Tracey's Reviews > Salt: A World History

Salt by Mark Kurlansky
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Dec 31, 12

bookshelves: libraryread, pop-history, e-text, foodie, libraryread-idm
Read from December 21 to 31, 2012, read count: 2

Previously read Sept 2003 - Checked this out from the library on the recommendation of Carla Irene

The title is pretty self-explanatory: the book discusses how salt was accessed, processed, sold and used from ancient times through today. I was pleased to see non-European cultures were included - especially since China and India have had such a rich history entwined with this essential mineral. However, I would have liked to see more info about North & South America and sub-Saharan Africa, and I don't remember anything about Australia at all.

The book itself is very readable - covering both some more technical aspects of collecting and refining salt, as well as giving recipes and discussing the economic aspects. While I'm sure most people know that the word "salary" comes from the Latin for salt, I didn't realize that in pre-industrial times, if a nation started buying huge amounts of salt, that was a possible indication that they were going to war, as all the rations for the soldiers would need to be preserved. I learned quite a bit about Italian and Chinese history & culture that I didn't know before - and I never realized that salt was one of the main reasons for India's revolt against England.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in an overview of history (with a twist) and plan to read more books by Mr. Kurlansky.
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