I was feeling sentimental and reading a bunch of inspiring books and waltzed into this one. I had had it for a while, but we all have those books that...more I was feeling sentimental and reading a bunch of inspiring books and waltzed into this one. I had had it for a while, but we all have those books that we buy and we have plans to read but never do. Before I say anything else, read it. Seriously.
I’m not going to give away the plot or the message, but it is a simple one that if you read it you will most certainly see it. And beware, you will probably cry a little at the beginning and then probably a lot at the end. And, you should watch the lecture after you read it, seeing him give his speech is just as touching as reading his story. Can’t say anymore. Read it, really. (less)
This book was very nicely done. I will be completely frank, I hated parts of the first and second sections which were all about fish, but now that I h...moreThis book was very nicely done. I will be completely frank, I hated parts of the first and second sections which were all about fish, but now that I have read the entire piece I understand why fish warranted probably close to ¾ of the entire book.
The book is broken down into three sections, the first on salt in general, the second on fish and some meats in Europe and North America, and the second breaking down salt, talking about Asia and the Caribbean and their relationship to salt, as well as the current day situation of salt. My only problem with this is that there should be been a more detailed explanation or discussion about salt. Maybe one that talked about all the major types of salt. After reading, I feel that I know a lot about three types of salt and nothing about the other types I know exist like pink salt and black salt.
One thing Kurlansky did well was stick to his thesis. This book was supposed to be a world history, not a book about salt like I wanted. And so, Kurlansky does an excellent job discussing the history of the world in relation to salt. He shows how salt created and shaped nations, countries, and locations. Without the widespread use of salt, things may not be the way they are now.
At one point, Kurlansky was writing about how salt changed the world and I asked myself how and if it really did. Then I began thinking, salt allowed for the preservation of food sources, which led to the ability to travel and keep food on a person. Without the ability to preserve food, exploration would have taken more time to develop.
Kurlansky also does a great job showing how important salt was and is. In your everyday history courses, movies, magazines, etc. you never hear about salt and how important it is. For example, I had no idea that salt was the basis and catalyst for one of Gandhi’s most famous marches, or that salt played such a large role in the history of Chinese dynasties and imperial rule, and that salt production defined an entire regions in India and the Caribbean.
Of course, this book also gave me some idea. I now want to delve a little deeper into salt. I may try some salting of meats in the future or even maybe a salt-crust baked fish. Who knows? Now that I am armed with knowledge and ideas there is no telling what may happen.
I recommend this book to any foodie or anyone who just wants to understand the history of what we now see a common. It can be lagging at times and hard to read 25 chapters (not really!) on fish, but when you get to the end and you can say that you do have a better understanding, that is what really matters. (less)
The first thing I will admit is that this is a teen novel. I picked it up at a thrift shop looking for something easy and quick to read to escape some...moreThe first thing I will admit is that this is a teen novel. I picked it up at a thrift shop looking for something easy and quick to read to escape some of the heavier “adult-level” reading. When you start reading you can tell very easily that it is a teen novel because it really sticks on things like high school and being pretty and all those things that we all experienced in high school and do not want to relive. However, there are bigger topics in this book such as personal beauty and domestic abuse. The family is plagued by a mother’s weight gain, a father’s failure and just mean attitude, and distance of children. This is all fixed after a trip to China with friends when everyone finds their own bearings and “straightens up”. Of course, there is a love story imbedded in. The girl, Terra is in a meaningless relationship in order to keep her high school status but then later falls in love and ends up in a mess that is of course solved in the end, too perfectly. This is not real life.
The book does feel rushed. Up until the trip to China, the book goes at an okay speed but afterwards it just rushes to the end. Even though the speed is off, it is still a good read if you want something easy with a happy ending.
And then of course, it tries to offer up the message that everyone is beautiful no matter what they look like. I feel that this is counter-balanced by the numerous references to the weight and size of the mother, which is often put into juxtaposition with the extremely fit body of the daughter. I think that if Headley would have bluntly said the mother was fat a little less, the story would have been more affected. At the end, I was not happy with this and every time the author mentioned it, it made me a bit angry. Just because you are plus-sized does not mean that it’s super hard/near impossible to do anything.
In short, teens should read this and take the messages to heart. Adults, I’m not too sure about; it works well as a quick innocent and light read. (less)
This is one of the first very well written anthropological ethnographies that I have read; Allen presents the material in a very understandable and no...moreThis is one of the first very well written anthropological ethnographies that I have read; Allen presents the material in a very understandable and not expected relatable way. The subject of the book, the Quechua-speaking people of the Andes Mountains of Peru.
I have had to read my fair share of ethnographies and I have seen that in order to craft a good ethnography, the author must open the work with clarity as well as something that will attract readers because otherwise, you just end up reading something that has no importance or interest to you. This, I believe is what set Allen up for a nice book. She opens with a scene at a funeral and immediately you are immersed in the culture and if you are like me, you actually feel something at the end of those first six pages. Allen then jumps immediately into the meat of the book and starts giving a breakdown of each chapter and their important topics.
In the most general sense, I was able to really connect with this book on a personal and spiritual level. The people represented in this book feel very strongly about land and nature and they feel that the land is a living entity and needs to be respected and cared for, often in the form of rituals and offerings to her and him. This is the idea that I immediately connected with. As you read, you can begin to see more and more the care that these people give the earth and the land, which provides them with their life. If they were not able to use the land for their animals, crops, and coca, the people of the Peruvian Andes would not be able to survive.
I think this is why coca is so important to the Quechua speakers of the Peruvian Andes. Coca chewing and the rituals and offerings that come about from coca or deal with coca are all related to their cultural image of themselves and to outsiders. This is what makes them unique and interesting. In most cases, coca creates a bridge between the members of the culture; coca leaves are shared at community events such as funerals and burials, and rituals that deal with giving thanks to the land. There is an entire etiquette behind coca chewing as well as what must accompany chewing and how it is presented. Coca is also the link between the people and the earth. I believe that this is why coca is so important. It does not provide any nutritional value, but it does provide a different state of mind and an immediate connection between the earth spirits and the people who live and use the land.
Because Allen did such a good job getting the emic view of this culture, readers can really connect and try to understand the complexity that occurs with the people. It takes skill to get that much detail and I appreciated this in this book. My only problem is a small one; there are a lot of foreign words in this work. This was not a problem for me since I speak Spanish and some of the foreign words are from the Quechua language. Thankfully, Allen composed a small glossary of all the foreign words and placed it in the book. She also does a great job explaining what these things are in the text, so you do not have to always go back and forth between the text and the glossary.
Bottom line, if you are into cultural readings and especially those in Central and South America, I would really encourage you to read this. It does get heavy near the end, but the general ideas that these people believe in and support and seen all throughout the work. It is very nicely done and probably one of the best ethnographies that I have read and would be a great “first-read” for an ethnography.(less)
I read this ethnography for an environmental/economic anthropology course and at first, I wasn’t really sure that I would like it. The topic was one t...more I read this ethnography for an environmental/economic anthropology course and at first, I wasn’t really sure that I would like it. The topic was one that I was not too keen on, but at the time, I wasn’t too sure what environmental racism was. This work is shorter than most, but does not lack in detail or information. In fact, it is one of the better that I have read. To be completely frank, next to Rara, this ethnography is my favorite. I really was able to read it and enjoy it while being able to really process the information and learn. Checker does a great job outlining and explaining what is happening in the small neighborhood. Because of the clarity of the topic, I took the same idea presented, environmental racism and later wrote an intense English paper on the same topic. I’m not going to talk much about the “meat” of the book; there really isn’t a lot to spill. Checker does an excellent job in this piece; the work is very coherent and flows very nicely. Read it if you want a really nice anthropological piece under your belt. It is quite enjoyable and intriguing. I guarantee that you will be thinking about the government, big business, and how zoning and neighborhoods are thought about. (less)
I will admit, I have been trying to read this book for about 6 months now. It isn't that the story or the writing is bad, it is just that the first 13...moreI will admit, I have been trying to read this book for about 6 months now. It isn't that the story or the writing is bad, it is just that the first 13, to me were just really slow and didn't really leave me wanting to turn the pages. There were just small bits of exciting things, like the crime scene and the accurate description of the Body Farm, but other than that there was a lot of talking and setting up the plot for the remainder of the book. After chapter 13, things started to pick up the pace a bit and more interesting things were beginning to happen. However, after that it all seemed to be a bit rushed, especially when it came to finding the second crime scene and the ultimate killers.
This book was also weird for me because it began with one plot which then warped into another. I was a little upset however, that the first plot which was the first crime that was being handled was not really given the attention that it deserved. The story fizzles out and the killer is announced with no frills. I really didn't even realize what was happening until the words were uttered by the killer and those who were confronting her or him. The second crime took the main-stage, but also seemed to fizzle out at the end as well. It was like the author had to finish the story in the last 100 pages and did so as quickly and eloquently as possible.
I did love the detail that was put into the story. The forensic details are fascinating, as well as the details surrounding the crime. I love when stories like this one include lots of anatomical lingo and identifies bones and features of the human correctly. This was an enjoyable book to read since it did take me back to my forensic anthropology course. I also loved the detail that was put into the prison and legal system. If one did not understand those systems, this book paints a wonderful image of how all the works and really works to de-villanize that system, especially the prison booking system which I had no idea about before reading this.
I would have wished for a more quicker paced beginning and then a longer ending, rather than the slow beginning and quick ending. None the less, after the 13th chapter, I was left turning page after page and not wanting to put it down. I remember I was falling asleep, but made myself continue reading because I couldn't and wouldn't put it down. I am sure I would read another novel in this series, especially if they all have as good of insights as this one had.(less)