In what he says is the most important piece of environmental writing in his long and award-winning career, Mark Kurlansky, best-selling author of Salt and Cod, The Big Oyster, 1968, and Milk, among many others, employs his signature multi-century storytelling and compelling attention to detail to chronicle the harrowing yet awe-inspiring life cycle of salmon.
During his research Kurlansky traveled widely and observed salmon and those who both pursue and protect them in the Pacific and the Atlantic, in Ireland, Norway, Iceland, Japan, and even the robust but not as frequently visited Kamchatka Peninsula. This world tour reveals an eras-long history of man's misdirected attempts to manipulate salmon and its environments for his own benefit and gain, whether for entertainment or to harvest food.
In addition, Kurlansky's research shows that all over the world these fish, uniquely connected to both marine and terrestrial ecology as well as fresh and salt water, are a natural barometer for the health of the planet. He documents that for centuries man's greatest assaults on nature, from overfishing to dams, from hatcheries to fish farms, from industrial pollution to the ravages of climate change, are evidenced in the sensitive life cycle of salmon.
With stunning historical and contemporary photographs and illustrations throughout, Kurlansky's insightful conclusion is that the only way to save salmon is to save the planet and, at the same time, the only way to save the planet is to save the mighty, heroic salmon.
Mark Kurlansky is the New York Times bestselling author of Havana, Cod, Salt, Paper, The Basque History of the World, 1968, and The Big Oyster, among other titles. He has received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, Bon Appetit's Food Writer of the Year Award, the James Beard Award, and the Glenfiddich Award. His articles have appeared in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including The International Herald Tribune, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Miami Herald, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine, Partisan Review, Harper’s, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, Audubon Magazine, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Bon Apetit, and Parade. He lives in New York City
"It is a beautiful book, spangled throughout with stunning color photographs of a lovely fish, of pristine streams and landscapes. It's a coffee-table book shrunk to shelf-size, but the images are pertinent and illuminating, and there is nothing throwaway about the text that surrounds them or about the recipes for salmon dishes from all over the world and past centuries."
– Wall Street Journal
"What Kurlansky did for Cod, he now does for Salmon – a book not just for fishermen, but for everyone who cares about our world. A blistering account of "civilised " man's blind obsession with bending Nature and its resources to his will."
– Geoffrey Palmer OBE
"Mark Kurlansky's book is an epic, environmental tragedy, with the salmon at its centre as the abused hero [...] one of the great strengths of Kurlanksy's book is the way he links the fish's plight to so many major environmental concerns [...] Kurlanksy is at his best when illuminating the lives of people who have been disregarded in the name of progress."
"More than an environmental book about overfishing, the text includes a comprehensive natural and cultural history about how the salmon impacts the world [...] A fascinating mosaic of history and science [...] The real beauty of the book is in its subtle transformation of a species often thought of in terms of food into one that needs to be considered with care and even championed."
– Foreword Reviews
"[A] handsomely illustrated work of natural history and environmental advocacy [...] In championing a critically important part of the natural world, Kurlansky sounds an urgent alarm that commands our attention."
"If there was ever a totem species for the planet, it's the noble salmon – back and forth between ocean and stream, between salt and fresh water, these creatures have nurtured our imagination as surely as our bodies. This book does them justice!"
– Bill McKibben