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Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

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  • ISBN 10 0142001619
  • ISBN 13 9780142001615
  • Published Feb 11 2003
  • Format Paperback
  • Language English
  • Publisher Penguin Classics

Publishers Text

Homer called salt divine. Plato described it as especially dear to the gods. As Mark Kurlansky so brilliantly relates in his world-encompassing new book, salt has shaped civilization from the beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of mankind. So valuable that it has often served as currency (and still does in places today), salt inspired the earliest trade routes across unknown oceans and the remotest deserts. Wars have been fought over salt, and while salt taxes secured empires across Europe and Asia, they have also inspired revolution (Gandhi's salt march in 1930 began the overthrow of British rule in India).

Veined with colorful characters from Li Bing, the Chinese bureaucrat who built the world's first dam in 250 BC, to Pattillo Higgins and Anthony Lucas, who drilled an east Texas salt dome in 1901 and discovered an oil reserve so large it gave birth to the age of petroleum. Salt encompasses fields as disparate as engineering, religion, and food, all of which Kurlansky richly explores. Salt revenues have funded some of the greatest public works in history, including the Erie Canal, while salt's ability to preserve and to sustain life has made it a metaphorical symbol in all religions. Just as significantly, as Kurlanksy, an award-wining food writer, relates, salt has molded eating habits and culture the world over.

From America's oldest salt mine on Avery Island in Louisiana to rural Sichuan province where the last home-made soy sauce is made, Mark Kurlansky has produced a kaleidoscope of world history, a multi-layered masterpiece that blends political, commercial, scientific, religious, and culinary records into a rich and memorable tale.



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