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Hardcover Nathaniel's Nutmeg: Or, the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History Book

ISBN: 0374219362

ISBN13: 9780374219369

Nathaniel's Nutmeg: Or, the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History

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Book Overview

A true tale of high adventure in the South Seas. The tiny island of Run is an insignificant speck in the Indonesian archipelago. Just two miles long and half a mile wide, it is remote, tranquil, and,... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Colourful tale based during wonderful time in history

I loved this book, it was very readable and it covered an area of history which I personally found really interesting. The title is misleading as the story is not centrally based around Nathaniel. This is more a collection of tales from European age of discovery. These tales are fascinating often hilarious and Milton does not spare us the true picture of the cruelity and barbarity of the time.

Rediscovering history in the best possible way

I loved this book- just loved it. Not only is the subject fascinating, it is well researched, beautifully written and a gripping story. Starting with literature such as Shakespeare and Chaucer, Milton sets the stage by taking us back to the fifteenth and sixteenth century to trace the use of nutmeg and spices in the Western world and to build a picture of its importance and popularity.He then diversifies and constructs a deeply layered and satisfying picture of the historical development of the importation of Nutmeg to the west. In fact, for a long time no one in the west even knew where it came from at all. The Spice route was necessarily complicated and so would travel mysterious routes to reach Constantinople where the Venetian monopoly would bring it further west. The bizarre, sometimes hilarious (and usually tragic ) attempts to find and claim the Spice Islands followed and then the amazing and a courageous story of Nathaniel Courthorpe follows.Milton's book is a beautifully written, he easily blends the diverse elements of the story, the political situation, the personalities, the competing countries and so on to build a profoundly satisfying and personal book. The detail in it is drawn out and only adds to the richness of the book. I really enjoyed his style and will search out "TheRiddle and the Knight', one of Milton's earlier books, next.Nathaniel's Nutmeg reminded me a lot of two other gems of books I have read recently, 'The Arcanum' by Janet Gleeson and Dava Sobel's 'Longitude'. If you liked either of those books, then try this. (or if you liked this try either of these) The purpose behind all these books is that they take a small piece of history, something that was pivotal at the time, but has been long forgotten. In this case the finding of, and establishment of a colony for Nutmeg.This is a book I will have great pleasure in re-reading regularly.


When I was a lad at school, History was as dry as the paper it was written on - memorising numbers and names for no reason that I could discern. The books gave no insight, the teachers did their best, but it had no bearing on 'today'. This book is full of dates and names (the lifeblood of History), but every page is alive with the souls of those people who made History. Ostensibly the story of Nathaniel Courthope & nutmeg, we are halfway through the book before we meet him, all the previous pages are background build-up, in graphic detail, of what made the spice islands and in particular Run, such a focus of attention for the whole world. We are taken on a whirlwind journey across the centuries and round the globe, each chapter heralding the next with a snippet of information, like dangling bait, so one is eagerly waiting for the next chapter to unfold. This is not just a compilation of events and dates, the meticulous background research that went into this must have taken years; Giles Milton has studied every scrap of available material, in umpteen languges, specifically to flesh out the bones of what could have been another dusty tome. The heroes and villains of the piece are REAL people in this book, people you want to meet (or avoid!) and they are brought to life by the fluid style of Mr. Milton's prose - it drags you along with it, urging you to read faster and faster, ultimately having to stop for lack of mental breath - then off into the fray again. I cannot praise this too highly - a revelation for those who thought that history is bunk!

Not Just A Nifty Title

Put on your windbreaker and get a firm grasp on both arms of your easychair and get ready for a great adventure! This book is that good. It flies along at breakneck speed with never a dull moment. Mr. Milton has a wonderful style and he has obviously done a tremendous amount of research in putting this book together. There are a lot of quotes from the primary sources, which makes for very interesting reading as you get a"you are there" feel. Actually, Nathaniel Courthope, from the title of the book is only a relatively small, though integral, part of the story. Mr. Milton gives brief but vivid character sketches of many of the Dutch and English sailors, merchants and explorers who were involved in this long and bloody trade war. Also, the book is not confined to just talking about the East Indies. It moves around from England, Holland, India, etc. to the Arctic and the search for a Northeast Passage and to Manhattan and the Hudson River and the search for a Northwest Passage. One note for the squeamish: the participants in the fight for control of the nutmeg trade did not obey the Marquis of Queensbury's rules for fighting fair. The book is full of beheadings; people being keelhauled and drawn and quartered and there is a horrific chapter on English sailors being tortured by their Dutch captors that is worthy of the worst things done during the Spanish Inquisition. If your picture of the Dutch East India Company is one of fat and jolly pipe smoking burghers, think again!

An exciting, intriguing, and entertaining book!

Where James Clavell's "Shogun" is fiction, "Nathaniel's Nutmeg" is fact. It was like reading an exciting piece of historical fiction in the James Clavell tradition while knowing it was all true. At times I was laughing at the pure humor of the book only to turn the page and be totally horrified by the shear brutality of those early spice traders. When I was finished with the book, I wanted find the nearest port, jump on a ship and sail for the East Indies to make my fortune. This is one of the best books I have ever read. If you love high seas adventure with a historical twist, this is the book for you.
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