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Good Bread Is Back: A Contemporary History of French Bread, the Way It Is Made, and the People Who Make It Hardcover – 20 Dec 2006

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Product Description


""Good Bread Is Back" will become the canonical book on 20th century French baking, not only in English but in French too."--"The Fresh Loaf"

"[F]or anyone with a broad interest in bread, the book is an excellent and comprehensive look at the product and how it has shaped, and been shaped by, French society."--"Bakers Journal"

"[Kaplan is] not just the leading authority on French bread but the conscience of French baking--a conscience that does not hesitate to tug. . . . "Good Bread is Back" [is] a punchy, compendious account of how French baking returned to its artisanal roots and sparked a revival in quality crusts."--Michael Steinberger, "Financial Times"

"[T]his is very much a bread nerd's book. . . . It is a fascinating story, and Kaplan is the person to tell it."--David Auerbach, "The Independent Weekly"

"A good baguette is as integral a part of French cultural heritage as Paris and Lacan, and this beautiful book forms a fitting tribute, researched, written and illustrated with finesse."--"French Book News"

"Professor Kaplan's new book is a tasty meditation on the many pleasures of good bread, wrapped in an object lesson on the evolution of artisanal production. Many readers who do not share the author's passion for the technical aspects of breadmaking will nonetheless be impressed by it. And anyone who has ever stood in a French bakery savoring the scent and admiring the array of delectable brown loaves will be heartened by his optimistic conclusion that good bread will always drive out bad. It is, as Kaplan might say, a delicious book with a beautifully gilded crust and a pearly, chewy crumb."--Steve Zdatny, H-France, "H-Net Reviews"

"Steven Laurence Kaplan raises powerfully important questions about the proper scale for an economy--about how big is too big, and how small is impractical--that go well beyond both France and bread. Indeed, Kaplan's book spurs thought about what a postmodern economy might look like, and whether it might be possible for it to deliver satisfaction instead of simply piles of stuff."--Bill McKibben, "Books & Culture"

"Students of French history and food will find ["Good Bread is Back"] completely absorbing and it should be required reading for any professional."--"Library Journal"

"Throughout this work, Kaplan powerfully demonstrates the symbolic charge of bread as it is ''deeply bound up with the basic values of sociability and well-being, with sacred and secular in communion' (304). . . . Kaplan reminds us through bread, that bread sums up the human experience."--Samuel Snyder, "Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics"

"[A] book every serious American bread enthusiast ought to read. . . . A good storyteller, Kaplan describes his large cast of characters in sharp detail, with numerous protagonists and antagonists, and does a fine job of capturing the center of good in each of them."--Peter Reinhart, "Gastronomica"

"A magnificent combination of polemic and scholarship, it asks how the superlative French bread of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries gave way to the disappointing industrial loaves of the 1960s onwards; and how these in turn, have been happily supplanted by a new generation of artisananal baguettes, batards and boules."--Bee Wilson, "Times Literary Supplement"

"You will never look at a French baguette in the same way again. Chock full of delicious details about every aspect of breadmaking, prepared with verve and loving devotion by a master of his craft, this book has something to appeal to every reader. Bread will never again seem a simple food; Steven Laurence Kaplan uses it to open up the deepest secrets of French life in the modern world."--Lynn Hunt, coauthor of"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution"

""Good Bread Is Back" is a fascinating book that sums up the history of bread baking in France over the past several centuries. The author does it lovingly in a style that will move you to repair to your kitchen and oven to make bread that 'sings' as the golden yellow crust crackles as it cools, and a bite of it does not melt in the mouth right away but reveals the force of its taste only gradually as you chew. It is a welcome addition to the libraries of those seriously into breadmaking who wish a deeper understanding of the why and wherefore of their own French bread recipes."--Bernard Clayton Jr., author of"Bernard Clayton s New Complete Book of Breads""

From the Back Cover

"Like its subject matter, this book is a delicious and irresistible labor of love. Steven Laurence Kaplan has distilled his vast knowledge of France and French bread into a delightfully readable story that is also a brilliant, illuminating model of how to write contemporary social history."--David A. Bell, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, Johns Hopkins University

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x90874f3c) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x906cb984) out of 5 stars One of the greatest books on french bread ever written 18 Dec. 2010
By Appliance & Kitchen Fan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I've just downloaded this to the free pc kindle reader provided by amazon, and I'm reading the first chapter.

This is THE BOOK I've been waiting for. This is the history of French bread, it's for people like my husband and I who have been trying to perfect the perfect baguette for years. Literally YEARS. I have looked at Raymond Calvel's The Taste of Bread on google books, but you can't read the entire thing on it, so this may possibly be my next purchase after the Kaplan book.

If you are into the history of the baguette and want to know how baguettes caused, yes CAUSED the French Revolution then this is your book. I am also interested in how the French reacted during WW2 when they were forced to use inferior German flour instead of French flour and were making, once again, terrible baguettes. I have heard that the French were very depressed about the state of the baguette during that period and that the art of making baguettes was lost....

Some people to THIS DAY state that the taste of baguettes went downhill after the war, that the bakers no longer made the great bread that they had made before the war. Mr. Calvel and subsequently Mr. Kaplan set out to try and reverse this. Raymond Calvel worked diligently to bring back the recipes and the ways that the French had used before the entire horrible episode of WW2.

Raymond Calvel was also Julia Child's teacher at the Cordon Bleu, and he was one of the inspirations for Mr. Kaplan and this book. Mr. Kaplan is an incredible treasure, a bread historian...who is very respected in France (!) though he is American.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x908a8930) out of 5 stars Before it is good to eat, it has to be good to think! 18 Feb. 2014
By tommylebaker - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Every prime minister should read this book! Respect fermentation! Respect humanity! Totally enjoyed the social history of bread and a country.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x907cafc0) out of 5 stars Bad writing about good bread 15 Mar. 2013
By Richard - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I was really excited when I stumbled upon this book. I bake bread (naturally leavened sourdough) in my kitchen and have become increasingly interested in the history.

This book was very disappointing. While seemingly well researched with interesting quotes and facts at times, it's painfully intellectual and meandering, and I had a hard time telling where the author was going in the parts I was able to read. The author should consider that a similar renaissance to the bread he loves is required in how people write history - history is a STORY, and usually it can be a really incredible story with the right writer. But reading this overwhelmed me with a stuffy, university dullness that didn't evoke any of the feelings of a complex history, or the current food renaissance that is taking place. The topic of the industrialization of our food, in particular in the country with one of the richest and most varied traditions (France), is too important to not be taken up by another more capable author.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9180460c) out of 5 stars Confusing 3 Mar. 2013
By kitinthehat - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A subject that I would really like to know more about but I just couldn't get into this. Is it badly edited? Very hard to follow,
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9207b3cc) out of 5 stars The book is an excellent source for those who believe that bread 6 July 2015
By Cesar Augusto Fogarin - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is an excellent source for those who believe that bread, butter and wine are the base food of the western civilization. The best book on the matter.
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