I first heard of Salt when the author objected to President Bush bringing it on vacation with him.
Well, he didn't exactly object, but here's what he did say:
"What does it mean that George W Bush, a man who has demonstrated little ability for reflection, who is known to read no newspapers and whose headlong charge into disaster after cataclysm has shown a complete ignorance of history, who wants to throw out centuries of scientific learning and replace it with mythical mumbo-jumbo that he mistakenly calls religion, who preaches Christianity but seems to have never read the teachings of the great anti-war activist, Jesus Christ, is now spending his vacation reading my book, Salt: A World History?
(...)maybe he should put my book down, walk outside and talk to the grieving mothers of the American youth he wasted, who are camped in front of the ranch."
Well, damn, that sounds like a man worth reading.
I can see why Bush found Salt attractive. It's not very demanding. Kurlansky surveys the history of human use of salt, with a dash of geological information as well. He dances nimbly between different cultures and time period, stringing together lovely little anecdotes about places and salt extraction techniques like salt crystals on a necklace of chapters. Or something. There's very little required of the reader except that he or she sit back and enjoy the ride. It's quite enjoyable, actually. This would be a good read for young adults. It's massive, but doesn't require a long attention span.
Kurlansky's Cod was recommended to me a while ago, but I don't feel the need to seek it out now that I've read its older brother.