Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky
Unabridged, 13 hr. 43 min.
Scott Brick (Narrator)
February 20, 2003
Genre: Non-Fiction, Food History
Source: Borrowed audiobook from my local library
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.
Since reading A History of the World in Six Glasses I have been intrigued by the premise of food history, having never known that such a thing existed prior. I had heard of Kurlansky’s works when reading A Short History of the World and knew I had to read this one; however I was hoping to start with Cod, but my library wasn’t cooperating with me. So, I started with Salt.
Salt follows how this precious commodity changed or affected the course of history. I found this interesting because I had never really thought about how a seemingly simple spice could affect history. I actually found myself able to apply some of the logic imparted in this book within my Roman Empire class this semester because the author had spent a decent amount of time on the Roman use of a salt fish sauce known as garum and knowledge about salt even made its way into my paper on Roman roads! There were chapters on the evolution of salt mining, preserving, and how salt affected the American Civil War.
While I really appreciated the information provided in this book, I didn’t really love the format. It sort of follows the historical timeline, but it was a little bit all over the place. I think that this issue was only exacerbated by the audio production.
Overall, if you are interested in food history, this is probably a book you should read. If you are not that interested in food history, you might decide to skip this one as the road is a little long and, at times, tedious.
While I think this book was a little difficult to listen to and would have been better enjoyed in print, the narration was just middling. Nothing special to remember it by or really comment on.
Author Mark Kurlansky also has written several other food history books: Cod, The Big Oyster, Choice Cuts, The Food of a Younger Land, and Birdseye. You can visit Kurlansky’s website or blog for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court