Rape of the Sea – Book Review “Cod”

Rape of the Sea – Book Review “Cod”


by Mark Kurlansky

A Cod fish, seems innocent enough, yet has created international fighting, gunshots,  territorial wars and innovations that have indeed raped the sea.

 This book is a incredible cross curriculum look at what on the surface is simple, in reality
is a complex issue stemming from centuries old fishing practices to politics of today. The pre 20th century fisherman of the Grand Banks and Georges Banks,could never have imagined the calamity
 that over fishing would create. Their system of hooks and lines,fisherman in a dory boat, was a slow and tedious task I first learned of from “Captains Courageous” by Rudyard Kipling. The new system, so efficient it stripped the sea and population of a simple fish that fed the world.

Bottom draggers became the economical way for fisherman to take a great haul of fish. So great a haul that few remain of a species. Disbelief that the Cod and a way of life was disappearing the fisherman continued to fight over the fishing grounds that lay off shore their native lands. The fish are so depleted, I feel a sense of guilt when seeing Cod listed on a menu, or offered in the market fish case.

Mark Kurlansky has  researched and gathered the history of Cod fishing into a very readable book. It’s pages filled with the everyday lives of fisherman and  a timeline of world history as it relates to Cod. Kings and Queens, revolutionaries and enterprising men of the sea, all took part in the story of the Cod’s demise.

A favorite quote ( there are many from history in the book) from the book Cod by Mark Kurlansky:

“Salt fish were stacked on the wharves, looking like corded wood, Maple and Yellow Birch with the bark left on. I mistook them for this at first, in one sense they were, – fuel to maintain our vital fires – an Eastern wood which grew on the Grand Banks.”
                                                     Henry David Thoreau  Cape Cod 1851

Yes, Cape Cod, all of a sudden the name makes such sense, for her shores were lined with the fisheries, and her cities built on the sales of Cod. So innate to life on the Cape was Cod  that the sea chantey singers  had a tune about it!

Let me add these few words Mark Kurlansky quoted in the book to entice you to buy and read:

“The Codfish lays a thousand eggs
The homely hen lays one.
The Codfish never cackles
To tell you that she’s done.
And so we scorn the Codfish
While the humble hen we prize
Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise.
                                        anonymous American rhyme

Mark Kurlansky has written a great book. I was so impressed with it I just had to share everyone.

Looking to buy or download Cod? Go here: http://amzn.to/Q5OYm3

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