The Story of Salt


Book Information

G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers 2006
Social Studies Curriculum

We pick up the salt shaker and mindlessly add some grains to our food in a way our ancestors would have envied. Thousands of years ago salt was a precious and very valuable commodity. The Chinese emperors controlled it and taxed it. In fact salt paid for the Great Wall of China and covered the costs of the Chinese standing army.

The Egyptians used salt for mummification and to preserve food when the Nile was destroying crops and dminishing food supplies. The Romans paid their soldiers in salt. Think of the phrase, a man is worth his salt and you'll get a glimpse of the power that salt once held. As the salt went, so went civilization from the Celts to the French kings.

This is another of Mark Kurlansky's big picture books that trace the importance of a commodity in ancient and even more modern civilizations. Smuggling salt in your underwear? Sound familiar to anyone? Not in this day and age, but once it was the salt that folks were prizing so highly. Fascinating and enlightening, the picture widens to include even the importance of salt in the American colonies and in our dealings with the British before and after the war.

A wonderful book full of connections and big ideas to consider. Why did one civilization choose to tax the salt and another one choose to give it away for free? A great read. This is the child's eye view of the book Kurlansky wrote for adults.

48 pages Ages 9-13 978-0399239984

Recommended by: Barb Langridge,

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