Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World

Front Cover
Vintage, 1999 - Cod fisheries - 294 pages
947 Reviews
"Cod" spans a thousand years and four continents. From the Vikings, who pursued the codfish across the Atlantic, and the enigmatic Basques, who first commercialized it in medieval times, to Bartholomew Gosnold, who named Cape Cod in 1602, and Clarence Birdseye, who founded an industry on frozen cod in the 1930s, Mark Kurlansky introduces the explorers, merchants, writers, chefs, and of course the fishermen, whose lives have interwoven with this prolific fish. He chronicles the fifteenth-century politics of the Hanseatic League and the cod wars of the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. He embellishes his story with gastronomic detail, blending in recipes and lore from the Middle Ages to the present. And he brings to life the cod itself: its personality, habits, extended family, and ultimately the tragedy of how the most profitable fish in history is today faced with extinction. From fishing ports in New England and Newfoundland to coastal skiffs, schooners, and factory ships across the Atlantic; from Iceland and Scandinavia to the coasts of England, Brazil, and West Africa, Mark Kurlansky tells a story that brings world history and human passions into captivating focus.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
219
4 stars
417
3 stars
251
2 stars
46
1 star
14

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
Kurlansky is an amazing writer. - Goodreads
The text even has recipes scattered throughout it. - Goodreads

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

User Review  - Kathleen - Goodreads

Another interesting read from Mark Kurlansky. His books Salt and The Basque History of the World intersect in subject matter with Cod, but each is unique in content. The recipes and quotes round out the book into a fun read. Read full review

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

User Review  - Lukas Evan - Goodreads

Original title: "The Codfather." Read full review

About the author (1999)

Mark Kurlansky is the author of several bestselling non-fiction titles including Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (winner of the Glenfiddich Best Food Book Award), The Basque History of the World, Salt: A World History, 1968: The Year that Rocked the World, a short story collection The White Man in the Tree and a novel, Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue.

Bibliographic information