Chrissie's Reviews > Salt: A World History

Salt by Mark Kurlansky
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Apr 02, 09

bookshelves: history, kirkus, text-checked, science
Read in April, 2009

I very much enjoyed this book on world history, roled like a ball of yarn around the role salt played in this history. I think that different readers will enjoy different aspects of the book. There is something for everyone. I particularly enjoyed the sections on Chinese ancient history, on French salt production on Noirmoutier and Ile de Ré and also the perspective of how French salt taxes (gabelle) influenced the French revolution. This was interesting becuase other books stress the role of the price of bread rather than these salt taxes. Other people may be interested in the role salt played in the American Revoltion, Morton Salt Company, German and Austrian salt mines, how a lack of Scandinavian salt influenced the Vikings, hydraulic drilling and gas deposits or the numerous old recipes provided (the original ketchup, tomato ketchup, the difference betwwen the Swedish herring surströmming versus sill). I believe there is something here for everyone. The author makes the information so interesting that it fastens in your head! Well hopefully at least for awhile!
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Reading Progress

03/30/2009 page 109
21.98% "The history of the whole world, bringing all disparate threads together into a comprehensive whole that is easy to understand and remember."

Comments (showing 1-14 of 14) (14 new)

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message 1: by J (new) - rated it 5 stars

J This book is truly amazing. It doesn't really sound like a gripping page turner, but Kurlansky makes history come alive and finds all kinds of fascinating aspects to the history. He also wrote the lovely Cod which does the same for the humble titular fish.


Chrissie I have added both this author's book about salt and the one about the Basque people. Have you seen that othe great book called Guernica? It is on my to-read and must shelves. No, actually I think I have ordered it at Amazon, so it must be on my "available-to-read" shelf.Does this mean we are friends now? Thanks! I have also added The Historian. Your review convinced me.


Lynne I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did. I always worry about building up a book too much and creating inevitable disappointment.


Chrissie Lynne, I SHOULD have been emailed to tell me of your comment - but I wasn't. I have noticed this has happened at other places too. Very annoying. So far I totally love the book b/c the author makes the facts slip into your head easily and fasten. At least for awhile! He brings together history that is occuring all around the world. I love the Chinese history and the Egyptian and - well so far everything! Thank you for praising this book. Have you left other comments that I haven't responded to?! Your friendship is important to me.


Chrissie Lynne, this is so strange. I got an email concerning your message 3 only after I had sent you message 4. I sent you message four b/c I saw your message 3 when I happened to go to the book to write something. Maybe this is a general GoodRead problem currently b/c other people have talked about not receiving emails! Do you know that Skye died? I deal with this by reading and going to the neighborhoos dog park to play with other dogs! Usch!


Lynne I am sorry to hear about Skye. Distracting yourself with a new book is probably a good plan.

I am glad you're enjoying Salt. To learn so much while being entertained is a wonderful thing. I have just learned that Kurlansky has a new book out this spring. I am already on the waiting list at the library.


Chrissie Lynne, no I did not know that he will soon have another book! I will have to go check it out. I forgot - have you read his book on the Basque people? Loosing Skye is horrible and reading is good, but the house is so empty! I put two pictures of him on my profile. Curlies are fabulous!!! And him in particular!


Lynne I am so glad you liked it. I never knew about the salt taxes.


Lynne Also, I did check out the pictures. He was so cute.


message 10: by Chrissie (last edited Apr 03, 2009 02:12AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chrissie There was alot in that book I had no idea about! That ketchup existed without tomatoes surprised me. Yeah; Skye was truly beautiful and so SMART! God I miss him. I am on waiting lists for another black male curly. I have had lots of other dogs, but now I am stuck forever on curlies. Sweet and intelligent! The house is so dam empty. Lynne you must check out the book I am reading. Sooo good! Oh and fleurs de sel from France (Noirmoutier and Ile de Ré I have tested) are so very different than other salt types.


message 11: by P.J. (new)

P.J. Sullivan It sounds like this is a history book, but does it mention that salt is highly toxic? That it causes hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and cancer? Dr. Albert Schweitzer said that cancer was unknown in his part of West Africa until the natives started using salt. Then he started seeing tumors in his medical practice. Sea water is unfit for human consumption because of its salt content. It induces vomiting.


Chrissie P.J. I don't remember Kurlansky pointing out the toxic qualities of salt, but I know that dogs can definitely get sick if the consume too much salt sea water...... I do not remember the bood discussing these points. That isn't a criticism of the book since it is more focused on the historic role that salt has played. One book cannot include EVERYTHING. Maybe Lynne remembers more than me?!


message 13: by P.J. (new)

P.J. Sullivan If the truth about salt's toxicity had been widely known, the history of salt would have been very different. But somehow, a long time ago, people got the mistaken notion that salt is needed in the human diet. It is not! All the sodium and chloride we need are available in natural foods, in bio-available form. Table salt is not bio-available. It is poison. Sea salt is no better. Yet too many people still buy sea salt for its alleged health benefits. If sea water is unfit to drink because of its salt content, how can the salt extracted from it be fit to eat? It makes no sense. Yet, most "health food" stores still sell sea salt. The myth refuses to die. Most people stubbornly resist the truth about salt. It goes against the way they were brought up.


Chrissie I LOVED the book, but I never had salt to my food. I don't add it when I cook potatoes in the water. I don't add it when I cook rice..... Those who want it can add it at the table, but my husband and I don't even have a shaker on the table. It is all a matter of what you are use to! We use other spices! Me, I know what you are talking about PJ!!!

I read the book for history, NOT for cooking recipes!

I am so HAPPY, but computer works again!


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