What has been the dish of kings, the subject of myths and the traveller of epic and mysterious journeys? The eel.
Beginning life in the Sargasso Sea, the eel travels across the ocean, lives for twenty or so years, and then is driven by some instinct back across the ocean to spawn and die. And the next generation starts the story again. No one knows why the eels return, or how the orphaned elvers learn their way back. One man discovered, after many adventures, the breeding ground of all eels – and he is the hero of this book.
Eels were being caught and consumed 5000 years before the birth of Christ – Aristotle and Pliny wrote about them; Romans regarded them as a peerless delicacy; Egyptians accorded them semi-sacred status; English kings died of overeating them. There are many strange practices among eel fishers all over the world, and many great fortunes based upon the eel harvest.
The Book of Eels, a combination of social comment, biography and natural history, is also a fascinating and witty account of Tom Fort’s obsession with the eel, his journeying to discover the eel in all its habitats, and the people he meets in his pursuit.
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Science journalist Oliver Morton will love The Book of Eels. In an Amazon.co.uk interview, Morton, who had just written a book about Mapping Mars, said that bits of the world which fascinated him most were the ones which science could describe brilliantly, but could not begin to explain. That would seem to describe eels quite nicely.
Foods go in and out of fashion. The skills of the field and the kitchen develop slowly, refined bit by bit by passing generations--then vanish, in the blink of an eye. Tom Fort's uncategorisable book pays homage to the humble and delicious eel. It is by turns charming, long-winded, and unexpectedly profound. Sunday fishermen will lap up its eel-catching lore, its stirring first-person accounts, and its eccentric historical anecdotes. Armchair naturalists will retire exhausted but happy from Fort's account of the eel's extraordinary life cycle (involving, among other things, an epic circumnavigation of the world). Of course, books of this sort usually end in tears. If your subject is the relationship people have with the natural world, you most often end up having to mourn the affair's recent passing--eradicated by one modern despoliation or another. Fort's book is no exception. Fort feels sure that the eel will survive man. But he wonders whether men will survive in a world where so much knowledge, lore and practice is being sacrificed in the name of industry. Fort believes passionately in craft, and in the kind of knowledge you can gain through the practice of craft. He contrasts this with the way science works, and is both sympathetic and very funny about science's limitations when it comes to answering questions about creatures as elusive and peculiar as his beloved eels. There are, Fort argues, many different kinds of knowledge. The scientific knowledge that informs industry is fine as far as it goes. But it's not enough to do justice to this remarkable creature.--Simon IngsReview:
Praise for The Grass is Greener:
‘Cultural history at its best.’ Country Life
‘This book is absolutely hilarious. Brilliantly written, a minor classic. A gem.’ The Field
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Book Description Book Condition: Good. This item is in good condition. All pages and covers are readable. There are no stains or tears. Dust jacket is present if applicable. May contain small amounts of writing and/or highlighting. Spine and cover may show signs of wear. May not contain supplementary items. We ship within 1 business day. Bookseller Inventory # 34FD1G000BPT
Book Description Hardback. Book Condition: Very Good. The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged. Bookseller Inventory # GOR001306903
Book Description HarperCollins, London, 2002. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. First Edition. Very good hardback copy in very good dustjacket. xiii, 286 pges. Bookseller Inventory # 005586
Book Description HarperCollins. London. 2002 1st edition. 8vo (218 x 144mm). Ppxiv,287. Vignette illustrations. Mint in dust-wrapper. A remarkable mixture of history, natural history, fishing and folklore, social comment and autobiography. (Previous price £16.99). Bookseller Inventory # 8740
Book Description HarperCollins, 2002. First Edition. Bright copy in tight binding; black cloth with gilt titles on spine; pages neat & well kept. Dust jacket not price clipped, with good straight edges. Used - Very Good. VG hardback in VG dust jacket. Bookseller Inventory # BOOKS225717I
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, London, United Kingdom, 2002. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Fine. 1st. pp.xiii, 277. Fish, Man and his relationship to Nature Size: 8vo. Bookseller Inventory # 002792
Book Description Harper Collins, London, 2002. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Vg. Dust Jacket Condition: Vg. First Edition. 8vo. 287pp. Vignettes. Ink initials on f.ep. 8vo. Bookseller Inventory # 014331
Book Description HarperCollins, London, 2002. hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Good. authors name on the title page with "best wishes". minor shelf wear to the edges of the cover. pages are clean, bright and tight, news paper article inside of the cover about fish returning to our rivers. Wrote in 2002. Signed by Author. Bookseller Inventory # 106149
Book Description 2002. (London), Harper Collins, (2002). Cloth, fine in d/w, pp. xiii, 286. ISBN 0 00 711592 X. ". a remarkable book, a combination of social comment, autobiography and history, and a wonderful account of one man's obsession" (d/w blurb). Bookseller Inventory # 93480
Book Description HarperCollins, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very Good. FIRST EDITION with dust jacket - rare and collectable - will send out 1 st class post. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000050691