Nathaniel's Nutmeg: How One Man's Courage Changed the Course of History

Nathaniel's Nutmeg: How One Man's Courage Changed the Course of History

Paperback

By (author) Giles Milton

List price $15.61

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  • Publisher: Sceptre
  • Format: Paperback | 400 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 28mm | 300g
  • Publication date: 11 December 1999
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0340696761
  • ISBN 13: 9780340696767
  • Illustrations note: Maps and integrated illustraions
  • Sales rank: 43,385

Product description

In 1616, an English adventurer, Nathaniel Courthope, stepped ashore on a remote island in the East Indies on a secret mission - to persuade the islanders of Run to grant a monopoly to England over their nutmeg, a fabulously valuable spice in Europe. This infuriated the Dutch, who were determined to control the world's nutmeg supply. For five years Courthope and his band of thirty men were besieged by a force one hundred times greater - and his heroism set in motion the events that led to the founding of the greatest city on earth. A beautifully told adventure story and a fascinating depiction of exploration in the seventeenth century, NATHANIEL'S NUTMEG sheds a remarkable light on history.

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Author information

Giles Milton is a writer and journalist. He has contributed articles for most of the British national newspapers as well as many foreign publications and specialises in the history of travel and exploration. In the course of his researches, he has travelled extensively in Europe and the Middle East.

Review quote

A magnificent piece of popular history. ... This is a book to read, reread, then read again to your children. Nicholas Fearn, Independent on Sunday Beautifully touching ... To write a book that makes the reader sit in a trance, lost in his passionate desire to pack a suitcase and go to the fabulous place - that, in the end, is something one would give a sack of nutmeg for. Philip Hensher, The Spectator Giles Milton tells his adventurous and sometimes grisly tale with relish ... The thoroughness and intelligence of his research underpins the lively confidence with which he deploys it. John Spurling, Times Literary Supplement A truly gripping tale... His research is impeccable... Once embarked upon the journey of the book, one is loath, sometimes unable... to turn back and abandon it. Martin Booth, The Sunday Times Milton has a terrific eye for the kind of detail that can bring the past vividly to life The Spectator

Editorial reviews

Milton (The Riddle and the Knight, not reviewed) deftly and arrestingly captures the sorry history of the European lust for nutmeg and its devastating impact on the Spice Islands. Spices from the Orient were already costly curiosities when 16th-century European pharmacists bestowed upon nutmeg a truly marvelous property: It could cure the plague, they said (and dysentery and sexual torpor and a host of other ailments). As most European cities were disease-ridden pest holes at the time, the value of the rare spice took off like a prairie fire. So started the Spice Wars, a series of squalid, brutal engagements between the English, Dutch, and Portuguese, played out on the small Pacific islands now known as the Moluccas, and recounted here by Milton with beguiling fluidity. Milton traces European involvement with the Spice Islands from the time they were merely an exquisite rumor peddled by spice traders from Constantinople through to the surrender of New Amsterdam to the English in return for the latter's quitting the tiny nutmeg island of Run, said island defended by the eponymous Nathaniel Courthope, who with a handful of stalwarts, repelled much larger forces of invasion. Along the way, Milton unfurls more treachery and deceit, acts of political subterfuge and chicanery, displays of cruelty and mortification (along with an occasional show of courage and decency, though "the voice of conscience is never loud" in 16th-century mariners, notes the author) than you could squeeze into a pulp thriller. It's a classic portrait of colonial barbarity that results in the eradication of an entire native population and then ends in a whimper: The British transplanted the trees to colonial Bencoolen and Singapore and Ceylon, and, oh yes, nutmeg didn't cure the plague either. Milton is a storyteller of the first rank, with a knack for quick character sketches, an eye for what is important and what is dross, and a refreshing sense of humor, even amid the smoke and ruin he so well describes. (Kirkus Reviews)