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The Last Fish Tale by Mark Kurlansky
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The Last Fish Tale

by Mark Kurlansky

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I enjoyed this book immensely. Kurlansky's got a deft hand with historical detail and an understated humor that sneaks up on a person.

His sympathetic and understanding portrait of the fishermen of Gloucester was eye-opening to me. All the books I've read about the current fishery crisis before this tended to hold the fishermen at least 60% responsible for the state of the ocean. Kurlansky begs to differ, and presents a very good case for the fishermen's side.

I was also pleasantly surprised to learn more about some artists, including Edward Hopper, who called Gloucester home.

Recommended for anyone with the slightest bit of interest in fisheries or historical fish tales. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Much has been written about the cod fishery around Gloucester, however I loved that this book longed to capture more than the struggles of the fishery itself. The feel of the town leaps of the page, and I love how Kurlanksy mixes in snippets of local traditions and recipes. An enjoyable read. ( )
  kenno82 | Jul 22, 2011 |
Mark Kurlansky, author of excellent books about Cod and Salt, takes on the unique fishing town of Gloucester, Massachusetts in this work. Kurlansky approaches Gloucester from all angles with a historical survey stretching back to colonial times (and earlier), cultural and sociological insights into Gloucester people, and every so often throws in a traditional seafood recipe for good measure. Mostly though, this is a book about Gloucester's life blood - the fisheries and the commercial fisherman who sail out into them. In fact, Kurlansky ventures far beyond Gloucester to Canada, Britain, and Europe to other fishing villages who essentially share the same ecosystem and suffer the same fate of fishing villages in a time of dwindling stocks, pollutions, and sometimes counterproductive government regulation. This is a fascinating and lively book and I really enjoyed a learning a bit about a town so close to home, yet so distinctly separate. ( )
1 vote Othemts | Jun 18, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345487273, Hardcover)

The bestselling author of Cod, Salt, and The Big Oyster has enthralled readers with his incisive blend of culinary, cultural, and social history. Now, in his most colorful, personal, and important book to date, Mark Kurlansky turns his attention to a disappearing way of life: fishing–how it has thrived in and defined one particular town for centuries, and what its imperiled future means for the rest of the world.

The culture of fishing is vanishing, and consequently, coastal societies are changing in unprecedented ways. The once thriving fishing communities of Rockport, Nantucket, Newport, Mystic, and many other coastal towns from Newfoundland to Florida and along the West Coast have been forced to abandon their roots and become tourist destinations instead. Gloucester, Massachusetts, however, is a rare survivor. The livelihood of America’s oldest fishing port has always been rooted in the life and culture of commercial fishing.

The Gloucester story began in 1004 with the arrival of the Vikings. Six hundred years later, Captain John Smith championed the bountiful waters off the coast of Gloucester, convincing new settlers to come to the area and start a new way of life. Gloucester became the most productive fishery in New England, its people prospering from the seemingly endless supply of cod and halibut. With the introduction of a faster fishing boat–the schooner–the industry flourished. In the twentieth century, the arrival of Portuguese, Jews, and Sicilians turned the bustling center into a melting pot. Artists and writers such as Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, and T. S. Eliot came to the fishing town and found inspiration.

But the vital life of Gloucester was being threatened. Ominous signs were seen with the development of engine-powered net-dragging vessels in the first decade of the twentieth century. As early as 1911, Gloucester fishermen warned of the dire consequences of this new technology. Since then, these vessels have become even larger and more efficient, and today the resulting overfishing, along with climate change and pollution, portends the extinction of the very species that fishermen depend on to survive, and of a way of life special not only to Gloucester but to coastal cities all over the world. And yet, according to Kurlansky, it doesn’t have to be this way. Scientists, government regulators, and fishermen are trying to work out complex formulas to keep fishing alive.

Engagingly written and filled with rich history, delicious anecdotes, colorful characters, and local recipes, The Last Fish Tale is Kurlansky’s most urgent story, a heartfelt tribute to what he calls “socio-diversity” and a lament that “each culture, each way of life that vanishes, diminishes the richness of civilization.”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:12 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

From the "New York Times"-bestselling author of "Cod, Salt," and "The Big Oyster" comes the colorful story of a way of life that for hundreds of years has defined much of America's coastlines but is slowly disappearing.

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