Truly all that can be said of salt is written in these pages, however, that said it was very interesting and did hold my interest. I did learn many trivia points concerning other historical points and facts of items one would not readily attribute to salt. I would recommend reading this as a fill in while reading another book, it can be a bit much.
A book about the history of salt sounds like it should really be marketed as a cure for insomnia, but it was actually really interesting! Living in a modern, industrialized country with many options for shipping or preserving foods, it's easy to take salt for granted and overlook it. But for most of human history, salt was a big freaking deal. Such a big deal, entire wars were fought over it and the fates of nations were determined by it (for example, the Great Wall of China and the military to keep back the Mongolians were both paid for by taxes on salt and iron). It was really cool to learn about the many different ways people have invented to harvest salt and the thousands upon thousands of uses they've found for it. I really enjoyed this book.
Fascinating journey through world history. You will be amazed at the importance of salt's role in world civilization. We think of it today as merely a seasoning, but its preservative and disinfectant qualities made it indispensable in days gone by. Well written.
This book is full of interesting historical notes on the culinary and other uses of salt....along with the impact of salt on the economic and social tides of many countries. The author jumps around a bit in time period and some segments of the book felt like short research papers stuck into the middle of the book. If you are interested in geography, science, culinary arts and history, you will likely enjoy this.
A good read--works well with Kurlansky's other two books--Basque History of the World and Cod. This one is a little more disjointed than these other two books but will hold your attention from chapter to chapter.
I enjoyed the book overall but sometimes it feels a bit like a stream of consciousness that doesn't effectively follow a single topic, instead jumping around a lot. That said, it was an easy read and was highly informative about how salt has truly shaped human evolution and the rise and fall of civilizations around the world.
Having really enjoyed Mark's "Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World" I thought I would be more into this one. First, I felt it was a bit repetitive of a lot of the history in "Cod" since much of the cod industry depended on having adequate supplies of salt to preserve the fish. Second, compared to "Cod," I thought "Salt" was lacking some of the geo-political color that made cod relevant, which left me only interested in the local (American) parts of the book. Perhaps it would be better to just choose one of the two to read, instead of trying to tackle both.
This was a thoroughly informative book on salt and its impact on world history. I learned many new things including the fact that the word stem "-wich" as in Norwich means salt works and that there's a rock salt mine 1,200 feet below Detroit.
Did you know salt makes the world go round? Wars have been fought over it. It might even be said salt is the foundation of civilization. I learned so much from this book.
Just as an example:
The book constantly hit me with amazing facts. For example, what images arise when you think of Detroit? Okay, so it's not automotive plants anymore. But from now on I'll think of salt. Why? Well, Cargill operates a salt mine 1,200 feet below Detroit. It covers more than 1,400 underground acres and has 50 miles of roads.
But this somewhat pales in comparison with the salt mine under Avery Island in Louisiana. I've been there. It's the home of the McIIHenny and Avery Tabasco factory. The day I went, I had congestion from a cold. I walked into the Tabasco production area and my head cleared instantly! I kid you not. They should package that air and sell it as an over-the-counter cold relief. The island sits on a salt dome thought to be 40,000 feet deep. Cargill also mines that salt dome. The mine is dug in rooms 60 x 100 feet with 28 foot ceilings. The mine is currently 1,600 feet deep.
Most of the salt in the above mines is used to de-ice America's roads.
By the title, you might think this is a pretty dull book, but it is not. I found it very fascinating to learn the history of salt from thousands of years B.C. to modern day, the lengths to which people would go to obtain it, and the methods ancient peoples invented and used. The applications discovered during the Industrial Age, along with new compounds based on salt, were amazing. The research was in depth and extensive. Easy to read, but perhaps not all in one setting, it is best broken down into small segments in order to savor the information in small doses, the way we need to do when eating salt. :-) Highly recommend if you enjoy history!