The Big Oyster by Admin Online

The Big Oyster
Title : The Big Oyster
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780345476395
Language : English
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 307

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 foAward-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 read


The Big Oyster Reviews

  • Jason Koivu

    The title of The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell is a nod to The Big Apple and could very well be considered a solid stand-alone history of New York itself. Mark Kurlansky's book titles do not get the reader's blood pumping: SaltNonviolenceCodYou'd half expect to fall asleep before finishing the intro. But keep pushing on and you'll find a highly enjoyable read filled with interesting facts. Seriously, Kurlansky can make oysters and cod interesting. That's impressive!The Big Oyster takes u [...]

  • David E Gurak

    History of Oysters in NYCGrist detail around how prominent oysters have been in the history of New York City. Lots of interesting stories and facts that often slip through the cracks in traditional story telling. Highly recommend!

  • jersey9000

    By the man who wrote Salt and Cod, both awesome books that use the aforementioned products to trace out the development of the world itself, comes another book along the same wonderful lines, but this one with a narrower focus: the oyster beds of New York City. I found this to be a fascinating read, and it gave me lots of insight into New York that I didn't even know I was lacking. I was born and Raised in New Jersey, and I was astounded by how little I knew about the history and evolution of NY [...]

  • Susan

    Better premise than execution. An overview of New York history as seen through the oyster (or, better, the history of the oyster as seen through the lens of one city). Its great moments come from some fun historical oddities--e.g the discovery of a new oyster bed is such major news that it makes the front page of the NYT. It sent me running to the Oyster Bar for a feed but otherwise didn't live up to my expectations.

  • Tobi

    I really enjoyed this book. It is about the history of New York City as much as it is the history of the oyster.

  • Jill

    I must say I had rather high expectations for this book. I rather like one of Kurlansky's earlier books - Cod - and how wrong could you go with a follow up about "the remarkable story of New York by following one its most fascinating inhabitants - the oyster"? Alas, to my chagrin, the blurb for the book was a tad misleading. The Big Oyster starts out promisingly enough with its description of New York as a veritable Eden of oysters. According to the estimates of some biologists, NY Harbour "cont [...]

  • Liesl Gibson

    I started this book completely fascinated, and really did learn a great deal about oysters and the history of New York. Lots of great trivia and fascinating bits that I'm glad to know and that help other bits fall into place in my mind. But about halfway through, the book just starts to discintegrate. This should either have been a much shorter and really great New Yorker article or it needed a good editor to give it some strong organization. It's all over the place and feels a bit like the auth [...]

  • Tara

    I'm a big fan of Kurlansky's work, and this book did not disappoint. Being a Native New Yorker, the destruction of the New York estuaries is a sad story, but hopefully one that is not permanent. I will warn potential readers that consuming oysters may never be the same experience for you again after reading this book.

  • Heather Page

    Love love love this book. Interesting information about oysters in general and awesome history of NYC in relation to oysters. I work downtown Manhattan, so the history is this book was great for me. Highly recommend this book!!!

  • Clark Hays

    Commerce, consumption and the end of an eraAwhile back, I read The Oyster: The Life and Lore of the Celebrated Bivalve to learn how oysters reproduce. Apparently, I developed a little crush on the bivalves -- not in the gastronomical sense; I’ve never eaten one -- because when I saw The Big Oyster by Mark Kurlanksy in an airport bookstore, I snatched it up. It’s an entirely fascinating account of the evolution of New York from under-populated backwater wilderness to the bustling world capita [...]

  • Joyce

    Much of the charm of this sort of monograph lies in judicious wandering off the main topic and back and in that regard I have to admit I found Kurlansky rather heavy-handed. He's grimly focused on a single storyline: New York City was built on top of shit-tons of oysters, but a classic tragedy of the commons has left the Big Oyster with nary a namesake to call its own. For light relief, he reprints numerous old oyster recipes -- and you know, there aren't THAT many fundamentally different ways t [...]

  • Lisa

    3.5Mark Kurlansky likes to take a subject (like salt, cod, or even oysters) and after thoroughly researching, divulge all of the details in a historical background.Kurlansky instructs the reader in all things relating to oysters in New York. He does touch on oysters grown in other locations, like the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay where I grew up seeing crews of small wooden work boats using large tongs to dredge up oysters.I would have liked to have heard a little more about modern day oyste [...]

  • Hester

    Typical Kurlansky, in that he uses a very small topic to explore very big themes. I did not know that oysters used to be the food of the poor, that New York used to be a major oyster producer, and that the typical New York eatery was an oyster saloon. New York harbor used to be filled with oysters, until they were killed off by pollution and overharvesting. The pollution, however, is from about a hundred years ago. As the Hudson becomes cleaner, the oysters are very slowly coming back. If they e [...]

  • Megan

    I just gave up on finishing this book. And I hate not finishing a book. I so wanted to keep reading. But I found myself looking around the subway for something more interesting to entertain me every time I picked it up. This is definitely not a page turner, like some of the other reviews suggest. Maybe if you're a history buff, but otherwise, no. It's interesting and there are tons of little tidbits about New York City and how this metropolis came to be what it is today (both due and not due to [...]

  • Samira

    An inherent problem with being a historian reading popular history is that there is a bunch of exposition in most popular histories that I already know, and so I often find that popular American history can drag a bit. While that was sometimes true of The Big Oyster, it was very easy to skim those sections and Kulansky's writing style and use of language are so entertaining that I did not really mind. I had no idea there was so much to say about a food that has always struck me as salty snot on [...]

  • Seán

    Not as encyclopedic as advertised, and definitely the literate foodie/gourmand has more to profit by than the historian, but an enjoyable read nevertheless that makes one pang for lost oyster cellars, the Washington Market, and all-night ferries. Kurlansky cites him a few times, but I suggest anyone really interested in knowing about the Black Staten Island oystering community, the oystering legacy of the South Shore of Strong Island, and the withering of New York Harbor fisheries of every strip [...]

  • Jim

    Yeah right. How is a book on the history of oysters going to be interesting? But it's not only interesting -- it's fascinating and wonderful.Kurlansky is a great food writer (Salt and Cod are among his titles) but he has a brilliant sense of culture and NYC history as well. Oysters were a primary economy to New York; particularly in Five Points. Before the NY waters became so polluted (and remember that oysters are bottom-feeders) people came from all over the world -- notably Cas. Dickens -- ju [...]

  • Shawna

    Awesome book. It is more than just about oysters! Lots of tidbits on food and general history of NYC and NJ. Definitely will be in my top 10 of 2014. Chapter headings and acknowledgement are also super word-nerdy funny. He thanks caffeine! Haha!

  • Clayton

    A laser focused history of the New York City oyster. Once considered the greatest tasting oyster in the world, now gone thanks to pollution. Kurlansky always manages to focus his story telling whether it's the history of salt, cod, or the oyster.

  • Lizzy

    fascinating ecological and social history of the oyster as compared to the social history and growth of NYC. once again my main man Mark is brilliant. makes you think and look closely at how a species existence and relationship to humans can evolve alongside human social history

  • Salvatore Leone

    My third book I think by this author. I really like his topics and how he writes and I'm looking forward to more of his books.

  • Anna

    My dad loves oysters so I had to read it.Amazing history. Who knew oysters were once so abundant and cheap!Found out recently Ellis Island was first called "Oyster Island".

  • Dawn Rogers Kroll

    This book was fantastic!!! Informative! I now know everything I ever wanted to know about the oyster and I don't even like to eat them! So very interesting from a historical perspective.

  • Spider

    I finally swallowed the last of The Big Oyster. The enjoyment of eating bivalves ain't what it used to be But the book was interesting.

  • C

    I read this book because oysters are high in glycine betaine and zinc, which are needed to support the BHMT enzymatic pathway involved in transforming homocysteine to methionine, and so important to methylation of DNA. Hypomethylation appears to be involved in autism/ADHD, cancer, and probably a slew of other things that I just haven't looked into. DNA methylation--or the lack thereof--affects a lot in the body. Anyway, the most interesting topic to me was the autism/ADHD angle. I suspect that p [...]

  • Domenico

    This was as much a history of New York City as it was a book about oysters. In fact, if you're hoping for a wide-ranging book about oysters throughout the world and throughout history, you might be disappointed. It begins with the discovery of Manhattan by Europeans and ends with the 20th century destruction of the oyster beds around NYC. They may say the world is your oyster, but for New Yorkers, the city is the world, I guess.That said, the author occasionally strikes out to mention oysters in [...]

  • Silas

    This book was smaller in scope than previous books by this author that I have read. The writing style is very similar, though, and highlights an almost absurd idea from the past, that New York City was THE place to harvest oysters. The book follows the story from before the arrival of Europeans to modern day, highlighting the way that the increase in population density took one of the world's most vital estuaries and ruined it with a tremendous amount of waste. Along the way, we learn about the [...]

  • David Reber

    I always thought not eating oysters in months without an "r" was a Southern thing. Turns out, it started in the north, New York, in what would become the United States. It was actually a law of the land in 1719. May through August is the breeding season for oysters but they are still edible and delicious. Caesar actually developed our current calendar around the oyster breeding season placing September on the first day it was considered safe to eat them. He placed leap day in February to give an [...]

  • Ian

    A unique history, primarily of New York City, that uses the oyster as its focal point. (The book does delve briefly into how the oyster impacted other European cities of note, as well)The oyster in NYC is a history that has become forgotten with the death of the infamous oyster beds, but this is a great tale of how oysters were crucial to the development of a colony into a city of Gilded Age excess. My one quibble was the somewhat shallow depiction of the colonial politics and interactions with [...]

  • Edward Szeman

    Does your ability to converse with others rely heavily on your ability to recite interesting facts? Then "shaboy" Mark Kurlansky has your back. This Hemingway-looking topical historian whips the mundane into the majestic like a chef whips nasty old egg yolks and dairy into delicious flan. In The Big Oyster, we take a look at New York City through the eyes of the (not so) "solitary oyster". This is a book fit for the haughtiest gourmand, the sincerest environmentalist, the most earnest historian, [...]