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Margaret Visser: Mega-Fish, 16 April 1998

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World 
by Mark Kurlansky.
Cape, 294 pp., £12.99, March 1998, 0 224 05104 0
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... off the American Atlantic coast may well have drawn the very first Europeans to the continent: Mark Kurlansky provides evidence that not only Viking explorers but Basque fishermen were there long before Columbus – they kept secret the source of their mysterious supplies of fish. Reports, never forgotten, came back from America during the 16th ...

If they’re ill, charge them extra

James Meek: Flamingo Plucking, 21 March 2002

Salt: A World History 
by Mark Kurlansky.
Cape, 452 pp., £17.99, February 2002, 0 224 06084 8
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Salt: Grain of Life 
by Pierre Laszlo, translated by Mary Beth Mader.
Columbia, 220 pp., £15.95, July 2001, 0 231 12198 9
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... few decades ago. The island’s trees were cut down for the salt works, and the land has dried up. Mark Kurlansky, who went there, describes meeting elderly salt veterans, Belongers, who recall that with wages of a shilling and sixpence a day for hard labour shifting salt sacks, and with no alternative employment, they might as well have been ...

Ropes, Shirts or Dirty Socks

Adam Smyth: Paper, 15 June 2017

Paper: Paging through History 
by Mark Kurlansky.
Norton, 416 pp., £12.99, June 2017, 978 0 393 35370 9
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... and animal bones. What did it mean to cut divination texts into the shoulder blades of a deer? Mark Kurlansky’s Paper: Paging through History begins in second-century China and briskly traces paper’s spread to Vietnam, India and Tibet. By the eighth century there were paper mills operating in Japan producing paper with no yellowing acid content: a ...

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