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 This book abounds in fun and interesting facts and historical reference.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 was really looking forward to this but I have to say that this is the most pedantic book I have purchased so far--and I love the books on geology! Just imagine my fortitude. I don't blame the writer, I blame the reader. This is a difficult book and he managed to make it so completely devoid of soul that I actually had to stop reading it because I thought I would become so devoid of the will to live, while at the wheel of my car, that I would have to drive into another car just to be in accord with the deathly drum beat of the reader. Please get another reader--I'll buy it again just for the relief.
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.