Jane's Reviews > Salt: A World History

Salt by Mark Kurlansky
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's review
Nov 27, 07

I was very non-plussed by this book. Kurlansky does not do a very good job of presenting his topic. In my opinion he was just throwing out about any facts he could find about salt. In a way he ties it together. He discusses how ancient Chinese used salt; how northern Europeans used salt; how salt was mined; etc. I got that salt is a major natural resource that is the basis for cuisine and culture throughout the world, but I was still asking myself the question, "And?" Kurlansky left me wondering more.
The lowest point comes in the last few chapters where he spends a couple paragraphs around the actual effects of salt on health. There's the camp of people who think it's unhealthy and keep it from their diet; then there's the camp who think it's healthy and have no problem with it. I was just getting into this argument, when Kurlansky pretty much says, "Well, there's no answer to this," and ends the subject with that. There was a lot of potential there to touch on something interesting, and he completely bypasses it.
This is still not to say that I don't recommend the book. The subject matter is good, and this would be a good read for anyone who is really interested in cooking and cuisine throughout the ages, but Kurlansky is not a good enough writer to pull it off.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Joan (new) - added it

Joan non-plussed means excited.

Billie The whole idea is salt as a tradable commodity. It's about supply and demand a commerce.

Laura I'm with you, Jane. And with Amos, below. If there had been some overarching *idea* there, beyond "salt is important", I could have continued reading the stories about salt in this and that place and time. Definitely, the writing wasn't equal to the subject.

Kate Diffley We read this book last month and met to discuss it at our book club eight people out of nine would not recommend

Leila I completely agree that the author did nothing to make me care about the facts he was presenting. I only made it 1/4 through the book before I gave up (which I rarely do). I'm glad I did.

message 6: by P.J. (new)

P.J. Sullivan The "overarching idea" of salt is that it is toxic. It has no food value because the minerals in it are not bio-available. It does no good, but does considerable harm. It is linked to many serious diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke. It serves no purpose in the human diet except to preserve foods from spoilage. It does this by poisoning the bacteria that cause spoilage.

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