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The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the…

The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World (original 1998; edition 1999)

by Larry Zuckerman (Author)

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247872,735 (3.74)11
The Potatotells the story of how a humble vegetable, once regarded as trash food, had as revolutionary an impact on Western history as the railroad or the automobile. Using Ireland, England, France, and the United States as examples, Larry Zuckerman shows how daily life from the 1770s until World War I would have been unrecognizable-perhaps impossible-without the potato, which functioned as fast food, famine insurance, fuel and labor saver, budget stretcher, and bank loan, as well as delicacy. Drawingon personal diaries, contemporaneous newspaper accounts, and other primary sources, this is popular social history at its liveliest and most illuminating.… (more)
Title:The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World
Authors:Larry Zuckerman (Author)
Info:Farrar, Straus and Giroux (1999), Edition: 1, 340 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:nonfiction, history

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The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World by Larry Zuckerman (1998)


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» See also 11 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
How the humble spud rescued the western world. Read. Not great.
1 vote jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
Zuckerman manages to make potatoes (as well as land politics in Europe) an interesting, engaging topic. ( )
  ratastrophe | May 4, 2014 |
I really enjoyed this one. I found so much to think about in here. Just look at this list of themes up there - and this is supposed to be about potatoes! But it was amazing how much the 'humble spud' effected.

The potato was viewed with some suspicion early on. In England, this latest a surprisingly long time. In France and Ireland, people eventually loved it as an easy substitute for growing grain, because it took less labor and would grow in poorer soil, as well as being easier for poor working people to prepare. But in England, it was looked down on and considered only good enough for peasants and livestock. In the US, colonials loved it - any food is good food - and it was grown and eaten everywhere. The book also includes a good but brief chapter about the potato famine in Ireland, its causes and effects, the government response, and its effect on migration.

Much more interesting that you might expect. My main complaint is that the 'western world' of the title was misleading. What about the potato in Germany, Spain, and Italy? What about Russia? These countries were scarcely mentioned, which was unfortunate. Still, 4 stars. ( )
  cmbohn | May 21, 2010 |
This one's about how the potato affected the poor and working classes of Ireland, England, France, and the US, up to the start of World War I. Everything from scientific theories of the day to changes in marriage customs gets talked about. I liked it.

The problem with reading food histories is getting hungry. Like, the chapter on French peasants. They lived on soup and bread. While the book was talking about how horrible the bread was and how weak the soups were, I was plotting a trip to the grocery for a crusty French loaf and the makings of a stew. Mentions of Irish tenant farmers boiling potatoes to serve with butter and salt had my mouth watering. Isn't that terrible? I should have been thinking about the plight of the poor and the rotten conditions they lived in, but all I could focus on was food... ( )
1 vote SwitchKnitter | Jul 10, 2009 |
A fascinating social history of the potato's impact on Great Britain, France, Ireland and the United States. I had no idea this ordinary vegetable ignited so much controversy! This book taught me many things about the way of life and the opinions of people back then, and it had a substantial bibliography for those inclined to read more. ( )
  meggyweg | Mar 6, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Larry Zuckermanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Breuer, CharlotteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Möllemann, NorbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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