Mark Kurlansky (December 7, ) is an American journalist and writer of general interest non-fiction. He has written a number of books of fiction and non- fiction. His book, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World ( ). Kurlansky reveals how cod fishing territories were the heart of British and French negotiations following the Seven Years’ War. France “held its. From the New York Times best-selling author of Cod and Salt, a definitive history of Once a week in the Kurlansky home, Mark spins a globe and wherever his.

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A Biography of the Fish That Changed the WorldMark Kurlansky spins a refreshingly intimate narrative on the relationship between humans and the environment. He attempts to understand the present by way of the past: The Vikings air-dried the fish to survive voyages made to America between andthe medieval Basques established themselves as whalers by trading and salt-curing cod, and the British fought the first cod war in Bysixty percent of all fish eaten in Europe was cod and it remained a staple food for years.

By the late s, the cod fisheries in New England established a commercial environment of individual economic freedom independent from the British crown. Kuelansky American Revolution emerged not from a call for political freedom. Rather, the colonists demanded the right to make kurlanwky via the right to sell cod.

In response, Kurlansky explains how cod laid the economic foundation for kurlajsky production of food for the Continental Army.

While it does lend a new perspective on the kurlasky, it neglects other reasons for British defeat such as the vast territory the army had to cover in the colonies, so distant from Great Britain. Kurlansky contributes to this history by interweaving the human rationality behind every new change in technology. At the turn of the 19 th century, the human perception of the abundance of cod dictated alterations within fishing practices.

In the Darwinian spirit of the Victorian age, Kurlansky argues, T. Kurlansky also comments on the self-perpetuating relationship between cod populations and technological innovation.

So long as newer fishing techniques yielded bigger catches it did not seem that the stocks were being depleted.

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World

Even when local cod populations were in obvious decline, kurllansky ship trawlers expanded into the ocean and returned with bounty. The abundance fod fish catches were not related to the population size, so much as they exemplified the efficiency of steam ship trawlers to access untouched, healthy populations in remote waters.

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By the s, Kurlansky notes, fish kurlanaky were already showing signs of depletion in the North Sea. Kurlansky explains how technological innovation was not only to blame; it was simply the tool humans crafted to supply demands for cod. Diesels, trawler nets, bottom draggers, sonar surveillance, and factory ships— all took a toll kurlanskt the resilience of cod. These include the role the advancement of medicine played in drastically increasing the size of population, the post-WWII economic boom, and the overall increase in wealth and prosperity throughout the modern world.

All attributed to an increased demand for cod. These technological transfers are not simply natural, inevitable transitions, rather they were innovations justified within a specific socio-cultural context of guiding policies and practices. In his comparison of Canada and Norway, Kurlansky intimates how past human errors can only aid current natural resource management decision-making.

In Norway, the politicians were able to severely limit the catch and change the industry when the fish were still commercially viable.

As a result, populations were able to rebound. In Canada, the necessary regulations arrived too late and the fisherman were left to wait. Cod recipes, dating from the twelfth century to the twentieth century, chronologically break up the chapters.

At first, these recipes come across as anecdotal and trite. In Part One, it is not clear how several boiled cod recipes are relevant. The further Kurlansky builds his argument, however, the recipes become shards of evidence of an unimaginable time when cod was, indeed, abundant. They also serve as a constant reminder of the longevity of this staple food in daily life.

In the beginning sections of this book, Kurlansky intimates this point, but it is not until the last page of the book that Kurlansky drives his main point and the recipes come to life:. Nature is being reduced to precious demonstrations for entertainment and education, something far less natural than hunting.

Are we headed for a world where nothing is left of nature but parks?

Mark Kurlansky | Books | Other Non-Fiction

We know it is hard to kill off fish than mammals. But after 1, years of hunting the Atlantic cod, we know that it can be done. The recipes reveal a time when man was intertwined, as oppose to a part from, the natural processes. Cod represented livelihood, sustenance, and ritual. Throughout the book, we see how cod is transformed from a dish cooked by fishing communities to a pricey specialty prepared by elite cooks.

What is strikingly distinct about the last thirty pages of recipes in the book is how the reader realizes they are all written for a ghost fish, and it is not clear if these recipes will be again in the future. Walker and Co, Published by Laura Madokoro on March 21, at 3: It reminded me of a part in Moby Dick where Ishmael claims that most exploration came from whaling expeditions, as a way of justifying the trade.


The way Kurlansky described the fishing industry certainly seemed as though he wanted to push an agenda by explicitly exaggerating the influence of the fish. As for his analysis that this was a cause of the American Revolution I agree that this is highly reductionist.

The restriction of trading cod can at best be seen as a microcosm of how merchants were worried about the enforcement of the navigation acts, but this would have only been a concern of merchants. I would agree with your analysis that the author definitely wanted to depict this as a historical lesson, and wanted to show the extent of overfishing by making cod seem as important as possible.

I myself have doubts as to whether a nuanced narrative is possible if there is a moral lesson being considered in its creation. Overall I really liked your review on the cod trade!

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Entries Feed and Comment Feed. Taking on Popular Histories Building a bridge between academia and the world of popular histories. In the beginning sections of this ukrlansky, Kurlansky intimates this point, but it is not until the last page of the book that Kurlansky kurlamsky his main point and the recipes come to life: February 16, at 7: Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.

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Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky

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