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Salt: A World History
Salt A World History
Author: Mark Kurlansky
Mark Kurlansky, the bestselling author of Cod and The Basque History of the World, here 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...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780142001615
ISBN-10: 0142001619
Publication Date: 1/28/2003
Pages: 496
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.

3.7 stars, based on 103 ratings
Publisher: Penguin Books
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Members Wishing: 3
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

crackabook avatar reviewed Salt: A World History on
Helpful Score: 2
Truly all that can be said of salt is written in these pages, however, that said it was very interesting and did hold my interest. I did learn many trivia points concerning other historical points and facts of items one would not readily attribute to salt. I would recommend reading this as a fill in while reading another book, it can be a bit much.
reviewed Salt: A World History on + 30 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Fascinating journey through world history. You will be amazed at the importance of salt's role in world civilization. We think of it today as merely a seasoning, but its preservative and disinfectant qualities made it indispensable in days gone by. Well written.
reviewed Salt: A World History on + 3352 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Kurlansky is excellent at presenting world history from one aspect which includes all other aspects. If all history were written this way we'd all be non-fiction admirers.
reviewed Salt: A World History on + 173 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This book is full of interesting historical notes on the culinary and other uses of salt....along with the impact of salt on the economic and social tides of many countries. The author jumps around a bit in time period and some segments of the book felt like short research papers stuck into the middle of the book. If you are interested in geography, science, culinary arts and history, you will likely enjoy this.
reviewed Salt: A World History on
Helpful Score: 1
This is an absolutely fascinating history of an item that most of us take for granted without realizing its impact. It can be a bit dry in parts, but overall it's an enjoyable read.
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reviewed Salt: A World History on + 407 more book reviews
This was a thoroughly informative book on salt and its impact on world history. I learned many new things including the fact that the word stem "-wich" as in Norwich means salt works and that there's a rock salt mine 1,200 feet below Detroit.
jjares avatar reviewed Salt: A World History on + 3254 more book reviews
Who would have thought an author could make the story of humble salt, something everyone eats every day, interesting? Well, Mark Kurlansky tells a fascinating story of the most common preservative in the world and how it traveled the world. One thing I learned is that salt was used as a way to preserve bodies in olden times.

The Celts, like the Chinese emperors, based their economies on iron and salt. They traversed by water, to carry the heavy items around to their trading partners.

I thought the part about the Basques and the Vikings to be fascinating reading. I had no idea they even interacted with each other. Another thumbnail sketch I thought fascinating was about anchovies and salt. I doubt I've ever eaten an anchovy but learned they have a long and illustrious history in the Mediterranean.

Another juicy bit is that any British town ending with 'wich' means salt was produced there at one time. Towns were created near where salt could be collected.

During the Revolutionary War, I was amazed to hear that the American colonies released up to 10 men from military service if they were working in a salt production company in their county. That is because there was a shortage of salt; the British tried to keep salt away from the colonists as a method of getting the colonists to capitulate.

This book meanders through the ages and countries of the world with fascinating factoids and thumbnail sketches. A few of my favorites were the changing story of the Dead Sea, Mahatma Gandhi and how he broke the salt law, Birdseye and how he brought frozen foods to consumers. He also talks about how adding iodine to salt has caused problems for poorer countries and less-advanced producers of salt. This book shows how salt has had a profound influence on man and civilizations for eons. Fascinating reading.