Fledchen's Reviews > A Short History of the American Stomach

A Short History of the American Stomach by Frederick Kaufman
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's review
Apr 11, 2010

Read in February, 2010

I wanted to like this book. I listened all the way to the end, hoping that it would get better. It seemed like it would be an excellent social history companion to the recent writings of Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma", "In Defense of Food". In fact, if you search Amazon.com for this book, you'll often be presented with a special discount if you buy the book in combination with Pollan's books.

I expected better of an author who is supposed to be an English professor. Mr. Kaufman appears to have been so engrossed in the task of finding the most bizarre and horrifying food-related tidbits from history that he has forgotten how to tie them together into a coherent narrative. He often resorts to coarse language to get his point across. I think there's a time and a place for strong language to make a point or add emphasis, but this seemed more like a rebellious teenager drawing naughty pictures in the margins of his math homework than the efforts of someone who has supposedly devoted his life to the study of English literature. The information he found was fascinating, but the manner in which it was presented left much to be desired.

Maybe I come across as a prude. Honestly, I'm not complaining about the content, but rather the context and manner in which it was presented. If Kaufman had handed off his research notes to a different author, this would be a much more worthwhile book. The choice of narrator was also ill-advised, as she didn't know how to pronounce some of the words in the book. I consulted a dictionary, thinking that perhaps the errors were in reality regional variations in pronounciation, but, no, she goofed and QA didn't catch it.

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