Cod: A Biography Of The Fish That Changed The World

Front Cover
Knopf Canada, Mar 4, 2011 - History
508 Reviews
Wars have been fought over it, revolutions have been spurred by it, national diets have been based on it, economies have depended on it, and the settlement of North America was driven by it. Cod, it turns out, is the reason Europeans set sail across the Atlantic, and it is the only reason they could. What did the Vikings eat in icy Greenland and on the five expeditions to America recorded in the Icelandic sagas? Cod -- frozen and dried in the frosty air, then broken into pieces and eaten like hardtack. What was the staple of the medieval diet? Cod again, sold salted by the Basques, an enigmatic people with a mysterious, unlimited supply of cod.

Cod is a charming tour of history with all its economic forces laid bare and a fish story embellished with great gastronomic detail. It is also a tragic tale of environmental failure, of depleted fishing stocks where once the cod's numbers were legendary. In this deceptively whimsical biography of a fish, Mark Kurlansky brings a thousand years of human civilization into captivating focus.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Outstanding. Entertaining as well as educational. - Goodreads
The recipes, however, did nothing for me. - Goodreads
Great book, easy to read yet revealing. - Goodreads
An engaging, quirky little history with a sad ending. - Goodreads
The text even has recipes scattered throughout it. - Goodreads
Kurlansky is an amazing writer. - Goodreads

Review: Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World

User Review  - Michael Rodgers-wilson - Goodreads

More fantastic research from this author. Really interesting from cover to cover. It's. not just about the fish but all of the social history tha surrounds it including a "war" between Iceland and the UK. Read full review

Review: Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World

User Review  - Kim - Goodreads

The codfish lays a thousand eggs The homely hen lays one. The codfish never cackles To tell you what she's done. And so we scorn the codfish While the humble hen we prize Which only goes to show you That it pays to advertise. Read full review


Sentry on the Headlands
A Few New Ideas Versus Nine
Requiem for the Grand Banks
The Dangerous Waters of Natures
Bracing for the Spanish Armada
Bracing for the Canadian Armada

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Mark Kurlansky worked for several years on commercial fishing boats in Canada and the US, and subsequently became a journalist, covering beats in Eastern and Western Europe, the Caribbean, and Latin America for the Chicago Tribune and the International Herald Tribune. He has written for magazines including Harper's, Audubon, and the New York Times Magazine, and contributes a column on food history to Food & Wine magazine. In addition to Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, he is the author of A Continent of Islands: Searching for the Caribbean Destiny, A Chosen Few: The Resurrection of European Jewry, The Basque History of the World, and Salt: A World History. He lives in New York City.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Bibliographic information