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Mark Kurlansky
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Sal: Historia de la única piedra comestible

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  41,206 Ratings  ·  2,680 Reviews
Mark Kurlansky, the bestselling author of Cod and The Basque History of the World, here turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as cur ...more
508 pages
Published 2003 by Ediciones Península (first published January 1st 2002)
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Michael Ever heard the phrase "the dose makes the poison"? Everything is toxic if you reach the right dose, salt included. Salt is a critical nutrient to most…moreEver heard the phrase "the dose makes the poison"? Everything is toxic if you reach the right dose, salt included. Salt is a critical nutrient to most animal diets, drop it too low, and you'll end up with hyponatremia. Luckily this is a rare risk in modern diets.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Jane
Nov 27, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Petra Eggs
I read several chapters of this. It was mind-numbingly boring. Lists, lists, lists of everything that has ever been done with salt. What different countries, cultures and times have done with salt. The word salt in many different languages. That old thing about salary being the precious salt that the Romans paid their military in, right. I was praying for a relief from the tedium of this book. But all I got was the odd not-at-all interesting anecdote. I don't know how the rest of the book progre ...more
أَحْمَد

عثرت على هذا الكتاب فى سور الازبكية يوم السبت الماضى فى معرض الكتاب واشتريته بخمسة جنيهات بعدما ترددت فى شرائه فقد قرأت مقدمته ثم تركته وذهبت ولم يطاوعنى قلبى فعدت اليه مرة اخرى فاشتريته ، ...
هو عن تاريخ الملح ..تلك المادة البلورية البيضاء التى لها لون الثلج التى نستحدمها فى المطابخ وعلى موائد الطعام عدة مرات يوميا ً ..تلك المادة سريعة الذوبان التى لا يتخيل احد عدد الدول التى ' ذابت ' فى التاريخ من أجلها ..تلك المادة سهلة الضياع فى الماء .التى كانت سببا فى ضياع دماء الملايين من البشر من أجل الف

...more
Amos
Mar 05, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was the first so-called "commodity history" that I've read, and I'm sorry to say it might have turned me completely off the damn things. I'm not entirely sure why this book is so popular and so widely read, since it strikes me as simply a series of stories by Mark Kurlansky that quickly settle into the same basic mantra, which is: 1) Here is this culture; 2) Like the twenty other cultures I have just introduced to you, salt was also important to this culture; 3) These are the ways they gath ...more
Laura
Sep 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
This book changed my life. I picked it up because fiction novels were all looking the same to me, and because it was thick enough to last the long train ride from Dusseldorf to Maastricht. School textbooks were the only non-fiction I'd ever read, and they had not prepared me for the vibrant and engaging writing found in Salt. Since reading this book I have become a devoted fan of non-fiction writing, which has exposed me to a whole new world of literature.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Well, I'll be pickled!
We say we'll take something with a grain of salt as if it's nothing, but much of the history of the world is tied up in the quest for salt. It's not nothing. We're fortunate to have it in such abundance that we can take it for granted and worry about getting too much of it in our diets. For most of human existence that was not the case.

The material here is thorough and often fascinating, but you must have a strong interest in history if you hope to get through it. Had I t
...more
J
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mark Kurlansky is a historical writer who does what one reviewer referred to as the “little-big” style of writing, that is to say, he takes something little and often overlooked and from it he spins out larger truths about society and the world. To say that he does this well would be an understatement.

Salt: A World History, his fascinating history of this overlooked cooking seasoning, makes a couple very good points in its introduction. Because of its current cheapness and easy availability, we
...more
Chrissie
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 th ...more
rivka
Apr 11, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those looking for factoids more than facts, and entertainment more than academic rigor
Shelves: non-fiction
While certainly an interesting and often entertaining read, with many historic details I had never heard before, this book is seriously flawed in several ways.

It has a bibliography, but no footnotes or endnotes. Given that on those subjects that I had detailed pre-knowledge, I found details that were misinterpreted, glossed over, or just plain wrong, I can only assume the same is true for the subjects I didn't know about before reading this book. But without detailed endnotes (which a book of th
...more
Elana
Oct 17, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

AIYIYI... I just couldn't take this book. I was determined to read it after I chose it for a challenge I had entered but my goodness was it a struggle. I don't know if it was because I had just finished a textbook size of a book that was purely about science (A Short History of Nearly Everything) and was in major fiction withdrawal, or the fact that this book was breathtakingly boring, but I could literally not read more than 15 pages before I actually started to drift off into a deep slumber.
...more
Chrisl
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, dew600s, 2000s, world
Was impressed. Here's one of those professional reviews
KIRKUS REVIEW

A lively social history that does for salt what Kurlansky previously did for Cod (1997).

Perhaps the author slightly oversells his subject by claiming it is far more important and interesting than the evolution of language or the harnessing of fire. But maybe he has a point: Without salt, Kurlansky states at the outset, there would be no life, let alone a nifty preservative for everything from herring to mummies. Salt keeps the
...more
Grumpus
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, audiobook
This is based upon the audio download from [www.Audible.com]

Narrated by: Scott Brick

The legendary pipes of Scott Brick did little to enhance this biography of the ubiquity of salt. The book is a curate’s egg—there are dull parts but there are also some very interesting parts. I didn't think it possible to have someone talk about salt for 13 hours and 43 minutes but it was.

The book begins with facts about salt and the sharing of some of the salt industry’s 14,000 uses for salt. It was interesting
...more
Cricket
Dec 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
You know you're a writing tutor when you fantasize about conversing with the author over his organization strategies.No, seriously. I had an entire dialog in my head about it. How did you organize this book? Does each section have a main concept or idea? Does every chapter and/or paragraph help move towards this idea? Can you find any that don't? Let's read through some of these paragraphs together and you can tell me where you think something might be tangential to the main idea.

This book meand
...more
Benjamin
450 pages is a lot of salt. Though interesting by the end I was very ready to be done with it.
Becky
May 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, food-drink
I hate to give this a 3/5 I really do. I cannot tell you how many times I picked up and put down this book in stores across the nation.... maybe that should have been my sign.

Don't boo me, but this was dry. There were sections that were legitimately interesting, but there were sections that just needed more editing, they needed to be trimmed down. Also, I dont know how I would personally fix this, but the layout of the book seemed to need changed. It was largely geographically based, so then lar
...more
Kian
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Foodies
The history of salt is super interesting, and I learned a lot of amazing facts about human history from reading this book, BUT... the editing was pretty bad. I mean, it has to be pretty bad for you to actually notice that a book is really poorly written. Chapters would end out of nowhere, there were tons of non-sequiturs, etc. It got progressively worse as I got through the book- and then towards the end it became an advertisement for Mortons Salt. I'd recommend this book from a library, but not ...more
mim
Jul 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a book! As I was reading it, I wavered between "this is so dense with facts and boring" to "this is sooo interesting." Well, it's both. There were parts that I skimmed over and parts that made me share them immediately. I would want to stop reading then would come to a part about either a place I've visited or a know about from some reason or other, and then I'd be drawn back into the book. I learned a lot, that's for sure. The part dealing with chemistry interested me a great deal. I was s ...more
Leila
Dec 17, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think this book should have been called Salt: It's Dry. I'm about 25% through it and I'm throwing in the towel (and possibly tossing salt over my shoulder for luck). There was just nothing about the writing or the information presented that was even mildly interesting. Moving on...
Quin
Aug 05, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
the author read everything there is to read about salt. then he relentlessly put every bit of it in this book. you will wish for the end waay before you get there, i promise.
Jason
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful exploration into the role this substance has played in the human grand narrative.
The first two thirds were very informative and interesting, but it wasn't until I got to the section about India that I was totally enthralled. The story of how Ghandi used the British imposed salt laws, and his disobedience of them, to gain freedom for his country was truly riveting.
I can't help but draw parallels between this story and other moments in history. It's long been a fact that civic rebell
...more
Dena
Dec 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was completely fascinating! Sure, human population didn't really take off until we started staying put in one place and domesticating animals and crops, but what do you think preserved those food staples? Salt! Salt didn't just play a role with how we preserve food, but entire wars and civilizations rose and fell due (in part) to their hold on salt. Seriously! Venice became a huge European powerhouse in the middle ages because of their saltworks, and I learned that salt even played a p ...more
Teresa Lukey
This book is about so much more than salt. A friend asked me what I was listening oo while listening to this one and they thought it sounded like an absurd thing to read about. I'm inclined to believe that many people might turn away from this book based on that fact, but I found it to be chalked full of so many interesting facts from some of the earliest history.

I found all the information presented in the book a little overwhelming at times and I do believe I would have given it 5 stars had I
...more
Erica
Feb 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my most-favorite non-fiction book. I find it fascinating and enjoy something new every time I read or listen to it.
Barbara
This audiobook was a real slog. At almost 14 hours long, I had to speed it up to 1.5 speed to get through it. Of course it's my own fault for imagining a book this long about salt could be engaging. Nonetheless there were some interesting factoids I collected. There were fights centuries ago in England when people's land started caving in when salt brine was extracted from subterranean levels. At the time if I got this right, people actually retained the rights to what was under their land. But ...more
Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton
For a guy who literally looks like the Dos Equis man, Mark Kurlansky has managed to find some of the least interesting subject matter I could imagine and turn them into full histories. Whether it's salt (this one), cod (1988), oysters (2005), or the Basques (1991)...well, okay. A history of the Basques sounds like it has some potential.

My point is: Kurlansky seems to look around for the driest subjects and then to begin to research the heck out of it. And yes, he really does look like the Dos Eq
...more
Olivia
May 14, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I have tried to digest this book called Salt, especially as a food reviewer, and a history buff in training, but I think I will throw it over my left shoulder as I can't get past the taste of the endless first chapter on ancient Asian governments.

The book is pretty well written and full of great pictures and interesting salty tid-bits, but maybe its a bit too ambitious to try to tell the history of the world through a pure salt perspective?!

The value of the mineral, and the elaborate way it was
...more
Tracey
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
...more
Courtney
Dec 23, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Officially two stars is supposed to mean "it was okay" and one star is supposed to signify "I didn't like it," but there are many degrees of books I dislike and this one was moderately better than it could have been. The writing is OK, Kurlanky has energy, but he attacked this work of non-fiction with no clear agenda.

If there's a thesis beyond "salt is important," Kurlansky fails to articulate it. If there's a logic to how this book is organized, that's not clear either. Chapters don't seem to
...more
Cy
An interesting survey of the geography and politics of salt. A hodgepodge of random information about how a small but essential substance has indelibly impacted from Israeli tourist development on the Dead Sea to elite fascination with touring underground salt mines to variations in Chinese cuisine and health contingent upon salt availability. Salt: A World History is an example of the kind of historiography I truly enjoy. Rather than trying to discuss an entire country, continent or civilizatio ...more
First Second Books
I love this cover!

Also I know no more things about salting fish than is reasonable for any human to know, much less a vegetarian-type human.

One of the things this book makes me wonder is, are the subjects of books always so central? One of the chapters of this book basically runs, ‘Salt is THE turning point to the US Civil War,’ which seems fine when you’re reading, but when you think about it, you’re like – slavery, states’ rights, railroads, etc. etc. etc., all of which also seem like they co
...more
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1847
Mark Kurlansky (born 7 December 1948 in Hartford, Connecticut) is a highly-acclaimed American journalist and writer of general interest non-fiction. He is especially known for titles on eclectic topics, such as cod or salt.

Kurlansky attended Butler University, where he harbored an early interest in theatre and earned a BA in 1970. However, his interest faded and he began to work as a journalist in
...more
More about Mark Kurlansky...

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“In every age, people are certain that only the things they have deemed valuable have true value. The search for love and the search for wealth are always the two best stories. But while a love story is timeless, the story of a quest for wealth, given enough time, will always seem like the vain pursuit of a mirage.” 25 likes
“modern people have seen too many chemicals and are ready to go back to eating dirt.” 12 likes
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