Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of a Common Fate” as Want to Read:
Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of a Common Fate
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of a Common Fate

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  195 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Patagonia
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Salmon, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Salmon

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  195 ratings  ·  34 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of a Common Fate
Clare O'Beara
This excellently written book looks at the life cycle, evolution and legends of the salmon in the early chapters, and at the fisherfolks who depend upon it. Moving on to Europe and how salmon has been almost fished out of existence except in Britain where laws came in to protect it but rivers were often polluted by industry.
America has both Atlantic salmon (in small numbers) and Pacific salmon, of which we hear much. Japan even has some salmon and there are land-locked lake salmon in odd places
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: microhistories
Eh. It's fine. Yeah, there's a ton of information on the history, classification, and future conservation efforts of salmon. But . . . there's nothing especially interesting. None of the "fun facts" I quest for in my microhistories. There's no particular angle here.

Although, hats off to Kurlansky for somehow managing to talk about the Basque people in literally every book he writes. No matter how irrelevant the topic. It's just his thing.
Peter Tillman
Here's a nice, enthusiastic review: (Paywalled. As always, I'm happy to email a copy to non-subscribers)
Kurlansky, you may recall is the COD guy.
It is a beautiful book, spangled throughout with stunning color photographs of a lovely fish, of pristine streams and landscapes. It’s a coffee-table book shrunk to shelf-size, but the images are pertinent and illuminating, and there is nothing throwaway about the text that surrounds them or about the re
Feb 03, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2021
Not Kurlansky’s best work but an interesting read. The history aspects are great and it’s always enjoyable to read about various locations around the world. However, the assertion that the survival of any one species is somehow “inextricably tied to the survival of the planet” is ludicrous. I believe most scientists in the field of biology, paleontology, botany, paleobotany, and many more would tell us that 99% of all living things have already gone extinct. Yet the planet is still here. Humans ...more
3.5 - Not my favorite of Kurlansky's - I enjoyed "Cod" quite a bit more. But it is certainly the most depressing of Kurlansky's that I've read thus far. Overall, the book served as yet another (in a long list) of reminders that the more modern humans are involved in something in the natural world, the worse off it is. ...more
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
My favorite conservation book of 2020.
Laura Trombley
Mar 24, 2020 rated it liked it
I love Mark Kurlansky's strolls through history and one element's role throughout time. "Salmon" is less like "Cod" but focuses more on the fate of salmon today and its indicator of the earth's health in general. It is a very good read. ...more
Catherine Puma
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Salmon" by Mark Kurlansky, the historian author renown for his books "Cod", "Salt", and "Paper", is the best nonfiction book I have read thus far this year. This book looks not just into the history of the salmon fisheries around the globe, but also into what we know and still do not know about different salmon species' biological and ecological requirements for survival. The environmental concerns we need to contend with when studying and managing this magnificent fish include:
- habitat loss
Stephen Pinna
Nov 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Mark Kurlansky is a skilled writer and the book has wonderful photography and recipes but this is a political book at it's core. As someone with a connection to aquaculture, I was pleasantly surprised by how fair he was to fish farms - though far more shocked by his treatment of hatcheries.

The book has research backing it but as the text admits at certain points, the scientific consensus is far from clear on many arguments made. In some sense, it can never be clear because the issues are more ph
Jim Folger
Mar 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
If, as the Bible says, God gave man dominion over all the earth and it’s creatures, he should have expounded on that by adding that it is up to man to exercise wise stewardship of the earth, lest he destroy it along with himself. Kurlansky’s book is most depressing in its depiction of man’s destruction of the environment and depletion of the salmon.

The reader is given some great insights into the varieties of salmon species and their lives. At the same time, we better understand the importance
Brogan Fairchilde
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was ok
This was a book I very much looked forward to but which left me quite shocked after its reading.

Poorly researched, scattergun approach to the salmon’s history with incredible statements about Scotland and the Scots ‘rebelling’ against English Law by poaching (we can’t do that unless we move to England to poach as in Scotland we have, erm, Scots Law). Generally it was badly written and repetitive, like a children’s history book written in an afternoon by a drunk.

When Kurlansky talked such paten
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title gives the story away – everything you wanted to know about Salmon but were afraid to ask. It is definitely an adult level read, but unlike the recent title “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes” by Dan Egan there is only one through line touching on some larger ecosystem issues, and it doesn’t quite reach a depth that was shown in Egan’s book. At some point it becomes evident that the ideal reader would be a sport fishing enthusiast as one chapter is a mini history of fly fishing. One ...more
Sep 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, kindle, non-fiction
A detailed description of the current state of the Salmon situation, as well as an overview of historical salmon fishing, farming and cooking. It is full of interesting tidbits, like the shocking fact that there are currently about 500'000 wild salmon in Norway - and 400 million farmed ones. Many rivers are slowly becoming habitable by salmon, thanks to improved environmental standards, dismantling of dams, enforced quotas and careful design of riversides. Salmon hatcheries have been around for ...more
Gary Miller
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I have previously read two of Mark Kurlansky's books, Cod and Salt. They have always been extremely well researched and documented, while still remaining interesting and readable. With this book, Mark swims against the current just like his subject, the salmon. Almost past the point of saving, it will be a difficult task to change the ways we act, in many areas, to just insure these noble creatures minimum survival. This book is, very much, a well documented call not just to action, but correcti ...more
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely LOVED this book. It ranks right up there with "Cod," also by the same author. For those who gave it a negative review, clearly you are not understanding the appreciation, history, and culture of this fish. The photographs and drawings are phenomenal and they alone are worth just picking up the book.

As someone who grew up in a household where fishing was predominate, I have an even greater appreciation for salmon.

I would highly recommend this book for your favorite fisherman, natur
Mar 23, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-in-print, 2021
In terms of sheer readability, I found this one harder going then some of Kurlansky's other works (e.g. Cod, Salt). But there's no denying the importance and impact of the message. Kurlansky is extremely effective in emphasising "the history of a common fate", showing how our history and that of Salmon is inextricably intertwined, as is our future - Salmon being a barometer of our overall progress in saving our planet. The message about the legacy of colonialism on our interaction with the natur ...more
Vince Deuschel
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Admittedly, I am a big fan of Kurlansky’s work. Salmon was not an exception. The intertwined history of the fish, it’s habitat, and man is what set’s the book apart.

The book is beautifully done - but the size, the unjacketed hard cover and the 422 pages made me feel as if I was luging around a text book. An odd and somewhat unpleasant feeling.

Do not skip the appendix - well worth the time.

Don  Kent
Apr 16, 2020 rated it liked it
When this author selects a subject he is extremely thorough in his research and reporting and this book is certainly no exception. The appendix, while a tough read, is especially scathing in placing the blame in the degradation of the future of this fascinationg species and likely the best part of the book.
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Mark Kurlansky is a brilliant historian and brings many facets to his writing. In this book the title tells a lot I'm sad to say. Those damn colonialists who decimated the natives' rights to their rivers and, thus, their sacred rituals. There are a lot of old and new recipes for salmon but after reading this I've lost my taste. ...more
Adam Weis
Oct 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
What other species transfer millions of pounds of nutrients from the ocean to the streams, and can prosper after over half their population is harvested? This was a good book that gives a great history of the relationship between humans and these incredible fish. I do wish it had discussed the science of salmon (their evolution, habitat, diet, mannerisms, etc.) more though.
I LOVED this book. I've always been passionate about the outdoors and have loved Salmon and this brought their entire history and history to life.

It was accessible and easy to read - filled with great stories that brought these amazing fish and those around them to life.

Highly recommend!!
Mar 24, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, foreword, hoopla
Reviewed for Foreword Books INDIES awards.

I definitely learned a lot about salmon and salmon conservation, but this book turned into a slog by the end. When the same story is true in the pacific northwest as is true in the Atlantic as is true in Japan as is not quite so true in Norway, I just feel like I'm reading the same chapter over and over and over and...
Mark Walsworth
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you like to fish and have experienced fishing for different species of salmon, this may be a good read. It can be a little like a college text at times and the author can be a little too peachy about climate change, but other than that, I found this an enjoyable book.
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. It's nice to see Kurlansky get a really nice quality product as well, with full page photos and illustrations. An in depth look at wild salmon, fisheries and hatcheries across the globe that is impeccably researched. ...more
Paulo Adalberto Reimann
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Awesome. Mark Kurlanski always great. His first book I have read is Salt. Since ten can not stop.
Nancy Ross
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another well-researched, well-written book by Kurlansky. As usual, I learned lots about the topic and enjoyed his wide-ranging commentary. And the photography is stunning.
Michael Crowe
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating read, and an incredible level of detail on history and life cycles
Terry Earley
Aug 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Classic, thorough Kurlansky treatment of a topic much broader than one would think. I learned a lot here.
Randa Pearson
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Maybe you like or care about salmon or not, but the author gives interesting history as you read about the fate of salmon...even recipes, poetry.
Patrick Maher
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely stunning. Everyone needs to read this book.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Body: A Guide for Occupants
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)
  • The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad, #2)
  • A Long Petal of the Sea
  • The Library Book
  • The Glass Hotel
  • QualityLand (QualityLand #1)
  • The Neon Lawyer
  • Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea
  • The House of the Spirits
  • This Tender Land
  • Night Theater
  • Civilized to Death: What Was Lost on the Way to Modernity
  • The Book of Delights
  • How to Argue With a Racist: What Our Genes Do (and Don't) Say About Human Difference
  • The Girl with the Louding Voice
  • Billy the Kid (Lucky Luke Adventure, #1)
See similar books…
Mark Kurlansky has written, edited, or contributed to twenty books, which have been translated into twenty-five languages and won numerous prizes. His previous books Cod, Salt, 1968, and The Food of a Younger Land were all New York Times best-sellers.

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
7 likes · 1 comments