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To anyone who knows and understands the United States, the fact that there was a Federal Writers’ Project at all seems nothing short of miraculous. This is America, the land with no Ministry of Culture, where politicians alone are portrayed on the money. Almost unique among Western republics, the likeness of not one writer, philosopher, painter, or composer has ever graced the engraving of a U.S. bill or coin. The separation of church and state may be the great articulated legal principle, but another sacrosanct concept is the separation of state and culture. And yet there was an age when the U.S. government permanently employed painters, sculptors, playwrights, musicians, actors, and writers to produce art.
    -INTRODUCTION: Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky
Mr. Kurlansky, being a dyed-in-the-wool, if not down-right woolly-headed, liberal, is so enraptured by the above concept that he's put together a collection of essays from the FWP's abandoned attempt to follow up its successful series of guidebooks on America with a similar series called, America Eats. Unfortunately, the quality of the writing here is at best uneven, almost never more than pedestrian, and not infrequently unreadable. While it's interesting enough to discover what folks used to eat and how they prepared it, one quickly resorts to just skimming to find the recipes. It's no coincidence that the essay reviewers mention most often is by Eudora Welty, who actually became a famous writer, and is heavy on recipes, light on text.

Though that surely was not Mr. Kurlansky's intention, the book is an effective argument against New Deal boondoggles.


Grade: (C)



See also:

Mark Kurlansky Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Mark Kurlansky
    -NY State Writers Institute: Mark Kurlansky
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Mark Kurlansky (Penguin Group)
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Mark Kurlansky (Random House)
    -ALUMNI PAGE: Mark Kurlansky '70 (Butler University)
    -EXCERPT: CHAPTER ONE: Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky
    -ESSAY: Hope you like my book, Mr Bush (Mark Kurlansky, 8/23/05,
    -ESSAY: The Food Chains That Link Us All (MARK KURLANSKY, TIME)
    -ESSAY: Essential Oil: Everyone knows that olive oil is good for you. But what you might not know is that to take advantage of the oil's healthfulness, you have to choose and store it well. Here's how. (Mark Kurlansky, November 2008 , Bon Appetit)
    -ESSAY: Give non-violence a chance: Achieving your aims without warfare is a dangerous idea that terrifies the established order. (Mark Kurlansky, April 2007, Ode)
    -ESSAY: Turn the other cheek, or pop him on the nose?: Even if we are violent by nature, following 'the law of love' can also win the day. (Mark Kurlansky, 4/20/08, LA Times)
    -ESSAY: The dawn of total war (Mark Kurlansky, 4/26/07, LA Times)
    -ESSAY: Fathers don't always know best (Mark Kurlansky, 7/04/06, LA Times)
    -ESSAY: Pearls of wisdom about oysters (Mark Kurlansky, 3/13/06, LA Times)
    -ESSAY: Whispers That Destroy Nations (Mark Kurlansky, 2/22/05, LA Times)
    -ESSAY: Universal truths from a small band of Basques (Mark Kurlansky, 4/15/05, LA Times)
    -ESSAY: A Small, Unique Act of Patriotism, With Cherry or Custard Filling (Mark Kurlansky, 9/22/04, LA Times)
    -ESSAY: For Howard Dean to Win, He'll Have to Beat Nixon (Mark Kurlansky, 12/29/03, LA Times)
    -ESSAY: Thunder of '68 Rumbles Onward (Mark Kurlansky, 8/18/03, LA Times)
    -ESSAY: Spain Crucifies Basques Under a 'Terrorist' Placard (Mark Kurlansky, 3/14/03, LA Times)
    -REVIEW: of Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization by Nicholson Baker (Mark Kurlansky, LA Times)
    -PROFILE: Fish in water,/a>: Mark Kurlansky writes about what he knows: coastal communities and life on the sea, writes (John Freeman, February 07, 2009, The Australian)
-PROFILE: Eating in America (Devra First, April 29, 2009, Bostion Globe)
    -PROFILE: A fishing story: Author examines Gloucester's fate (David Mehegan, July 1, 2008 , Boston Globe)
    -PROFILE: AT LUNCH WITH: Mark Kurlansky; A New York Story On the Half Shell (FLORENCE FABRICANT, February 22, 2006, NY Times)
    -INTERVIEW: Lost Customs and Recipes From a Time When All Eating Was Local: Interview with Mark Kurlansky, editor of The Food of a Younger Land (Krista Walton, 5/28/09, AARP Bulletin Today)
    -INTERVIEW: Conversation: Author Mark Kurlansky on 'America Eats' (Peter Smith, PBS: The Newshour)
    -INTERVIEW: : Mark Kurlansky (Edward Champion, June 4, 2009, The Bat Segundo Show)
    -INTERVIEW: Powell's Q&A : Mark Kurlansky (Powell'
    -AUDIO ESSAY: 'America Eats': A Hidden Archive from the 1930s (The Kitchen Sisters, , November 19, 2004 , Morning Edition)
    -INTERVIEW: Mark Kurlansky: A pen against the sword: He is the author of internationally bestselling micro-histories of cod and salt. Mark Kurlansky tells John Freeman why he has turned his gaze to war - and peace (John Freeman, 24 November 2006, The Independent)
    -INTERVIEW: Considering the Food of a Young United States with Mark Kurlansky (KUOW, 05/18/2009)
    -INTERVIEW: Mark Kurlansky on What America Eats (John Hockenberry, Farai Chideya, Melissa Locker Benavidez, 5/13/09, Takeaway)
    -INTERVIEW: Mark Kurlansky (Graham Reid, 4/09/05, New Zealand Herald)
    -INTERVIEW: with Mark Kurlansky (Diane Rehm Show, 9/12/06)
    -ARCHIVES: Mark Kurlansky, LA Times)
-ARCHIVES: Mark Kurlansky (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW: of The Food of a Younger Land, edited by Mark Kurlansky (Bridget Huber, CS Monitor)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Laura Shapiro, Slate)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Jack Thomas, Boston Globe)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (the Economist)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Wyatt Williams, Creative Loafing)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Tim Carman, Washington City Paper)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Seattlest)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Greg Morago, Houston Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Dindy Yokel, Atlanta Examiner)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (eatWisconsin)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Sarah L. Courteau, bookForum)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Jane & Michael Stern, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Ban Mathis-lilley, New York)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Linda White, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Zach Handlen, AV Club)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Carey Polis,
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Maureen Corrigan, NPR)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Mark Brown, Tulsa world)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Cliff Kuang, Good)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Bonnie Benwick, Washington Post: All we Can Eat)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Metro)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Joel Stein, TIME)
    -REVIEW: of Food of a Younger Land (Carla Spartos, NY Post)
    -REVIEW: of The Big Oyster by Mark Kurlansky (elizabeth Royte, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Big Oyster (William Grimes, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Big Oyster (Kathryn Hughes, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Big Oyster (ted Anthony, AP)
    -REVIEW: of The Big Oyster (Peter Lewis, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of The Big Oyster (Bill Duryea, St. Petersburg Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Big Oyster (Lauren Mechling, Globe & Mail)
    -REVIEW: of Big Oyster (Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: for The Big Oyster (Reviews of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Salt by Mark Kurlansky (Elise, ex Libris)
    -REVIEW: of Salt (Chris Lavers, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Salt (Robert MacFarlane, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of Salt (Dr. Pat, BlogCritics)
    -REVIEW: of Salt ( Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Salt (G. David wallace, Business Week)
    -REVIEW: of The Last Fish Tale by Mark Kurlansky (Tim Ecott, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Last Fish Tale (Alex Renton, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of The Last Fish (Christopher Hirst, The Independent)
    -REVIEW: of the Last Fish (Ryan Michael Williams, Pop Matters)
    -REVIEW: of Last Fish Tale (Charles Clover, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Last Fish Tale (Robert Collins, Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of Last Fish Tale (Gary Susman, Entertainment Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Last Fish Tale (Emily Biuso, The Nation)
    -REVIEW: of the Basque History of the World by Mark Kurlansky (Robert Wernick, Smithsonian)
    -REVIEW: of Basque History (Sara J. Brenneis , Flak)
    -REVIEW: of Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky (Molly Benjamin, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Cod (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of 1968: The Year that Rocked the World by Mark Kurlansky (Peter Preston, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of 1968 (Sean O'Hagan, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of 1968 (Bob Simmons, Seattle Times)
    -REVIEW: of 1968 (John Marshall, Seattle P-I)
    -REVIEW: of 1968 (Jesse Kornbluth, Bookreporter)
    -REVIEW: of 1968 (Walter Truett Anderson, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of 1968 (The Economist)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: for 1968 (Reviews of Books)
    -REVIEW: of 1968 (Stewart Home, nth position)
    -REVIEW: of 1968 (David Caute, The Independent)
    -REVIEW: of 1968 (Richard B. Speed, HNN)
    -REVIEW: of 1968 (Robin Blackburn, The Nation)
    -REVIEW: of Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Mark Kurlansky (Ian Pindar, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Nonviolence (Robert Young, Peace)
    -REVIEW: of A CONTINENT OF ISLANDS Searching for the Caribbean Destiny. By Mark Kurlansky (Howard W. French, NY Times)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVES: for Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue by Mark Kurlansky (Reviews of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue (Stacey M. Perlman, Boston Globe)
    -REVIEW: of Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue (Richard Wallace Seattle Times)
    -REVIEW: of Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue (David Robson, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue (Olivia Boler, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue (sam Leith, Daily Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue (todd McEwen, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Boogaloo on 2nd Avenue (rebecca K. Stropoli, Book Page)

Book-related and General Links:

    -ESSAY: Food Bloggers of 1940 (JONATHAN MILES, May 29, 2009, NY Times)
    -ESSAY: Factory food: Why the cheap, mass-produced food we eat is killing our environment, our economy — and us (MIKE MILIARD, June 25, 2009, The Phoenix)
    -ESSAY: Salt Talk: Making tasty use of nature’s prime preservative (Peter Barrett and photographs by Jennifer May, December 29, 2008, Chronogram)