The Big Oyster
History on the Half Shell
By Mark Kurlansky
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780345476395, 336pp.)
Publication Date: January 9, 2007
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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“Part treatise, part miscellany, unfailingly entertaining.”
–The New York Times
“A small pearl of a book . . . a great tale of the growth of a modern city as seen through the rise and fall of the lowly oyster.”
–Rocky Mountain News
Award-winning author Mark Kurlansky tells the remarkable story of New York by following the trajectory of one of its most fascinating inhabitants–the oyster.
For centuries New York was famous for this particular shellfish, which until the early 1900s played such a dominant a role in the city’s life that the abundant bivalves were Gotham’s most celebrated export, a staple food for all classes, and a natural filtration system for the city’s congested waterways.
Filled with cultural, historical, and culinary insight–along with historic recipes, maps, drawings, and photos–this dynamic narrative sweeps readers from the seventeenth-century founding of New York to the death of its oyster beds and the rise of America’s environmentalist movement, from the oyster cellars of the rough-and-tumble Five Points slums to Manhattan’s Gilded Age dining chambers. With The Big Oyster, Mark Kurlansky serves up history at its most engrossing, entertaining, and delicious.
“Suffused with [Kurlansky’s] pleasure in exploring the city across ground that hasn’t already been covered with other writers’ footprints.”
–Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Fascinating stuff . . . [Kurlansky] has a keen eye for odd facts and natural detail.”
–The Wall Street Journal
“Kurlansky packs his breezy book with terrific anecdotes.”
“Magnificent . . . a towering accomplishment.”
Mark Kurlansky is the New York Times bestselling and James A. Beard Award—winning author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, Salt: A World History, 1968: The Year That Rocked the World, and The Basque History of the World, as well as Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue (his debut novel), and several other books. He lives in New York City.
Advance praise for The Big Oyster
“In his portrait of the once-famous oyster beds of New York Harbor, Kurlansky beautifully illustrates food’s ability to connect us deeply to our particular place in the world, and shows how our nourishment is so vitally tied to the health of the natural world.”
“Mark Kurlansky has done it again. The Big Oyster is a zesty love song to a bivalve and a city–intelligent, informative, and impossible to put down.”
–Nathaniel Philbrick, National Book Award—winning author of In the Heart of the Sea
Praise for Mark Kurlansky
1968: The Year That Rocked the World
“Memorable, essential, and in its own way wondrous.”
–The Boston Globe
Salt: A World History
“Bright writing and, most gratifyingly, an enveloping narrative.”
–San Francisco Chronicle
Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World
“This eminently readable book is a new tool for scanning world history.”
–The New York Times Book Review