Although as an angler I may spend a hundred days a year on the water, I kill very few fish. I don’t much like eating them, and have never done so since those stinking prep school kippers of yesteryear. But, like many other sportsmen, I love fish for their other qualities – their vitality, elegance, and often glorious habitats – and it seems to me that the world’s wild places are seriously diminished when piscine populations decline.
American journalist and novelist Paul Greenberg is also a lifelong angler, and he kicks off his highly readable new book with a boyhood memory of exploring the watery abundance of his native Connecticut. On his travels since, he has noticed that four main types of fish dominate the markets – salmon, bass, cod and tuna – and he traces the history of each of these to suggest how, in the face of threatened natural resources, we can find ‘an equitable and long-lasting peace between man and fish’.
Greenberg is no eco-fanatic, and he writes with intelligent panache. Four Fish, while not quite so wide-ranging as Charles Clover’s pacy The End of the Line, is similarly driven by the author’s personality, and zooms in on many places that represent ‘the vanishing tail of wildness’. Our author