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The Independent Culture

by Mark Kurlansky,

Vintage, pounds 7.99


THE VIKINGS ate it dried, the West Indian slaves and Basques ate it salted, the Pilgrim Fathers ate so much of it that they were called "fish" by native Americans. The vast Atlantic cod shoals had a profound effect on the history of the West. Now, overfishing has wiped out the New England industry. This fishy yarn runs aground with a dreary section on maritime disputes. Though bolstered by a handful of recipes, it should not have won the Glenfiddich award for food book of the year. That should have gone to Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything.