Salt A World History

ISBN-10: 0802713734

ISBN-13: 9780802713735

Edition: 2002

Authors: Mark Kurlansky
List price: $28.00
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Description: Homer called salt a divine substance. Plato described it as especially dear to the gods. Today we take salt for granted, a common, inexpensive substance that seasons food or clears ice from roads, a word used casually in expressions ("salt of the earth," take it with a grain of salt") without appreciating their deeper meaning. However, as Mark Kurlansky so brilliantly relates in his world- encompassing new book, salt—the only rock we eat—has shaped civilization from the very beginning. Its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of mankind. nbsp; Until about 100 years ago, when modern chemistry and geology revealed how prevalent it is, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities, and no wonder, for without it humans and animals could not live. Salt has often been considered so valuable that it served as currency, and it is still exchanged as such in places today. Demand for salt established the earliest trade routes, across unknown oceans and the remotest of deserts: the city of Jericho was founded almost 10,000 years ago as a salt trading center. Because of its worth, salt has provoked and financed some wars, and been a strategic element in others, such as the American Revolution and the Civil War. Salt taxes secured empires across Europe and Asia and have also inspired revolution (Gandhi's salt march in 1930 began the overthrow of British rule in India); indeed, salt has been central to the age-old debate about the rights of government to tax and control economies. The story of salt encompasses fields as disparate as engineering, religion, and food, all of which Kurlansky richly explores. Few endeavors have inspired more ingenuity than salt making, from the natural gas furnaces of ancient China to the drilling techniques that led to the age of petroleum, and salt revenues have funded some of the greatest public works in history, including the Erie Canal, and even cities (Syracuse, New York). Salt's ability to preserve and to sustain life has made it a metaphorical symbol in all religions. Just as significantly, salt has shaped the history of foods like cheese, sauerkraut, olives, and more, and Kurlansky, an award-winning food writer, conveys how they have in turn molded civilization and eating habits the world over. Salt is veined with colorful characters, from Li Bing, the Chinese bureaucrat who built the world's first dam in 250 BC, to Pattillo Higgins and Anthony Lucas who, ignoring the advice of geologists, drilled an east Texas salt dome in 1901 and discovered an oil reserve so large it gave birth to the age of petroleum. From the sinking salt towns of Cheshire in England to the celebrated salt mine on Avery Island in Louisiana; from the remotest islands in the Caribbean where roads are made of salt to rural Sichaun province, where the last home-made soya sauce is made, Mark Kurlansky has produced a kaleidoscope of history, a multi-layered masterpiece that blends economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records into a rich and memorable tale.

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Book details

List price: $28.00
Copyright year: 2002
Publisher: Walker & Company
Publication date: 1/1/2002
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 496
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.50" long x 1.50" tall
Weight: 1.760
Language: English

Mark Kurlansky is the author of The Basque History of the World, the New York Times bestseller Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (among the New York Public Library's Best Books of the Year in 1998), as well as A Chosen Few: The Resurrection of European Jewry; A Continent of Islands: Searching for the Caribbean Destiny, and several acclaimed works of short fiction and journalism about the Caribbean. He spent seven years as the Caribbean correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. He lives in New York City.

Introduction: The Rock
A Discourse on Salt, Cadavers, and Pungent Sauces
A Mandate of Salt
Fish, Fowl, and Pharaohs
Saltmen Hard as Codfish
Salt's Salad Days
Salting it Alway in the Adriatic
Two Ports and the Prosciutto in Between
The Glow of Herring and the Scent of Conquest
Friday's Salt
A Nordic Dream
A Well-Salted Hexagon
The Hapsburg Pickle
The Leaving of Liverpool
American Salt Wars
Salt and Independence
Liberte, Egalite, Tax Breaks
Preserving Independence
The War Between the Salts
Red Salt
Sodium's Perfect Marriage
The Odium of Sodium
The Mythology of Geology
The Soil Never Sets On ...
Salt and the Great Soul
Not Looking Back
The Last Salt Days of Zigong
Ma, La, and Mao
More Salt than Fish
Big Salt, Little Salt
Acknowledgments
Bibliography
Index
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