Fishing: How the Sea Fed Civilization

Yale Univ. Sept. 2017. 368p. illus. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780300215342. $30. HIST
Fishing's role in the development of civilization has not received the kind of merit that history bestows upon hunting and farming. Fagan (anthropology, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; The Great Warming) aims to change that, delving into the shallow-water opportunists of prehistory to the deep-sea trawlers of today. The work begins in Africa, where our ancestors snatched catfish from shallow pools, then continues to describe the rising global sea levels that followed the Ice Age through the classical, medieval, and modern eras. Readers will discover a world history rich in fishing: from Scandinavian trappers to ancient Japanese fishers to Chinese carp fishermen. Herring, cod, the Roman fish sauce garum, sturgeons, and shellfish are all discussed. Historical ecological transformations, such as the end of the Ice Age, as well as contemporary environmental concerns, including overfishing, are addressed, as are important human migrations, such as the expansion of peoples from Asia to America. Fagan's style is academic yet accessible.
VERDICT A much-needed volume for serious students of world history. Highly recommended for readers interested in archaeology, anthropology, ecology, and environmental science.
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