• by Mark Kurlansky
  • Narrated by Jon Van Ness
  • 5 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Break out the TV dinners! From the author who gave us Cod, Salt, and other informative bestsellers, the first biography of Clarence Birdseye, the eccentric genius inventor whose fast-freezing process revolutionized the food industry and American agriculture.


What the Critics Say

"Kurlansky brings Birdseye to life.... Covering the science behind Birdseye's... inventions along with intimate details of his family life, [he] skillfully weaves a fluid narrative of facts on products, packaging, and marketing into this rags-to-riches portrait of the man whose ingenuity brought revolutionary changes to 20th-century life." (Publishers Weekly, starred)
"Kurlansky tells the exciting tale of Birdseye’s adventures, failures and successes (he became a multi-millionaire) and his family, and he also offers engaging snippets about Velveeta, dehydration and Grape-Nuts. The author notes that Birdseye knew that curiosity is 'one essential ingredient' in a fulfilling life; it is a quality that grateful readers also discover in each of Kurlansky’s books." (Kirkus Reviews, starred)
"Kurlansky’s narrative gifts shine through every chapter." (Booklist)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Birdseye - one step too far for Kurlansky

I love Kurlansky's books.

I read Cod when it first came out and I loved that some guy had taken something like a fish and written a clever and informative book about such a seemingly prosaic commodity.

I then listened to Salt via Audible. I enjoyed it, and could see how Kurlansky's interest in salt would probably have been piqued by what he found out while writing Cod.

So I bought Birdseye. I can see how Krulansky's interest would have been piqued in Birdseye whilst writing either book, but, as interesting as Birdseye's story is, it is just one step too far removed from the main theme somehow.

I enjoyed it, it finished it (there are others that I have not, so this says something) but I wouldn't really recommend it unless one didn't really have anything else to read / listen to. In that case, it is a reasonably interesting way to fill some time.

And yes, as a previous reviewer has mentioned, the narrator is not all that one might hope for.
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- David

I just couldn't get past the narrator

What would have made Birdseye better?

Anyone who has listened to Cod, or Salt, knows what a good Kurlansky narrator sounds like. I don't want to sound mean, but I found myself flipping it off, because of the narration. Pauses and breaks in mid sentence, gasps for air, flat toned vocals, deadpan. It felt like they grabbed a guy off the street with dyslexia and asked him to narrate a book. I made it 1/4 way and deleted it out of frustration.I bet the book is good, but the audio one stinks!

Would you be willing to try another book from Mark Kurlansky? Why or why not?

I highly recommend Salt and Cod, more entertaining books by Kurlansky.

Would you be willing to try another one of Jon Van Ness’s performances?

Not for all the tea in china. He has narrated only one book in his life, and that's one too many.

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- K. Lawrence

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-08-2012
  • Publisher: Random House Audio