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Download The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell, by Mark Kurlansky Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,365 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mark Kurlansky Narrator: John H. Mayer Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Before New York City was the Big Apple, it could have been called the Big Oyster. Now award-winning author Mark Kurlansky tells the remarkable story of New York by following the trajectory of one of its most fascinating inhabitants—the oyster, whose influence on the great metropolis remains unparalleled.

For centuries New York was famous for its oysters, which until the early 1900s played such a dominant role in the city s economy, gastronomy, and ecology that the abundant bivalves were Gotham’s most celebrated export, a staple food for the wealthy, the poor, and tourists alike, and the primary natural defense against pollution for the city s congested waterways.

Filled with cultural, historical, and culinary insight along with historic recipes, maps, drawings, and photos, this dynamic narrative sweeps readers from the island hunting ground of the Lenape Indians to the death of the oyster beds and the rise of America s environmentalist movement, from the oyster cellars of the rough-and-tumble Five Points slums to Manhattan’s Gilded Age dining chambers. 

Kurlansky brings characters vividly to life while recounting dramatic incidents that changed the course of New York history. Here are the stories behind Peter Stuyvesant’s peg leg and Robert Fulton’s Folly; the oyster merchant and pioneering African American leader Thomas Downing; the birth of the business lunch at Delmonico’s; early feminist Fanny Fern, one of the highest-paid newspaper writers in the city; even Diamond Jim Brady, who we discover was not the gourmand of popular legend. 

With The Big Oyster, Mark Kurlansky serves up history at its most engrossing, entertaining, and delicious.

Download and start listening now!


Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Amy | 2/19/2014

    " If you love Manhattan as much as I do, or Long Island, this is a great piece of non-fiction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Andrew | 2/10/2014

    " It's a great history of New York City and an even better natural history of the oyster. Ignore the recipes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Carmen | 2/4/2014

    " Read this one while researching my oyster article for NYPL and it was interesting. Lots of good NYC history in there along with the fascinating world of food history and bivalve science. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Brian | 2/3/2014

    " Very enjoyable history of New York City via its oyster consumption. "

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