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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 Audiobook, 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 (1,363 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mark Kurlansky Narrator: Tom Stechschulte Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2006 ISBN: 9780739324714
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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.
For centuries New York was famous for this particular shellfish, which until the early 1900s played such a dominant a role in the city’s life that the abundant bivalves were Gotham’s most celebrated export, a staple food for all classes, and a natural filtration system 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 seventeenth-century founding of New York to the death of its 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. With The Big Oyster, Mark Kurlansky serves up history at its most engrossing, entertaining, and delicious.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ruben | 2/15/2014

    " Interesting history of the oyster in America that was entertaining but at times too concerned with US history. Many parts of the book--especially within part 1--read as if the author was writing a history of New York and would merely sprinkle references about oysters that fit the time period he was discussing. That is not true for the entirety of part 1, but there are many instances where Kurlansky delves into US history so much that he neglects the oyster. Part 2, on the other hand, was very precise and focused, really giving you the sense of the oyster's place in America from colonial times to the present. I would give it an additional half-star if able. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sias | 1/31/2014

    " An interesting and entertaining account of the oyster industry. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Steven R. | 1/29/2014

    " I'm addicted to books like this, what can I say. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bridgid | 1/28/2014

    " Once again Kurlansky makes the trivial fascinating. I enjoyed his method of tracing social, natural and cultural history through a single object. Now I want to feast on oysters (but none from New York City!) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Billy | 1/22/2014

    " A nice little history of New York City and its mighty estuary with the emphasis on its local oysters. These bivalves were a staple for rich and poor for over 300 hundred years until pollution fouled our waters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Davide | 1/13/2014

    " I Love NY! And I love NY history. I live near the river on the East Side of Manhattan. And since reading this book, one of my favorite things to do while sitting at the park along the river is to look out at Hell's Gate and think of the bounty that used to lurk below the now-not-so-choppy waters. I've heard they've begun to reintroduce oysters to the waters surrounding NYC. What a hoot it would be to someday be able to buy fresh local oysters from a cart instead of stale (barely) hot pretzels and water dogs. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leandra Luecke | 1/9/2014

    " So very interesting! A must-read for New Yorkers or New York-o-philes. Or American history buffs. Or people who really really like oysters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 KarenG | 1/5/2014

    " I thought this was an incredibly compelling book--no more so than Kurlansky's others, but somehow it read more like a novel. I almost couldn't put it down. It could also have been my fascination with NYC--and my love of oysters. I am boring everyone I meet with all the crazy anecdotes I've learned! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alex | 1/4/2014

    " I've read most of Kurlansky's books, and I enjoyed the majority of them. This one was as good as Cod but not as good as Salt. It's more of a history of New York City as told from the point of view of the oyster trade and consumers. The book was engaging and enjoyable, although the state of the New York harbor's waters at the end was depressing. Still, good book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 12/31/2013

    " Any book by Kurlansky is chock full of information and historical tidits. Learn about NYC and its history from a unique perspective! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Suzie | 12/20/2013

    " one of the best books about early manhattan history, told through the story of the oyster. learn factoids about nyc to impress your friends! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa Cheung | 12/5/2013

    " my first read by him. a bit tedious at times, but a great perspective on NYC and those tasty treats. i love the history of oyster stands, restaurants, and recipes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael Clark | 10/28/2013

    " What a story and the history of NYC in a shell - not nut oyster! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jonathan | 10/26/2013

    " Scarcely worth the time unless you want two dozen centuries old recipes for oysters. Quite a disappointment. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joseph | 5/19/2013

    " This book is a whimsical history of New York City and its waterways; as seen through its oyster fishery. Full review when I finish. But if you like NYC or Oysters it will amuse you. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessica Starr | 4/10/2013

    " A study of New York history, viewed through the eyes(?) of the oyster. An interesting, if occasionally repetitive read -- how many versions of oyster stew recipes does a reader really need in order to understand that New Yorkers ate a lot of a oyster? I say one or two; Mark Kurlansky disagrees. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Erin Burke | 2/9/2013

    " A book about how the oyster shaped New York....and how the growth of New York affected the oyster populations. Food history fans will enjoy it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pancha | 12/3/2012

    " I really like Kurlansky's writing, and this tale of the New York oyster blends the local and global history effecting the oyster, biology, and a few recipes into a very engaging read about the popular bivalve. The book design is fun too. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mia | 6/24/2012

    " Very interesting history of New York as seen through the oyster industry. Kurlansky is witty and knowledgable, and the book is eminently readable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 colleen | 5/30/2012

    " Delectable and intriguing story of the NY oyster and it's influence on the growth of the grand city of New York. If you're curious to learn all about the slimy delicasy or are enthralled by the growth of a city...I absolutely recommend. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lisa Bender | 10/26/2011

    " What a great read! This tells the story of New York City from the age of industrialism to current day--all through our friend, the bi-valve, the oyster! Love this because it's entertaining and you actually learn something. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Glen | 7/13/2011

    " This was a good history of daily life in New York in the time when it was industrializing. Full of fun-facts. Maybe a bit long and slow, but fun. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Frank | 5/16/2011

    " Shucking knife and stainless-steel, chain-mail glove in the mail. Drago's style roasted oysters in the back yard, mignonette and cocktail sauce with fresh grated horseradish on crushed ice? Come on down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Loftus3b | 4/25/2011

    " Great for NY and for Oyster lovers "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 4/25/2011

    " very interesting... did skim some of it as was not into all the details... however, overlaps w/ Vermeer's Hat and the NY history by Shorto so all good! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elizabeth | 4/15/2011

    " Great book! Painless history. A fascinating story about oysters and new york city "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Taylor | 1/31/2011

    " A really neat history book about New York for people who are not from there and didn't grow up on the East coast. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 12/22/2010

    " What a story and the history of NYC in a shell - not nut oyster! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Antiabecedarian | 9/24/2010

    " the big soy of the sea, oysters. now someone needs to write the comprehensive history of New Orleans through oysters. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cwalker | 9/3/2010

    " New York's waterways produced literally millions of oysters until pollution and rubbish in the harbour killed them off, along with a thriving industry based on a cheap nutritious local food. A familiar story which we seem condemned to repeat over and over again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 McC | 8/25/2010

    " Interesting view on the history of New York. It's a great quick read with fascinating tid bits. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrew | 7/14/2010

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

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda | 7/13/2010

    " Any book by Kurlansky is chock full of information and historical tidits. Learn about NYC and its history from a unique perspective! "

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About the Author
Author Mark Kurlansky

Marl Kurlansky is a highly-acclaimed American journalist and writer of general interest nonfiction, including The Big Oyster. He is especially known for titles on eclectic topics. His 1997 book Cod was an international bestseller and was translated into more than fifteen languages.

About the Narrator

Tom Stechschulte has narrated well over a hundred audiobooks and has won fifteen AudioFile Earphones Awards. He won the prestigious Audie Award in 2009 and has been a finalist for the Audie in 2005 and 2011. As an actor, he has been seen in eleven Broadway shows as well as numerous television and film shows, including the remake of The Manchurian Candidate.