I must confess that my ignorance of salt was thoroughly exposed. I was both educated and entertained by this book, a great combination!
The fundamental human need for salt has had far greater impact on civilization than I would have ever imagined. This book abounds in fun and interesting facts and historical reference. As reviewer Thomas states quite nicely, "This is one of those books that just opens your eyes to something you never knew."
Contrary to a few reviews that were less than thrilled at the pace of the book or the inclusion of details such as ancient recipes, I found that the book moved at a pace appropriate to the high level of detail and, for me, it is the precisely the extensive detail that makes the narrative so compelling. While it may be enough for some to hear that, "Salt was important in the Roman diet", I found the author's method of illustrating exactly HOW it was important, such as the inclusion of recipes, or formulas, or method for curing fish, meat, etc., helped to integrate the subject matter directly into the everyday lives of our ancestors in a more vivid and meaningful way. I respectfully suggest that the depth and impact of the book would suffer if such details had been left out.
Acclaimed narrator, Scott Brick, does a masterful job of bringing the story of salt to life. The sound quality and audio production is excellent. Highly recommended.
I will never think of history the same way again. Lots of cool, little twists on historical trends, large and small. Very engaging book.
"fabric artist and quilter"
I would never have expected a book on simple NaCl would have been so interesting - I knew it was essential to our wellbeing but the wonder of its uses and the way it has been exploited was riveting listening.
60-year-old retired library worker, some college , married 30 years, husband retired railroad yardman. one son, 18 years old. God does have a sense of humor!
"Salt" is the kind of history I wanted from "Catching Fire"; an anecdotal recounting of the uses and abuses of salt across history and around the world: its use a money, political fodder, tax-base and the cause and excuse for riot and revolution. I had no idea how varied the types of salt mining and the many different kinds of salt there were and are.
I enjoyed Kurlansky's book, Cod, and expected to enjoy this as much. However, the extensive details on salt and its myriad uses and values over the centuries turned out to be more than I really want to know. It's a look at history through a salt lens, if you will, which appeals to me, but it felt a bit like a long list of facts rather than a connected, compelling story. I had to force myself to listen to it because I want to refer to it in my college class, but it was not one of those riveting stories you don't want to put down.
I have to agree with other reviewers: this book is long, so very long and -I'll just come right out and say it -often pretty boring. Sure, there are plenty of interesting historical bits, but they are interspersed with repetitive descriptions of salt works and salt making techniques and the aforementioned interminable recipes for salted fish. It's an effect not unlike Bubba's enumeration of shrimp dishes in "Forrest Gump." When I saw that the same author has also written a book on cod, I thought, "Good god! What is it with this guy and fish?"
I got this book for a long trip and found that I quit about halfway through when he repeatedly talked about salting fish and ancient recipes. There is no doubt that the history of salt is very interesting but the book went on too long. On this trip I moved on to "All the Shah's Men" which was engrossing account of some of the history of the US involvement in Iran.
audio book junkie
I wanted read this book since I heard Mark Kurlansky interviewed in NPR years ago. In the interview I remember thinking, "wow! I didn't know the history of salt could be so interesting" but in reality, in listening to this book, it was just a good old fashion bore. I made it 7 of the 14 hours so if it really picks up in the second half than I apologize for this bad review. I'd say a combined 10 minutes of every hour was interesting, so I got 1 hour 10 minutes of interesting history and 5 hours and 50 minutes of boring. I whole-hardheartedly believe life is too short for that ratio.
Not sure why this book was a miss for me, I'm generally a fan of non-fiction - historical books, maybe this topic just wasn't up my alley.
Great research and eye opening history. A bit more detail and length than I would have liked but learned a lot. Makes you realize how seemingly unimportant things, like salt, can have such a impact on civilization.
For some reason, salt has been written out of history. You hear about gold, silver, sugar, silk, all kinds of commodities, but not salt. Why this is, I do not know. You will never look at food the same way again I expect. I love food history and general history and this kind of very specific angle book which looks through a prism and expands. So this was right up my alley, but I think anyone who can take pleasure in a high intellectual read, that is a bit dry at times, will enjoy this. The book is well organized and touches on a lot of places, eras, wars, theories, and leaders. The brief "caption biography" of Ghandi was one highlight. So are tidbits and anecdotes about Roquefort cheese (if you've never had it you will miss out on the humor of that story: it is glorius by the way, so go buy some if you can find it) and the first champion of Roquefort Cheese, as well as Christianity: Charlemagne, about the staggering difference in salt consumption up to the 20th century and since the 20th century, and about Vikings, Celts, Soddom and Gommora and Lot's Wife! (that cryptic bible story debunked) and lots of others.
The only reason I do not give it 5 stars is I have heard Scott Brick read about 10 books now, and he is always good, but I am very very sick of his voice and his slow, measured, perfect pauses and emphases always put at the same point in the sentence- you could hand me any book in any genre and I could do a killer Scott Brick impression. He's pretty much the scourge of my life at this point. An excellent narrator though if you've never heard him before. This is the type of book Thomas Pynchon must read.