Why Did Mark Kurlansky Write Salt a World History?

Salt has been an essential part of human life for centuries. It has been used to preserve food, add flavor, and even as currency.

Mark Kurlansky recognized the importance of salt in our history and decided to write a book about it. In this article, we will explore why he wrote Salt: A World History.

The Inspiration Behind Salt: A World History

Mark Kurlansky is a journalist and historian who has written several books on different topics. His fascination with salt began when he was writing a book about codfish, another essential commodity in our history. While researching the topic, he discovered that salt played a significant role in the codfish industry.

Kurlansky’s curiosity led him to explore the history of salt further. He found that salt had been used by many civilizations throughout history, including the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. He also discovered that wars had been fought over salt mines and trade routes.

Why Salt is Worth Writing About

Salt may seem like a simple topic, but it has played a vital role in human society. Its significance goes beyond just adding flavor to food; it has helped preserve food and people’s health throughout history.

Moreover, salt has also influenced cultural practices such as religion and language. For example, the word “salary” comes from the Latin word for salt because Roman soldiers were sometimes paid in salt.

The Importance of Understanding Our History

Mark Kurlansky believes that understanding our history is crucial for our future. By studying how past civilizations have used resources like salt, we can learn valuable lessons about sustainability and resource management.

Kurlansky also believes that writing books like Salt: A World History can help us appreciate how interconnected our world is. We often take for granted everyday items such as salt without realizing their significance in our history.


In conclusion, Mark Kurlansky wrote Salt: A World History to shed light on the importance of salt in human history. By exploring its significance, he hoped to help readers appreciate how essential resources shape our world and how studying our past can help us make better decisions for our future. So, if you’re looking for a fascinating read that will teach you about a commodity that has shaped human society, Salt: A World History is an excellent place to start.