as well as some of the key customs and traditions that have lasted for centuries, if not millennia. The book places salt’s importance in three distinct categories throughout history, which Kurlansky develops effectively. Salt is most easily seen as a part of food/cooking, but also an important business over time, and finally a key political commodity throughout documented history. By viewing salt through these three lenses, the reader can better understand and respect how powerful and integral those small grains (or large rocks) have been to shaping the world in which we live. Interested and open-minded readers will enjoy this highly educational biography on what might seem a random and somewhat bland topic (pun intended). I challenge anyone who has the time to step outside the box and see if it’s to your taste. It is worth mentioning that, while Kurlansky does make mention of many forms of salt through the narrative, the significant portion of the book relates to sodium chloride (NaCl), common table salt. This product is surely both a quintessential part of human function, but also found in most foods, either in core ingredients or added in preparation. Kurlansky discusses how the Chinese were some of the first to document their use of salt to create new staples in the country, namely soy sauce, which involves a fermentation process that salt helps spark. Salt has the sensational ability to pull moisture from items and create a brine that cures them in new and exciting ways, thinking of such things as picked cucumbers, meats, or even eggs. Salt as a preserving agent proved to be central to the success of permitting foods to be kept for longer periods, be it meats hunted to last throughout the winter or fish caught on the far side of the world to endure the journey back. Kurlansky briefly explores the importance that salt and cod played as teammates to bring the fish from the seaside communities to the islands and across the Atlantic (which is extrapolated in his book about the history of cod, another good read), thereby feeding the masses who could not fish themselves. Salt’s preserving ability also serve the rich well in keeping their wines before the discovery of bottling corks, where a sprinkling in the wine not only kept it fresh, but added an interesting flavour. Kurlansky mentions throughout that salt’s addition to items to keep them edible led to numerous accidental creations that we take for granted now. Sauerkraut, long deemed (by me, at least) to be a Germanic invention has some of its earliest documented findings in China, where packing cabbage in brine within barrels that previously held fermented items led to this delicacy that the likes of Marie Antoinette could not get enough of, up to the day of her death. I also came to learn that corned beef has nothing to do with corn, but embedded salt (a corned substance being one that has bits of another item embedded within it) that seeps in and creates an interesting flavour. That humans need salt is not in question, though Kurlansky does admit that salt intake is much higher now than in times of old and that sodium levels far exceed the recommended amount. I suppose we’re well preserved for years to come, allowing us to work well into old age. While there is no doubt that salt helped feed the masses, it had to come from somewhere to make it onto tables or into the foods that were consumed. Salt was surely a lucrative and profit-rich business, according to Kurlansky, and anyone could do it on a small scale. However, large salt deposits could be handled in various ways by different companies. The first and most profitable type of business was brine ponds, used primarily for medicinal purposes. Those seeking to cure what ails them could turn to a soak in one of these ponds, usual naturally warm, and find much success. Those areas of the world able to procure the development of these ponds and keep them from drying out would see significant profits. There were other areas that used larger bodies of salt water to procure the salt needed for preserving food or making its way to the table. By creating man-made smaller basins and using the sun as a means of evaporating the water, large salt deposits remained, which could then be sold on the market. New England and parts of the Nordic countries were able to profit significantly through this method, which was sometimes paired with their cod stocks to create salted cod to sell on the world market, providing financial stability for the region. As Kurlansky discusses throughout the book, various groups were able to perfect the salt extraction method long before large machines or complex piping entered the scene. He does stress in the latter portion of the book that the lost art of salt retrieval, once passed from generation to generation, is all but lost in an era where massive factories can produce and sell salt at a discounted rate. The selling or trading of salt on the open market promised to be just as lucrative. Supply and demand would surely enter the discussion here, as would regions able to boost their economic situations by exporting salt to those in need. Kurlansky does have an interesting take on this, which I will discuss below, but there is no doubt that profits played a huge part in the salt business. Of note, salt was a significant factor in influencing Joseph Smith and Brigham Young in where they might choose to settle, away from the eyes of the majority of the American population in the mid-19th century. Looking for fertile and self-sustaining land, Young found a spot close to... yep, a ‘salt lake’, where he developed the Mormon Church and eventually helped forge Utah’s Salt Lake City. Food and business (and even religious settlements) help pave the way to a discussion of the politics of salt. As with most things in life, if there is a crack left open (or space between crystals, in this case), politics will seep in. The politics of salt are far-reaching and have significant impact since documented history began. Kurlansky discusses the Chinese in the millennia before the Common Era not only capitalising on salt in the region, but regulating its use and distribution across the empire. Perhaps a sign of things to come, rulers and governments sought to control who could have what, when, and how much, though there was no sense of equality. Far be it from me to inject economic terms here, but regulation most certainly led to a dilution of the free-market economies of these areas, where the capable could profit based on their vested time and interest. Equally interesting, there is a discussion of the British suppressing their Indian subjects prior to the country’s independence. Mahatma Gandhi fought the British ban on local procuring and selling of salt, feeling that the people had a right to work for themselves without being suppressed. It worked, though not until after much struggle and bloodshed. Kurlansky makes an interesting observation throughout the book, that one could always predict that war was on the horizon when militaries began procuring large amounts of salt. Campaigns of any length would require forethought and planning, as it was not always possible to predict the plentifulness of energy-rich foods. Salting products for long-term use was the key way of doing so, which took not only ingenuity, but also access to salt. In one example, Kurlansky uses the US Civil War, where some were sure Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Army was surely doomed, having no known salt reserves from which to pull. Salt as a political weapon, albeit one that cannot make you bleed (but definitely could cause one to squirm if it got into the wound, no?!). The political side of salt also served to create a significant have and have not duality, such that portions of the population or states facing one another were able to elevate prices and quantities to suit their own needs. As with many products, there is no way to completely balance distribution, though one can presume that it is greed that led to as much disparity on the world market, even with something as basic as salt. Put labour into the mix and politics cannot stay away, begging to regulate or comment on working conditions, hours, and rates of pay. Kurlansky stirs the pot throughout by sprinkling commentaries on these and many other political topics throughout the book, sure to keep the reader thinking. This is my third food-related biography by Kurlansky and I have not read one that has not completely floored me. The subject matter might seem bland or even off-putting, but take the time to explore what Kurlansky has to say and few will drift off from boredom. The detail Kurlansky takes in his writing seeks to educate and entertain in equal measure, while not drowning the reader in minutiae. Adding historical references and some anecdotes, the reader is taken on this journey and the points being made are further solidified as being fundamental. Kurlansky also shows an interesting habit that becomes apparent to those who have read many of his biographical pieces, pulling on pieces of research at just enough depth to make his point, but expounding on them in another tome. One can see this with his pieces on salt, cod, and milk, three that I have recently had the pleasure to devour. This interchange of ideas only furthers the hypothesis that everything is interconnected on some level, part of the larger lifeblood of the world in which we live. As with his other pieces, Kurlansky also brings the point home with related recipes embedded in the larger narrative. This personalises the subject matter and, for most, permits the reader to become actively involved in the topic at hand. Kurlansky’s books would not be complete without random pieces of knowledge, what I like to call ‘dinner party fodder’. I had no idea of salt’s presumed trait as a fertility agent or aphrodisiac. I suppose men of a more advanced age in centuries past would turn to a handful of salt rather than their coloured pill to boost their ‘shaker’, though, much like the modern pill, too much can lead to heart issues. Still, there is no end to the funny information I learn when Mark Kurlansky is in the driver’s seat. Take a whirl and spice up your life! Kudos, Mr. Kurlansky, for never ceasing to amaze me. I know so much more now than I ever thought I could have about common table salt. What may seem so simplistic is shown to be so very exciting, with your lighthearted writing. I look forward to reading more of your work in short order. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  4. 5 out of 5

    أَحْمَد

    عثرت على هذا الكتاب فى سور الازبكية يوم السبت الماضى فى معرض الكتاب واشتريته بخمسة جنيهات بعدما ترددت فى شرائه فقد قرأت مقدمته ثم تركته وذهبت ولم يطاوعنى قلبى فعدت اليه مرة اخرى فاشتريته ، ... هو عن تاريخ الملح ..تلك المادة البلورية البيضاء التى لها لون الثلج التى نستحدمها فى المطابخ وعلى موائد الطعام عدة مرات يوميا ً ..تلك المادة سريعة الذوبان التى لا يتخيل احد عدد الدول التى ' ذابت ' فى التاريخ من أجلها ..تلك المادة سهلة الضياع فى الماء .التى كانت سببا فى ضياع دماء الملايين من البشر من أجل الف عثرت على هذا الكتاب فى سور الازبكية يوم السبت الماضى فى معرض الكتاب واشتريته بخمسة جنيهات بعدما ترددت فى شرائه فقد قرأت مقدمته ثم تركته وذهبت ولم يطاوعنى قلبى فعدت اليه مرة اخرى فاشتريته ، ... هو عن تاريخ الملح ..تلك المادة البلورية البيضاء التى لها لون الثلج التى نستحدمها فى المطابخ وعلى موائد الطعام عدة مرات يوميا ً ..تلك المادة سريعة الذوبان التى لا يتخيل احد عدد الدول التى ' ذابت ' فى التاريخ من أجلها ..تلك المادة سهلة الضياع فى الماء .التى كانت سببا فى ضياع دماء الملايين من البشر من أجل الفوز بها " صورة مكبرة لحبيبات من الملح " كانوا قديماً عندما يريدون تعظيم شىء ما ومنحه الثناء والدلالة على أهميته يصفونه بأنه ' ملح الأرض ' أو ' ملح البلد ' أى كما أن الطعام يصبح ثقيلا كدرا ' ماسخا ' لا طعم له بدون الملح كذلك فإن الدنيا تصبح ماسخة ثقيلة كدرة بدون وجود ذاك الشخص الذى يدور حوله الكلام من هنا يمكن لها ان نفهم تلك العبارة الشهيرة التى وردت على لسان سفيان الثورى رحمه الله وهو يصف جمعاً من العلماء كان من عادة سفيان الثوري (97 - 161هـ) أن لا يُعَلّمُ أحدا العلم حتى يتعلم الأدب، ولو عشرين سنة! وكان يقول لطلاب العلم: «إذا فسد العلماء، فمن بقي في الدنيا يصلحهم؟ ثم ينشد قائلا: يا معشر العلماء يا ملح البلد ما يصلح الملح إذا الملح فسد؟!»...اى يا من وظيفتكم ان تعطوا للدنيا طعماً كما يفعل الملح مع الطعام..يامن مهمتهم حفظ عقول الناس وقلوبهم من أن يتسرب إليها العفن والتحلل كما يفعل الملح مع الطعام ..لو فسدتم من أين يتأتى الإصلاح ؟ حبيبات ملح بنية من جبال الهمالايا الكاتب يبدأ بتعريف الملح وطرق استخراجه (كشط البحيرات والشواطىء وتسخين ماء البحر وتبخيره ) وتركيبته الكيمائية ثم يعرج على أهميته فى الحضارات القديمة واستخداماته العديدة جدا والخرافات المرتبطة به التى حولته فى نظر القدماء إلى شىء أشبه بالسحر ثم يبدأ الكتاب بالكلام حول الصراعات التى دارت حول الملح ..حول الدول التى انهارت فى صراعات السيطرة على مصادر الملح وطرق تجارته .. فى خلال تاريخ الانسان الطويل على الارض ربما لم يرتبط وجوده بمادة كما حدث مع " كلوريد الصوديوم " = الملح , فمنذ ان عرف الانسان حياة الاستقرار لم يستطع ابداً ان يتخلى عن الملح وشكلت هذه المادة جزءا اساسياً من حياته ,فهو يحتاج اليها للطعام وتعويض الجسم بما يحتاجه من مواد اساسية تدخل فى تكوين الدم ثم فى مرحلة ثانية احتاج اليها لتخزين الطعام وحمايته من الفساد بدأ الامر من الصين , ففى الالف الاولى قبل الميلاد فى المناطق المجاورة لبحيرة "يوتشينج " دارت معارك كثيرة جداً للاستيلاء والسيطرة على أقدم مصنع معروف فى التاريخ لانتاج الملح , وكان الملح آنذاك سلعة اساسية احتكارها يضمن الثروة والقوة , و كما هى عادة الصينين فى الابتكار والاختراع فقد استخدموا الملح فى صناعة " المخللات , وحفظ الاطعمة بالتمليح " أما فى مصر القديمة فقد استخدموه استخدام آخر لحفظ الجثث والمومياوات عن طريق استخدام كميات كبيرة من الملح وحشوها داخل الجسم لتجفيف السوائل الموجودة فيه وتشبع مسام الجلد بالملح الذى يمثل اداة ممتازة لمقاومة التعفن والتحلل وكما استخدموا الملح لحفظ لحوم " جثثهم " استخدموه ايضاً لحفظ لحوم الاسماك = الاسماك المملحة التى تبدو على كل حال اختراعاً مصرياً خالصاً لم تزل رائحته المميزة تزكم الانوف فى شهر ابريل من كل عام فى شم النسيم اما الفينيقيون فهم ايضاً قاموا بدورهم فى تاريخ الملح الطويل فقد جعلوا الملح سلعة عالمية , فهم نجحوا فى ترويجه فى العالم عن طريق اساطيلهم البحرية الشهيرة التى كانت تجوب العالم القديم حينذاك فى كل لحظة , فقد استخدموه كاداة للمقايضة وتبادل السلع عبر موانىء العالم المشهورة قديما , وكان الفينيقيون يستخدمونه بكثرة ممزوجاً مع قشر الرمان للصباغة التى اشتهروا بها, وكذلك فى دباغة الجلود ذكر الرحالة العربي ابن بطوطة أنه زار مدينة تاغرا الأفريقية في العام 1352 المبنية من الملح بما في ذلك مسجدها ، وكان الملح انذاك يستخدم كسلعة بالغة االاهمية لدرجة ان بعض قبائل افريقيا كانت تقايض كميات الملح بالذهب الخالص . قوافل نقل الملح فى اثيوبيا * اما الرومانيين فقد ادركوا مبكرا قيمة الملح واهميته , فلم يترددوا لحظة فى الاستيلاء والسيطرة على ورش الفينيقيين لانتاج الملح والتى كانت تنتشر عبر شواطىء المتوسط , و فى خلال هذه الفترة أُضيفت بعض التقنيات الجديدة فى هذا الزمان لحفظ الخضار والزيتون عن طريق الملح للاسف تبدو الاسماك والحيتان الفئة الوحيدة الاكثر تضرراً فى ذلك التاريخ الطويل للملح وتطورات استخدامه , فى القرن الثامن عشر والتاسع عشر فى اوج ازدهار عصر النهضة الاوربية كانت القارة البيضاء العجوز تنوء بحملها المتزايد من السكان وكانت فى امس الحاجة الى سد حاجتهم المتنامية الى الطعام عن طريق الاسماك فظهرت حملات واسعة للصيد فيما وراء البحار فى المحيطات الواسعة حيث الاسماك الوفيرة والانتاج الغزير , لكن هذه الرحلات تستغرق اياماً واسابيع للوصول الى هذه الاماكن ثم العودة مرة اخرى بما تم صيده الى الشواطىء الاوروبية وهذه المدة كانت كافية لافساد وتعفن اى كمية يتم اصطيادها من الاسماك مباشرة , و كان حل هذه المعضلة يتمثل فى " الملح " فى تلك الاسماك المملحة المقددة اللذيذة التى يتم حشوها بالملح بعد صيدها مباشرة لمنع اى تحلل او تعفن يظهر عليها . من ناحية أخرى كانت الرحلات الكشفية الاستعمارية الاوروبية فى أوج ازدهارها فى هذا العصر , وكانت الشواطىء الأوروبية تقذف الى البحار يومياً الالاف من المغامرين الصعاليك الذين خرجوا بحثاً عن الثروة والذهب فيما وراء البحار و كانت هذه الرحلات تظل ايضاً شهورا طويلة فى عرض البحر تبعد عن اقرب مركز للامداد والتموين بالآف الكيلومترات وفى نفس الوقت لايمكنها الاحتفاظ بالطعام الذى غالباً ما يلبث فترة يسيرة الا ويظهر عليه اثار التعفن والتحلل , من هنا ظهرت الحاجة الملحة لاستخدام الملح فى تخليل الفواكه والاسماك لاستخدامها فى هذه الرحلات الطويلة وكل ذلك طبعاً باستخدام الملح . فى ظل هذه الحملات الضخمة لصيد الاسماك والحيتان سواء لسد العجز الغذائى فى اوروبا او للصناعات الغذائية القائمة على التخليل والتمليح ظهرت حملات مجنونة غير منضبطة وجائرة للصيد حصدت فى طريقها كثير من انواع الاسماك التى تعرضت للانقراض والاختفاء كل ذلك بفضل وتشجيع هذه التقنيات الجديدة 'حفظ الطعام بالملح' .ِ ..كان التعفن السريع للسمك هو حجر العثرة الذى يقف فى وجه حملات الصيد الجائرة فلما ظهرت تقنية الاسماك المملحة انطلقت حملات الصيد الجائر بلا ضابط ولا رقيب. بحيرات الملح فى بوليفيا = امريكا الجنوبية حينما وصل الاوروبيون الى القارة البكر = قارة الهنود الحمر او القارة الامريكية كما اطلق عليها بعد ذلك , كان السكان الاصليون يعرفون جيداً انتاج الملح لاستخدامتهم اليومية عن طريق شواطىء البحار , ولم يلبث الاوربيون قليلاً حتى اطلقوا حملات واسعة لاستكشاف اماكن تواجد الملح فى القارة الجديدة و لم تتوانى هذه الحملات عن قتل وتدمير السكان الاصليين من اجل السيطرة على الملح كما فعلوا من اجل السيطرة على الذهب وعلى كل مقدر من مقدرات هذه القارة الخضراء , لكن مقاليد الامور كانت وقتها فى يد بريطانيا التى كانت تتقاسم الحكم فى امريكا مع فرنسا , فلم تتطور هذه الصناعة فى امريكا كثيراً فحاجة السكان من الملح كان يتم توفيرها عن طريق استيراد الملح من مدينة الملح البريطانية الاشهر حينذاك = ليفربول , الذى كان ملحها يحتل مكانة وسمعة طيبة انذاك فى العالم كملح عالى الجودة ( ملح ليفربول ) ,على مدار السنوات التالية لم يكن التجار الامريكيون يرتاحون كثيراً لفكرة الحكم البريطانى لامريكا , وبدأ البريطانيون في عام 1759 يواجهون الميل الأميركي للاستقلال بفرض تعريفات وضرائب عقابية على التجارة الأميركية تطورت إلى حالة تمرد وحرب عام 1775، وفرض حصار بريطاني على المستوطنات الأميركية المتمردة أدى إلى نقص فوري وخطير في الملح، واستهدفت المعارك والصراعات بين الجانبين مصادر الملح، وحاول كل طرف حرمان خصمه منها. وبدأت الإدارة الأميركية المستقلة على الفور في جملة من السياسات والإجراءات تشجيع صناعة الملح ومواجهة نقصه الحاد والحصار البريطاني، فشكل الكونغرس لجانا للمشورة في طرق ووسائل إمداد الولايات المتحدة بالملح، وأعفي العمال العاملون في مجال الملح من الخدمة العسكرية، وواجه الصيادون والمزارعون أزمة خانقة في الحصول على الملح.وفي اتفاقية باريس من سبتمبر/ أيلول عام 1783 انتهت الثورة الأميركية بالاستقلال، وولدت أمة جديدة مع ذاكرة مرة عما يعنيه الاعتماد على الآخرين للحصول على الملح. تطرق الكاتب أيضا إلى الثورة الفرنسية وشنق لويس الرابع عشر الذى كانت سياساته المالية الفاشلة سببا فى اندلاع الثورة ضده فى أرجاء فرنسا ، واحد أهم هذه السياسات المالية السيئة هى ضريبة ' الغايبل ' أو ضريبة الملح التى سجنت الحكومة الالاف من المواطنين حينما حاولوا التهرب منها ..قامت الثورة وكانت هذه الضريبة من أوائل الضرائب التى تم إلغاءها فورا بعد الثورة . " الكيميا غدارة" ربما كان هذا التعليق هو الانسب لتوصيف حالة الملح بعد ان غدرت به الكيمياء , فى السنوات الاخيرة تراجع دور الملح كثيرا وفقد قدرا كبيرا من سلطته وسطوته , عدد ليس بالقليل من المجالات التى كان يستخدم فيها كلوريد الصوديوم تم استبداله فيها بالكثير من المركبات الكيمائية الاقل سعراً وكلفة فى الواقع يمكن لنا ان نتحدث عن ضربتين موجعتين تلقاهما الملح فى العصر الحديث افقدتاه كثيراً من اهمتيه , الضربة الاولى كانت على يد الطاهى الفرنسى الشهير نيقولاس أبير، الذي اخترع “التعليب” ، فيما الضربة القاصمة الثانية جاءت من صناعة الثلج، حيث انتشر تجميد الاسماك واللحوم بدلا من تمليحها.. الملح واستخراجه فى الهند فى الفصول الاخيرة من الكتاب تناول تاريخ الملح فى الهند , سيطرت بريطانيا على الهند فى القرن السادس عشر ولم تلبث قليلا حتى احتكرت تماماً صناعة الملح وتجارته فى شبه القارة الهندية فاالحكومة البريطانية منعت حتى كشط الملح عن سطح التربة تحت طائلة عقوبات قاسية، ومنعت شعوبا كانت تعتمد بأكملها على صناعة الملح والاتجار به من مواصلة عملها الذي اعتادت عليه آلاف السنين , فى العصر الحديث وخلال الثورة الهندية ضد بريطانيا قاوم الهنود مبدأ احتكار بريطانيا لصناعة الملح وقام عدد من زعماء الثورة بالسير لمسافة تزيد 500 كيلو سيرا على الاقدام للوصول الى شواطىء الهند من اجل استخراج الملح كنوع من التحدى لبريطانيا وبعد حملة من الاعتقالات واحتجاجات واسعة سمحت حكومة الاستعمار للهنود باستخراج الملح وصناعته من اجل حاجتهم الخاصة فقط ثم لم تلبث الهند قليلا بعدها حتى حصلت على استقلالها الكامل __________________________ من الاشياء التى ينبغى التعليق عليها هى ان الكاتب فى معرض سرده لتاريخ الملح فى الاديان ذكر ان الملح يحتل مكانة خاصة فى الديانة اليهودية والمسيحية ثم اضاف اليها الاسلام بيد اننا لا نستطيع ان نوافق المؤلف فى ما ذهب اليه , فكل من له ادنى معرفة بالاسلام وبشرائعه يعلم ان الملح لا يحتل مكانة دينية ولا حتى شعائرية فى الاسلام , وان استخدام بعض الجهلة من المسلمين للملح كمادة للحفظ من الحسد والرقية وما الى ذلك هو نوع من البدع والخرافات التى لا علاقة للاسلام بها .. لا تكون الامة اكثر فقرا الا عندما تبدو مكتظة بالاثرياء

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This book changed my life. I picked it up because fiction novels were all looking the same to me, and because it was thick enough to last the long train ride from Dusseldorf to Maastricht. School textbooks were the only non-fiction I'd ever read, and they had not prepared me for the vibrant and engaging writing found in Salt. Since reading this book I have become a devoted fan of non-fiction writing, which has exposed me to a whole new world of literature.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amos

    This was the first so-called "commodity history" that I've read, and I'm sorry to say it might have turned me completely off the damn things. I'm not entirely sure why this book is so popular and so widely read, since it strikes me as simply a series of stories by Mark Kurlansky that quickly settle into the same basic mantra, which is: 1) Here is this culture; 2) Like the twenty other cultures I have just introduced to you, salt was also important to this culture; 3) These are the ways they gath This was the first so-called "commodity history" that I've read, and I'm sorry to say it might have turned me completely off the damn things. I'm not entirely sure why this book is so popular and so widely read, since it strikes me as simply a series of stories by Mark Kurlansky that quickly settle into the same basic mantra, which is: 1) Here is this culture; 2) Like the twenty other cultures I have just introduced to you, salt was also important to this culture; 3) These are the ways they gathered salt; 4) Here is a random sprinkling of recipes involving salt. Done. Move on to next story. The different stories are not even interwoven, so that halfway through the book I still didn't really know what Kurlansky's point is, unless to underscore his initial point that all animals need salt to live. But I already knew this before I cracked open the book, and I don't think Kurlansky's additional 450 pages underscoring the subject really added anything useful to my life. Moreover, how can this guy write one book about how Cod changed the world (aptly titled Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World), and then turn right around and write another about how salt changed the world? One wonders if his gimmick isn't getting a bit old. And in any case, can't you name pretty much anything out there and weave a story about how it "changed" the world? Shoelaces, rubber, pencils, ziplock bags . . . The one thing about the book that was interesting was how it printed all these old school recipes involving salt, salting and brining. The recipes are incredible because of the sheer amount of labor and preparation that they describe. It's both fascinating and horrifying. No wonder a woman's place used to be in the kitchen, if cooking and eating took so damn long. Here is one of the simpler recipes, this one for salted cucumbers: SOLENYE OGURTSY (SALTED CUCUMBER) Dry out very clean river sand and pass it through a fine sieve. Spread a layer of this sand, the thickness of your palm, on the bottom of a barrel. Add a layer of clean black currant leaves, dill, and horseradish cut into pieces, followed by a layer of cucumbers. Cover the cucumbers with another layer of leaves, dill, and horseradish, topped with a layer of sand. Continue in this manner until the barrel is full. The last layer over the cucumbers must be currant leaves, with sand on the very top. Prepare the brine as follows: For one pail of water, use one and a half pounds of salt. Bring to a boil, cool, and cover the cucumbers completely with the brine. Replenish the brine as it evaporates. Before any kind of salting, cucumbers must be soaked for 12-15 hours in ice water. --Elena Molokhovets, A Gift to Young Housewives ============= ADDENDUM I: Okay, I am about three quarters through the book now (I was probably only about halfway through when I wrote the first portion of this review) and it's getting a lot better. Maybe it was just the very long Part II about salting cadavers and the preservation of fish that got me so down on the book before I'd even finished the damn thing. I was initially tempted to quit and put the book down, but I have done that so rarely with books that I decided to just push on, and thankfully the arc of the story shifted and started getting a lot better. ============= ADDENDUM II: Okay, the book got a lot better towards the end. It's still not a book that I would read again with any relish or recommend to anyone who is not already gung-ho about commodity histories, but I don't feel like I am wasting my eyes and mental energy with it anymore. Two stars!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"

    Well, I'll be pickled! We say we'll take something with a grain of salt as if it's nothing, but much of the history of the world is tied up in the quest for salt. It's not nothing. We're fortunate to have it in such abundance that we can take it for granted and worry about getting too much of it in our diets. For most of human existence that was not the case. The material here is thorough and often fascinating, but you must have a strong interest in history if you hope to get through it. Had I t Well, I'll be pickled! We say we'll take something with a grain of salt as if it's nothing, but much of the history of the world is tied up in the quest for salt. It's not nothing. We're fortunate to have it in such abundance that we can take it for granted and worry about getting too much of it in our diets. For most of human existence that was not the case. The material here is thorough and often fascinating, but you must have a strong interest in history if you hope to get through it. Had I tried to read it in print rather than listening to the audio book, I may not have stayed with it. It's quite thoroughly thorough, right down to ancient and modern recipes for salty foods that sound mighty revolting. The quality and style of presentation in the book is similar to Bill Bryson's, but without the humor. It's hard to believe this was written by the same guy that put together that goofy book made up of nothing but questions.

  8. 5 out of 5

    J

    Mark Kurlansky is a historical writer who does what one reviewer referred to as the “little-big” style of writing, that is to say, he takes something little and often overlooked and from it he spins out larger truths about society and the world. To say that he does this well would be an understatement. Salt: A World History, his fascinating history of this overlooked cooking seasoning, makes a couple very good points in its introduction. Because of its current cheapness and easy availability, we Mark Kurlansky is a historical writer who does what one reviewer referred to as the “little-big” style of writing, that is to say, he takes something little and often overlooked and from it he spins out larger truths about society and the world. To say that he does this well would be an understatement. Salt: A World History, his fascinating history of this overlooked cooking seasoning, makes a couple very good points in its introduction. Because of its current cheapness and easy availability, we nowadays tend to forget that wars were fought, empires rose and fell, and fortunes were made and lost all on the basis of salt. Entire buildings have been constructed of salt, methods of transportation have been begun for moving salt, religious rituals around the world make use of salt, and it is the only rock we eat. Nearly everyone I’ve mentioned the book too gives me the same look. A book about salt? that look says. How could that possibly be interesting?A much drier history could be written that was more cohesive if you wished to focus on one specific element, such as the development of salt procurement technologies, replete with graphs and tables. Instead, Kurlansky has written a lively book that moves about with rapidity and brio, never bogging down in any area. While at times the author seems to suggest a little too freely that salt was the main ingredient in important historical revolutions (the American, the French, Ghandi’s in India), he does at least add this element so lacking in most other stories. If his partisanship as a salt historian has him shaking his salt cellar a little too aggressively over world events, consider it a corrective. Where he might have spent a little more time near the book’s conclusion is the environmental impacts of road salt and the increasing salinization of fresh water sources from this and due to rising sea water levels. Most of the ancient practices for salt collection, such as filling a clay jar with brine, then letting the water evaporate out, then refilling with brine until the accumulated salt filled the jar, then smashing the jar open, persisted for thousands of years. The oldest human remnants in North America are such jar shards. On a large scale, this was done with a series of artificial ponds, brine pumped into one, set to evaporate for several months, then that water pumped into another lake to be replaced with fresh brine and so on. There are also, all over the world, brine springs and large pure veins of salt in the earth. This early form of salt, irregular and large chunky crystals, impurities in the supply leading to discolorations, prone to clumping as well as oozing brine in humidity, was prized nonetheless. It often served as a means of trade and was bartered for other goods. Near Salzburg (“Salt Town”), a collapse of a mountain in the middle ages uncovered a well preserved salt miner dating back to 400 BC, completely preserved even down to his leather pouch and brightly colored fabrics. Three miners were found in total, these were known to the Romans as Gauls (“Salt people”). These celtic types spread out as far as possible, going as far as being found perfectly preserved in Asian salt mines. The Roman Empire (after defeating the Gauls and absorbing all their salt technology, their salted meat recipes, among other things) was the first peoples to declare common salt, that is, salt as a right belonging to all citizens. Most Italian cities were founded along nearby salt works. The first great Roman road, the Via Saleria has a name that might give it a clue as to what was behind its construction. Salt was such an important part of Roman culture that two rather popular words in English still used today date from their original usage. The etymology of the word “salary” comes from the Romans paying their men in salt. To pay the large Roman army on the nearly continual German campaigns, generals would often set up salt evaporation ponds. Roman salt works lasted for centuries, some of them being taken over by the French monarchy and used in the 1300s. Likewise, the origin of the word “salad” is from the Roman habit of salting their green vegetables to moderate the bitter taste, the word meaning “salted.” That one still buys canned green beans among other vegetables with salt already added is a testament to our tastes having long roots. Later Venetian city state power was built on salt. Merchants there realized that selling and trading salt was actually more profitable than salt harvesting, and thus outsourced the salt production to Indians and Chinese and others. All imported salt supplied by Venice had to pass through the government for regulation, taxation, etc. As the money came rolling in, the Venetians had to expand their buying and their navy sailed farther and farther afield. The Venetian navy doubled as a military force and would police the Mediterranean, seizing ships and searching them for illegal salt transportation. Perhaps their most famous traveler would be Marco Polo who traveled along the Silk Road and met Kubla Khan. Fish itself became a Friday food because of the Catholic Church’s expansion of “fast days” on which one was also supposed to abstain from sex. Red meat was seen as a “hot meat” and thus had sexual connotations, while aquatic meat were considered “cool” and thus unlikely to provoke salacious thinking. The legal penalty for eating meat on Friday in England was hanging and this law stood on the books until King Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church. In the American Revolution, salt would come to play am important role. With the supply of Liverpool salt obviously cut off, the very first patent issued in the United States was for a refinement on salt production. Several battles engaged in by George Washington were to secure and hold the American salt production locales and supplies. Several measures were passed by the Continental Congress advocating salt production in each colony. Pamphlets were published and distributed freely among the colonists for bay salt production. Exemptions were offered to salt works letting their workers out of military service; New Jersey would allow each facility to exempt up to ten men. This importance extended itself in history through the American Civil War as well. Secession exposed the South’s desperate lack of salt works. The Union blockade from England was designed to prevent the importation of Liverpool salt through the port of New Orleans. An army essentially could not subsist without salted meat which prevented spoilage and allowed for long marches. Wherever they marched, Union armies attacked Confederate salt works and when captured, they destroyed them. When the Confederates captured (or retook) a salt works, they celebrated. This shortage of salt is best demonstrated when Lee surrendered to Grant. As part of terms, he asked the conquering general for food, stating that his soldiers hadn’t eaten in two days. Prior to the Civil War and just after the American Revolution, the Erie Canal’s backers and the surveyor who pushed the idea, presenting it first to President Thomas Jefferson then later to New York business interests after Jefferson denied them, were salt manufacturers. It was eventually built and one of its main products shipped was salt. The Trans-Ohio Canal from the Ohio River to Cleveland carried nothing but salt. Nearby a ten-mile stretch of the Kanawha River through what is now West Virginia managed to set up the best salt works in America, giving the earlier established Onedega salt works in New York a run for its money. Cincinnati grew as a city, grew from salt pork due to Ohio grown hogs and Kanawha salt. Eventually, the Kanawha salt makers were crushed by the New York Onedega salt works’ friends in government who passed laws making it harder for the Virginia firm to compete. Back overseas, The British East India Company’s salt policy, featuring the usual bad elements such as high taxes and a brutal enforcement policy, prohibitions on salt production at one point (when the Indian salt works produces cheaper salt than Liverpool), and a deaf ear to poverty, eventually got noticed by a small fellow named Ghandi. His salt campaign was launched through the India National Congress. He marched to the Indian Ocean with 78 followers (the number rising to thousands) and after a ritual purification, he waded to the shore and scooped up a large crystal of salt, thus breaking the British laws. All over India, people began scooping up salt, making salt, mining salt. In that single moment, that single act, the British lost their colony for all time. Salt has always been a part of our history. Without it, health suffers; with too much of it health suffers. How much is good for you and how much is bad for you seems very particular based on where you live, your activity level, and your genetics. Kurlansky addresses this in closing, but it’s just circles. The exact formula can probably never be argued with certainty due to any number of factors playing a role, but what is without question is that salt, that simple little rock, so common today as to be given away freely at restaurants, is still important and will always be important. In the way the world works, circularly, the various colored, irregular salt crystals of the past, which were spurned when whiter, purer salt was regularized and when consistency of shape and size was prized, are now seen as artisanal salts. They have now become the expensive style salt whereas they used to be cheaper salt eaten by the poor. The coloration of the salt is merely an indication of differing kinds of dirt in the product. Pure, regular white salt crystals are now the salt of the poor. What comes around goes around.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    What a disappointment this was. Kurlansky clearly has searched complete encyclopaedias on the word 'salt' and has poured it all down in this book, with no connecting narrative or analysis. Facts, myths and stories are mixed almost randomly. And okay, you do get the impression that salt has played a very important role throughout history, and even all around the world, but in the end you're stuck with a dizzying amount of (unreliable) facts. Kurlansky even has the annoying habit of adding all kin What a disappointment this was. Kurlansky clearly has searched complete encyclopaedias on the word 'salt' and has poured it all down in this book, with no connecting narrative or analysis. Facts, myths and stories are mixed almost randomly. And okay, you do get the impression that salt has played a very important role throughout history, and even all around the world, but in the end you're stuck with a dizzying amount of (unreliable) facts. Kurlansky even has the annoying habit of adding all kinds of other non-salt-related information; unfortunately for him, he regularly makes big mistakes and he repeats himself constantly. This is certainly not the way that World History should go.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chrissie

    I very much enjoyed this book on world history, roled like a ball of yarn around the role salt played in this history. I think that different readers will enjoy different aspects of the book. There is something for everyone. I particularly enjoyed the sections on Chinese ancient history, on French salt production on Noirmoutier and Ile de Ré and also the perspective of how French salt taxes (gabelle) influenced the French revolution. This was interesting becuase other books stress the role of th I very much enjoyed this book on world history, roled like a ball of yarn around the role salt played in this history. I think that different readers will enjoy different aspects of the book. There is something for everyone. I particularly enjoyed the sections on Chinese ancient history, on French salt production on Noirmoutier and Ile de Ré and also the perspective of how French salt taxes (gabelle) influenced the French revolution. This was interesting becuase other books stress the role of the price of bread rather than these salt taxes. Other people may be interested in the role salt played in the American Revoltion, Morton Salt Company, German and Austrian salt mines, how a lack of Scandinavian salt influenced the Vikings, hydraulic drilling and gas deposits or the numerous old recipes provided (the original ketchup, tomato ketchup, the difference betwwen the Swedish herring surströmming versus sill). I believe there is something here for everyone. The author makes the information so interesting that it fastens in your head! Well hopefully at least for awhile!

  11. 5 out of 5

    rivka

    While certainly an interesting and often entertaining read, with many historic details I had never heard before, this book is seriously flawed in several ways. It has a bibliography, but no footnotes or endnotes. Given that on those subjects that I had detailed pre-knowledge, I found details that were misinterpreted, glossed over, or just plain wrong, I can only assume the same is true for the subjects I didn't know about before reading this book. But without detailed endnotes (which a book of th While certainly an interesting and often entertaining read, with many historic details I had never heard before, this book is seriously flawed in several ways. It has a bibliography, but no footnotes or endnotes. Given that on those subjects that I had detailed pre-knowledge, I found details that were misinterpreted, glossed over, or just plain wrong, I can only assume the same is true for the subjects I didn't know about before reading this book. But without detailed endnotes (which a book of this sort really ought to have), I would have to guess which of the many books in the bibliography is the source of any given fact or factoid. Plus there's every reason to believe some were pieced together by the author from multiple sources -- or pieced together of whole cloth. The book lacks a general organizing principle. Are we traveling through time, era by era? Through the globe, region by region? Or perhaps it's time for a (grossly oversimplified and sometimes flat-out wrong) chemistry lesson? It never quite decides. Nor can it decide what its theme or focus should be. History? Politics? Geography? Certainly not chemistry. Maybe cooking? 3 stars means "I liked it", and that's about right. Mostly, I did. But that's despite its myriad flaws, certainly not because of them.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elana

    AIYIYI... I just couldn't take this book. I was determined to read it after I chose it for a challenge I had entered but my goodness was it a struggle. I don't know if it was because I had just finished a textbook size of a book that was purely about science (A Short History of Nearly Everything) and was in major fiction withdrawal, or the fact that this book was breathtakingly boring, but I could literally not read more than 15 pages before I actually started to drift off into a deep slumber. AIYIYI... I just couldn't take this book. I was determined to read it after I chose it for a challenge I had entered but my goodness was it a struggle. I don't know if it was because I had just finished a textbook size of a book that was purely about science (A Short History of Nearly Everything) and was in major fiction withdrawal, or the fact that this book was breathtakingly boring, but I could literally not read more than 15 pages before I actually started to drift off into a deep slumber. I had to think about and plan out times where I would be awake enough to read. I had to get multiple nights of decent amounts of sleep before I could continue on my huge undertaking of reading more than 20 pages. It was as if Kurlansky was intentionally aiming for the reader to not give a rats a** about salt. For the reader to actually not want to learn anything further about something that kinda seemed interesting at the time. The information Kurlansky gave me was so irrelevant and uninteresting I found myself having to reread lines over and over and still not be able to understand what the significance of it being there was. I was really excited to read Salt: A World History because I thought it would be an unique experience to read about a topic that most people take for granted. To learn some new and interesting things about a topic that is very rarely a point of conversation. But what I found was what I thought the stereotype of books about random specific topics would be like. Completely and totally uninteresting and boring. Just because a book is non-fiction and about salt doesn't mean the writing as to be blander than an instruction manual on how to put together a flash light.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Grumpus

    This is based upon the audio download from [www.Audible.com] Narrated by: Scott Brick The legendary pipes of Scott Brick did little to enhance this biography of the ubiquity of salt. The book is a curate’s egg—there are dull parts but there are also some very interesting parts. I didn't think it possible to have someone talk about salt for 13 hours and 43 minutes but it was. The book begins with facts about salt and the sharing of some of the salt industry’s 14,000 uses for salt. It was interesting This is based upon the audio download from [www.Audible.com] Narrated by: Scott Brick The legendary pipes of Scott Brick did little to enhance this biography of the ubiquity of salt. The book is a curate’s egg—there are dull parts but there are also some very interesting parts. I didn't think it possible to have someone talk about salt for 13 hours and 43 minutes but it was. The book begins with facts about salt and the sharing of some of the salt industry’s 14,000 uses for salt. It was interesting to learn that the salt in the human body is equivalent to what would be found in 3 or 4 salt shakers. The early history of salt was only slightly interesting but as the history moved to Europe, you learn how everyday words had their origin with salt—such as salary and town names in England ending in “wich” have salt-related origins. The best part of the book for me was the role it played in U.S. history (as that is what I like to read about most). I did not realize the strategic importance of salt, especially during the Civil War. My favorite passage from the book was actually a quote from General William Tecumseh Sherman in August 1862. He stated, “Salt is eminently contraband because of its use in curing meats without which armies cannot be subsisted.” In all my readings of U.S. history and the Civil War, I've never come across a discussion of the importance of salt. This was eye-opening. It was a slow, dry book but one that definitely imparts knowledge.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    I hate to give this a 3/5 I really do. I cannot tell you how many times I picked up and put down this book in stores across the nation.... maybe that should have been my sign. Don't boo me, but this was dry. There were sections that were legitimately interesting, but there were sections that just needed more editing, they needed to be trimmed down. Also, I dont know how I would personally fix this, but the layout of the book seemed to need changed. It was largely geographically based, so then lar I hate to give this a 3/5 I really do. I cannot tell you how many times I picked up and put down this book in stores across the nation.... maybe that should have been my sign. Don't boo me, but this was dry. There were sections that were legitimately interesting, but there were sections that just needed more editing, they needed to be trimmed down. Also, I dont know how I would personally fix this, but the layout of the book seemed to need changed. It was largely geographically based, so then large sections felt very redundant, afterall there is not so much difference between salting anchovies, or cod, or herring. Perhaps if the sections had been: preservation, tax, wars.... then we could have saved some of the parts that seemed to be rehashed. Still, I learned a good deal of fascinating information, but I also often found myself too hungry to be rapt and craving salty, tasty foods.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cricket

    You know you're a writing tutor when you fantasize about conversing with the author over his organization strategies.No, seriously. I had an entire dialog in my head about it. How did you organize this book? Does each section have a main concept or idea? Does every chapter and/or paragraph help move towards this idea? Can you find any that don't? Let's read through some of these paragraphs together and you can tell me where you think something might be tangential to the main idea. This book meand You know you're a writing tutor when you fantasize about conversing with the author over his organization strategies.No, seriously. I had an entire dialog in my head about it. How did you organize this book? Does each section have a main concept or idea? Does every chapter and/or paragraph help move towards this idea? Can you find any that don't? Let's read through some of these paragraphs together and you can tell me where you think something might be tangential to the main idea. This book meanders. It shares an interesting perspective on history based on one trading commodity, but sections, paragraphs, and even sentences within paragraphs will go off on a somewhat related topic and then return to the original topic as though it hadn't even left. One memorable example of this: I read a paragraph about the Egyptians making salt that, in the middle, incorporated a sentence about their trade with the Phoenicians, and then the next sentences finished the explanation salt making. Some might like their nonfiction to take the scenic route to every idea; I discovered through this book that I am not one of those people.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    450 pages is a lot of salt. Though interesting by the end I was very ready to be done with it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kian

    The history of salt is super interesting, and I learned a lot of amazing facts about human history from reading this book, BUT... the editing was pretty bad. I mean, it has to be pretty bad for you to actually notice that a book is really poorly written. Chapters would end out of nowhere, there were tons of non-sequiturs, etc. It got progressively worse as I got through the book- and then towards the end it became an advertisement for Mortons Salt. I'd recommend this book from a library, but not The history of salt is super interesting, and I learned a lot of amazing facts about human history from reading this book, BUT... the editing was pretty bad. I mean, it has to be pretty bad for you to actually notice that a book is really poorly written. Chapters would end out of nowhere, there were tons of non-sequiturs, etc. It got progressively worse as I got through the book- and then towards the end it became an advertisement for Mortons Salt. I'd recommend this book from a library, but not for purchase.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Leila

    I think this book should have been called Salt: It's Dry. I'm about 25% through it and I'm throwing in the towel (and possibly tossing salt over my shoulder for luck). There was just nothing about the writing or the information presented that was even mildly interesting. Moving on...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton

    For a guy who literally looks like the Dos Equis man, Mark Kurlansky has managed to find some of the least interesting subject matter I could imagine and turn them into full histories. Whether it's salt (this one), cod (1988), oysters (2005), or the Basques (1991)...well, okay. A history of the Basques sounds like it has some potential. My point is: Kurlansky seems to look around for the driest subjects and then to begin to research the heck out of it. And yes, he really does look like the Dos Eq For a guy who literally looks like the Dos Equis man, Mark Kurlansky has managed to find some of the least interesting subject matter I could imagine and turn them into full histories. Whether it's salt (this one), cod (1988), oysters (2005), or the Basques (1991)...well, okay. A history of the Basques sounds like it has some potential. My point is: Kurlansky seems to look around for the driest subjects and then to begin to research the heck out of it. And yes, he really does look like the Dos Equis man. "Stay thirsty, my friend." Mark Kurlansky[/caption] And let me tell you, reading Salt: A World History made me thirsty. And hungry. Between examining the long and storied history of salt over the millennia, Kurlansky peppers the text with recipes in which sodium chloride plays a major, if not crucial, ingredient. Here we see pickling, preservation, and flavoring, and yet, we should not think that Salt: A World History is aimed at the culinary inclined. Kurlansky looks at geography, the rise of civilizations, and the placement of forts. His book is fascinating, including all sorts of salt-related trivia, from the beginnings of Tabasco Sauce to a scheme to introduce camels in the American west's deserts to how salt came to be both common and perfectly granulated. From the location of Roman military depots near salt deposits to the role a shortage in salt played in bringing about the end of the American Civil War, Kurlansky is all over the map. However, if there is a critique to be made, then it is this all-over-the-map-ness that seems to typify Kurlansky's style. Running from ancient to modern times, Kurlansky doesn't seem to follow a single cohesive narrative, with sections starting and stopping without apparent reason or cohesion. It doesn't detract from the value of the information, but Salt: A World History does make for an occasional dry and eclectic read.

  20. 5 out of 5

    mim

    What a book! As I was reading it, I wavered between "this is so dense with facts and boring" to "this is sooo interesting." Well, it's both. There were parts that I skimmed over and parts that made me share them immediately. I would want to stop reading then would come to a part about either a place I've visited or a know about from some reason or other, and then I'd be drawn back into the book. I learned a lot, that's for sure. The part dealing with chemistry interested me a great deal. I was s What a book! As I was reading it, I wavered between "this is so dense with facts and boring" to "this is sooo interesting." Well, it's both. There were parts that I skimmed over and parts that made me share them immediately. I would want to stop reading then would come to a part about either a place I've visited or a know about from some reason or other, and then I'd be drawn back into the book. I learned a lot, that's for sure. The part dealing with chemistry interested me a great deal. I was surprised by that as I'm not a very scientific person. That being said, I'll admit I was very interested in the book Mauve, which was about organic chemistry. Anyway, if you want to learn lots of facts about salt, read about place all around the world, learn about commerce, industry and rebellion, this is the book for you. Just know that there's a lot that you'll probably skim over - like the many recipes from antiquity for food preparations using salt. I'd love to know what you think of this, if you read it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Lukey

    This book is about so much more than salt. A friend asked me what I was listening oo while listening to this one and they thought it sounded like an absurd thing to read about. I'm inclined to believe that many people might turn away from this book based on that fact, but I found it to be chalked full of so many interesting facts from some of the earliest history. I found all the information presented in the book a little overwhelming at times and I do believe I would have given it 5 stars had I This book is about so much more than salt. A friend asked me what I was listening oo while listening to this one and they thought it sounded like an absurd thing to read about. I'm inclined to believe that many people might turn away from this book based on that fact, but I found it to be chalked full of so many interesting facts from some of the earliest history. I found all the information presented in the book a little overwhelming at times and I do believe I would have given it 5 stars had I read it more slowly and allowed the information to settle between reads. I will be sure to read it at a later date for that reason. This is a thoroughly entertaining read! I recommend it to anyone who likes cooking, history or cataloging interesting little facts to spew at later dates. There is so much good party chit-chat tied up in this one.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Quin

    the author read everything there is to read about salt. then he relentlessly put every bit of it in this book. you will wish for the end waay before you get there, i promise.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    Previously read Sept 2003 - Checked this out from the library on the recommendation of Carla Irene The title is pretty self-explanatory: the book discusses how salt was accessed, processed, sold and used from ancient times through today. I was pleased to see non-European cultures were included - especially since China and India have had such a rich history entwined with this essential mineral. However, I would have liked to see more info about North & South America and sub-Saharan Africa, and Previously read Sept 2003 - Checked this out from the library on the recommendation of Carla Irene The title is pretty self-explanatory: the book discusses how salt was accessed, processed, sold and used from ancient times through today. I was pleased to see non-European cultures were included - especially since China and India have had such a rich history entwined with this essential mineral. However, I would have liked to see more info about North & South America and sub-Saharan Africa, and I don't remember anything about Australia at all. The book itself is very readable - covering both some more technical aspects of collecting and refining salt, as well as giving recipes and discussing the economic aspects. While I'm sure most people know that the word "salary" comes from the Latin for salt, I didn't realize that in pre-industrial times, if a nation started buying huge amounts of salt, that was a possible indication that they were going to war, as all the rations for the soldiers would need to be preserved. I learned quite a bit about Italian and Chinese history & culture that I didn't know before - and I never realized that salt was one of the main reasons for India's revolt against England. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in an overview of history (with a twist) and plan to read more books by Mr. Kurlansky.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    A beautiful exploration into the role this substance has played in the human grand narrative. The first two thirds were very informative and interesting, but it wasn't until I got to the section about India that I was totally enthralled. The story of how Ghandi used the British imposed salt laws, and his disobedience of them, to gain freedom for his country was truly riveting. I can't help but draw parallels between this story and other moments in history. It's long been a fact that civic rebell A beautiful exploration into the role this substance has played in the human grand narrative. The first two thirds were very informative and interesting, but it wasn't until I got to the section about India that I was totally enthralled. The story of how Ghandi used the British imposed salt laws, and his disobedience of them, to gain freedom for his country was truly riveting. I can't help but draw parallels between this story and other moments in history. It's long been a fact that civic rebellion follows punitive costs associated with the fundamental materials of life. The tea tax in the American colonies, poll taxes, whiskey taxes. I'm sure an economics historian or a political scientist could find many more relevant examples than I can. Now we find ourselves entering into a similar scenario with the crippling price of gasoline. The present rise in the cost of gas isn't because of taxes entirely, although they do play a significant role in certain states such as California. Our current predicament with fuel prices can't be laid at the feet of government because the government is not in control, big business is. Which represents a whole different problem. What really rises to the surface in book like this is the same old ancient story: yet another example of those in power screw those who aren't to the wall.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Phoebe

    What I learned: *Everybody loves salt fish *Chinese invention stories war with European invention stories - WHO WILL WIN?! *The planets resources -salt, sugar, oil- inspire ruthlessness in certain types of humans - the urge to Pokémon-collect-them-all is deep seated and endless *It's a lot easier to see mistakes and bad behavior via birds eye view of history *Write down the mundane stuff and leave it around for historians to find, otherwise expect to be forgotten once you're gone *Eccentric behavior What I learned: *Everybody loves salt fish *Chinese invention stories war with European invention stories - WHO WILL WIN?! *The planets resources -salt, sugar, oil- inspire ruthlessness in certain types of humans - the urge to Pokémon-collect-them-all is deep seated and endless *It's a lot easier to see mistakes and bad behavior via birds eye view of history *Write down the mundane stuff and leave it around for historians to find, otherwise expect to be forgotten once you're gone *Eccentric behavior pays dividends *Deliciousness travels in all directions, and a lot of it emanates from Asia & Italy *SALT SALT SALT SALT *FISH FISH FISH FISH *It seems to remain ok for historians to talk about human slavery like it's just this thing that, y'know, happens on the way to riches. No biggie *A little humor goes a long way, especially when you're reporting boring stuff *Salt *Fish *Supreme smelliness *What once ruined lives and attracted cash, is now thrown down on our roads with little interest and care *I still care little for dates and places, some things haven't changed since high school *Sweden was once poor --I had no idea! Today they're like the middle class society poster child *So .... what's next for the world's favorite compound?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    This audiobook was a real slog. At almost 14 hours long, I had to speed it up to 1.5 speed to get through it. Of course it's my own fault for imagining a book this long about salt could be engaging. Nonetheless there were some interesting factoids I collected. There were fights centuries ago in England when people's land started caving in when salt brine was extracted from subterranean levels. At the time if I got this right, people actually retained the rights to what was under their land. But This audiobook was a real slog. At almost 14 hours long, I had to speed it up to 1.5 speed to get through it. Of course it's my own fault for imagining a book this long about salt could be engaging. Nonetheless there were some interesting factoids I collected. There were fights centuries ago in England when people's land started caving in when salt brine was extracted from subterranean levels. At the time if I got this right, people actually retained the rights to what was under their land. But the salt exploiters claimed that extracting the brine helped the local economy. So what if huge sinkholes started appearing everywhere. Now I know there had to be geologists and engineers warning oil companies that fracking was problematic. Of course salt led to wars. An excellent example is Gandhi and the Salt Marsh protests in 1930 which led to protests again British rule, but was started over battles over the rights to collect salt. http://www.history.com/topics/salt-march This is a book that would appeal to some history buffs as well as those interested in who has the right to exploit natural resources. Lots of interesting history in this book but just too much of it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Dena

    This book was completely fascinating! Sure, human population didn't really take off until we started staying put in one place and domesticating animals and crops, but what do you think preserved those food staples? Salt! Salt didn't just play a role with how we preserve food, but entire wars and civilizations rose and fell due (in part) to their hold on salt. Seriously! Venice became a huge European powerhouse in the middle ages because of their saltworks, and I learned that salt even played a p This book was completely fascinating! Sure, human population didn't really take off until we started staying put in one place and domesticating animals and crops, but what do you think preserved those food staples? Salt! Salt didn't just play a role with how we preserve food, but entire wars and civilizations rose and fell due (in part) to their hold on salt. Seriously! Venice became a huge European powerhouse in the middle ages because of their saltworks, and I learned that salt even played a part in the American Civil War (all the good salt production was in the north, so the south had to ship it in). Sure, Mr. Kurlansky might have overly emphasized salt's role on occasion, but that didn't detract from the book one iota. Oh! One more tidbit: Everyone's heard of Ghandi's pacifistic march across India, but did you know Ghandi was marching in protest of severe British salt restrictions? Really! To this day, it's called the "Salt March" (1930).

  28. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    This is my most-favorite non-fiction book. I find it fascinating and enjoy something new every time I read or listen to it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Lots of really interesting information, but so, so, so dry. So many recipes... I don't really need to know all the different ways people first created fish sauce, maybe just tell me the important ones. Might try this one in audiobook form at a different time.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ana Rînceanu

    While I do think that the stories could've been better tied together, the book presented salt in a new way for me. Plus, the old-school recipes were really interesting, if a little gross.

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