Salt ....who knew?

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Salt ....who knew?

#1  Postby Macdoc » Jul 17, 2017 5:07 am

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truly a book that alters one's view of history and even current world enterprises right down to local cusines.

Endless fascination. I posted it in the science section as this common chemical to us has just an insane history ....one still being written and it underlays so many other chemical and cuisine processes ( ie cheese, fish pickling etc )

Highly highly recommended read ... :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:
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Re: Salt ....who knew?

#2  Postby crank » Jul 17, 2017 9:32 am

Looks like a good read. Salt is extremely important for us critters, I've heard of animals that will travel extremely long distances to make it to a spot so they can eat the dirt, their only source for salt. I used to exercise in a a very hot humid area and I'm also a sweater. The sweat would literally pour off the brim of the cap I usually wore, later, after it dried off, there would be salt caked on the surface of the thing. It always amazed me so much could get sweated out of me in a couple of hours. That might explain why I like it as much as I do. Whenever I crave some kind of snack, it's almost always something salty, it got to where I would just say "I need salt'.
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-George Carlin, who died 2008. Ha, now we have human centipedes running the place
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Re: Salt ....who knew?

#3  Postby Macdoc » Jul 17, 2017 11:04 am

You will enjoy it I'm sure.
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Re: Salt ....who knew?

#4  Postby Weaver » Jul 17, 2017 1:15 pm

I have read it. It has some interesting anecdotes, but presents them in such a way as to make the importance of the salt trade seem much greater than it actually was. I think there's doubt about the historical accuracy of some of the "facts" in the book as well.

I did enjoy one of the recipes for using salt to preserve food - in the Confederacy (rebels in the US Civil War) they supposedly advised the best way to keep meat from spoiling in the summer - eat it early in the spring.
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Re: Salt ....who knew?

#5  Postby Macdoc » Jul 17, 2017 5:37 pm

Want to point some of those out...easy to criticize - harder to refute with evidence.

Certainly his sources from the Appendix are sterling.

His information on the Hanseatic League ....which was the most eye opening for me seems correctly based....I had no idea of the extent of their commercial empire.
The rest of salt monopolies and productions seem easily referenced.

I think it's well put together to cover so much history in a single volume and keep it interesting.
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Re: Salt ....who knew?

#6  Postby proudfootz » Jul 17, 2017 6:17 pm

I like this sort of thing.
"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't." - Mark Twain
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Re: Salt ....who knew?

#7  Postby Weaver » Jul 17, 2017 7:44 pm

Macdoc wrote:Want to point some of those out...easy to criticize - harder to refute with evidence.

Certainly his sources from the Appendix are sterling.

His information on the Hanseatic League ....which was the most eye opening for me seems correctly based....I had no idea of the extent of their commercial empire.
The rest of salt monopolies and productions seem easily referenced.

I think it's well put together to cover so much history in a single volume and keep it interesting.

Yes, he has an extensive bibliography - but that doesn't mean it's accurate.

Here's one example - he goes on and on about Marco Polo's memoirs, and goes into a lot of detail about what Polo included and omitted - and states very affirmatively that Polo never mentioned the use of paper money in his memoirs. But this isn't true - Polo did talk about paper money, and about specific villages that used or didn't use it.

He improperly conflates many sorts of salts; while mostly talking about "salt" as it's commonly understood, i.e. NaCl, he also uses "salt" and "salts" for potassium nitrate and other salts - without being particularly definitive that they are completely different, in not only chemical forumlae, but in manufacture, production, and application - as well as impact through history. Maybe just really crappy, sloppy writing (which describes a lot of this incredibly tiresome and repetitive book) but also not especially honest for something purporting to be totally accurate.

More chemistry errors - he says baking soda is sodium carbonate (it's sodium bicarbonate). He says phosgene and mustard gas are the same thing. Uh, no - aren't now, and never have been. He says light bulbs contain magnesium salts - not since we stopped using flash powders.

He states that apostrophes aren't used in the French language. D'accord, whatever. C'est la vie

And speaking of France, he tries to make it seem like the French salt tax, the Gabelle, led to the French Revolution. Pretty long simmering rage for a tax which first came about in the 1200s.

There are others - it's been almost a decade and a half since I read this, but while I too was impressed at first, the more I thought about it the less impressed I was, particularly in light of historical accuracy.

A long bibliography doesn't mean that it has "sterling" accuracy - just that he can write long lists of things.
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Re: Salt ....who knew?

#8  Postby Weaver » Jul 17, 2017 7:49 pm

Weaver wrote:
Macdoc wrote:Want to point some of those out...easy to criticize - harder to refute with evidence.

Certainly his sources from the Appendix are sterling.

His information on the Hanseatic League ....which was the most eye opening for me seems correctly based....I had no idea of the extent of their commercial empire.
The rest of salt monopolies and productions seem easily referenced.

I think it's well put together to cover so much history in a single volume and keep it interesting.

Yes, he has an extensive bibliography - but that doesn't mean it's accurate.

Here's one example - he goes on and on about Marco Polo's memoirs, and goes into a lot of detail about what Polo included and omitted - and states very affirmatively that Polo never mentioned the use of paper money in his memoirs. But this isn't true - Polo did talk about paper money, and about specific villages that used or didn't use it.

He improperly conflates many sorts of salts; while mostly talking about "salt" as it's commonly understood, i.e. NaCl, he also uses "salt" and "salts" for potassium nitrate and other salts - without being particularly definitive that they are completely different, in not only chemical forumlae, but in manufacture, production, and application - as well as impact through history. Maybe just really crappy, sloppy writing (which describes a lot of this incredibly tiresome and repetitive book) but also not especially honest for something purporting to be totally accurate.

More chemistry errors - he says baking soda is sodium carbonate (it's sodium bicarbonate). He says phosgene and mustard gas are the same thing. Uh, no - aren't now, and never have been. He says light bulbs contain magnesium salts - not since we stopped using flash powders. Natron, used in Egyptian mummification, isn't simply "a salt" - it is a mix of sodium bicarbonate, sodium sulfate, sodium carbonate, and sodium chloride - and sodium bicarbonate ain't a salt, it's a base.

He states that apostrophes aren't used in the French language. D'accord, whatever. C'est la vie

And speaking of France, he tries to make it seem like the French salt tax, the Gabelle, led to the French Revolution. Pretty long simmering rage for a tax which first came about in the 1200s.

There are others - it's been almost a decade and a half since I read this, but while I too was impressed at first, the more I thought about it the less impressed I was, particularly in light of historical accuracy.

A long bibliography doesn't mean that it has "sterling" accuracy - just that he can write long lists of things.
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