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Imprint: Oneworld Publications

Subject: History, Nature


A Fish, the Earth, and the History of a Common Fate

Mark Kurlansky


If we can save the salmon, we can save the world

Over the centuries, salmon have been a vital resource, a dietary staple and an irresistible catch. But there is so much more to this extraordinary fish.

As international bestseller Mark Kurlansky reveals, salmon persist as a barometer for the health of our planet. Centuries of our greatest assaults on nature can be seen in their harrowing yet awe-inspiring life cycle.

Full of all Kurlansky’s characteristic curiosity and insight, Salmon is a magisterial history of a wondrous creature.

‘An epic, environmental tragedy’ Spectator

‘These creatures have nurtured our imagination as surely as our bodies. This book does them justice!’ Bill McKibben

  • Publication date: October 7, 2021
  • ISBN: 9780861541256
  • RRP: £10.99
  • Pages: 336
  • Publication date: October 1, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781786078520
  • RRP: £18.99
  • Pages: 336
  • Publication date: October 1, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781786078537
  • RRP: £6.99
  • Pages: 320


‘Mark Kurlansky’s book is an epic, environmental tragedy, with the salmon at its centre as the abused hero… one of the great strengths of Kurlanksy’s book is the way he links the fish’s plight to so many major environmental concerns… Kurlanksy is at his best when illuminating the lives of people who have been disregarded in the name of progress.’


‘What Kurlansky did for Cod, he now does for Salmon — a book not just for fishermen, but for everyone who cares about our world. A blistering account of  “civilised” man’s blind obsession with bending Nature and its resources to his will.’

Geoffrey Palmer OBE

‘It is a beautiful book, spangled throughout with stunning color photographs of a lovely fish, of pristine streams and landscapes. It’s a coffee-table book shrunk to shelf-size, but the images are pertinent and illuminating, and there is nothing throwaway about the text that surrounds them or about the recipes for salmon dishes from all over the world and past centuries.’

Wall Street Journal

‘Few fish can be as iconic as the salmon… Kurlansky’s Salmon perfectly illustrates this… Kurlansky leaps into subjects such as hatcheries, salmon’s life-cycle and the impact humans have on this very special fish. It’s a varied book that any angler and naturalist will thoroughly enjoy.’

BBC Wildlife

‘More than an environmental book about overfishing, the text includes a comprehensive natural and cultural history about how the salmon impacts the world… A fascinating mosaic of history and science… The real beauty of the book is in its subtle transformation of a species often thought of in terms of food into one that needs to be considered with care and even championed.’

Foreword Reviews

‘[A] handsomely illustrated work of natural history and environmental advocacy... In championing a critically important part of the natural world, Kurlansky sounds an urgent alarm that commands our attention.’


‘If there was ever a totem species for the planet, it’s the noble salmon – back and forth between ocean and stream, between salt and fresh water, these creatures have nurtured our imagination as surely as our bodies. This book does them justice!’

Bill McKibben

‘[Kurlansky’s] beautifully written book explores the natural history of this remarkable fish – whose ancestors were alive at the same time as the dinosaurs – as well as the role it has played in human history.’


‘Mark Kurlansky takes us on a journey from the 16th century to the present day, encompassing history, politics and biology, and visiting hatcheries and fisheries to investigate the fascinating yet harrowing life cycle of this iconic species. The message is clear: if we can save the salmon, we can save the world.’

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Mark Kurlansky

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