The Spice Route: A History

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University of California Press, Sep 17, 2007 - Business & Economics - 308 pages
7 Reviews
The Spice Route is one of history's greatest anomalies: shrouded in mystery, it existed long before anyone knew of its extent or configuration. Spices came from lands unseen, possibly uninhabitable, and almost by definition unattainable; that was what made them so desirable. Yet more livelihoods depended on this pungent traffic, more nations participated in it, more wars were fought for it, and more discoveries resulted from it than from any other global exchange. Epic in scope, marvelously detailed, laced with drama, The Spice Route spans three millennia and circles the world to chronicle the history of the spice trade. With the aid of ancient geographies, travelers' accounts, mariners' handbooks, and ships' logs, John Keay tells of ancient Egyptians who pioneered maritime trade to fetch the incense of Arabia, Graeco-Roman navigators who found their way to India for pepper and ginger, Columbus who sailed west for spices, de Gama, who sailed east for them, and Magellan, who sailed across the Pacific on the exact same quest. A veritable spice race evolved as the west vied for control of the spice-producing islands, stripping them of their innocence and the spice trade of its mystique. This enthralling saga, progressing from the voyages of the ancients to the blue-water trade that came to prevail by the seventeenth century, transports us from the dawn of history to the ends of the earth.

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Review: The Spice Route: A History ( California Studies in Food and Culture #17)

User Review  - Ricki - Goodreads

Fascinating from a historical and geographical point. The earliest routes and the interactions between the countries along the route (routes really because there were many) were a revelation to me and ... Read full review

Review: The Spice Route: A History ( California Studies in Food and Culture #17)

User Review  - ickman - Goodreads

Sort of quick start to finish book for readers who are already into history.Nevertheless, a special thanks to the author who came upon this intriguing topic and produced it as one big journey on the ... Read full review


On the Origin of Species
Frankincense and Cinnamon
Hippalos and the Passage Across

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About the author (2007)

John Keay's recent books include Sowing the Wind: the Mismanagement of the Middle East 1900-1960 and Last Post: The End of Empire in the Far East.