Review of Cod

Originally book 6 in my first 52 books challenge.
Published in 2 parts on February 29 and March 7, 2004.

Full title: Cod: A biography of the fish that changed the world
Author: Mark Kurlansky
Published: 1997
Where got: public library
Genre: History

I decided it was time to learn more about the fish that can, with some justification, be called the basis of Iceland's economy. I have always liked haddock better. Maybe this book will change that.

After all the rave reviews and accolades, I expected Cod to be something more than just an ordinary history book. It isn't. Like many other history books I've read, it's well researched, informative and well written, if somewhat journalistic at times, but by far the best thing about it is the quotes and recipes, for which Mr. Kurlansky is not responsible. The writing failed to get me interested in the subject and about the only thing I found interesting was chapter 2 which gives information about the biology and ecology of the cod, and chapter 10, which gave me a new angle on the cod wars between Iceland and Britain, which in retrospect seem funny but at the time were dead serious.

I can only surmise that the praise the book has received was for the idea itself, of writing the history of the commercial exploitation of a seemingly mundane natural food resource, and furthermore one that few people outside the fishing communities of the Atlantic ocean ever give thought to. Of course, it has been done before, but mostly about more exotic foods like chocolate.

Rating: 1 star for an unusual subject, 1 star for good research and good writing, 1 star for great choice of quotes and recipes. In other words: 3 out of 5.

Kurlansky links:

Eclectica Magazine review

There were more, but they are all broken.


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