Author: Mark Kurlansky
Salt is essential to life but it has not always been easily accessible so its trade has been a major part of economies from the beginning. Salt covers a lot of ground. Kurlansky's thorough account hits five continents over thousands of years. He begins with the mining innovations of ancient China and finishes with the Morton Salt company. In between, he spends most of the book in various corners of Europe but a few chapters are devoted to the impact on Asia and the New World, too. Apart from food, salt has had numerous industrial applications over the centuries: making gunpowder, curing leather, mining silver, deicing roads, etc. Salt use has diminished over the past century but remains essential today.
As with Cod, Salt leaves no doubt as to the importance of its subject matter. Even so, the text is dense at times and some chapters were tougher to get through than others, slipping into that one-damn-thing-after-another feel that is the peril of any history text. All I want is high intellectual stimulation with trashy-novel digestibility. Is that really so much to ask? I am glad to have finally finished the book. I didn't enjoy it as much as I did Cod but it's certainly a worthwhile read.