The story of the sixteenth-century’s epic contest for the spice trade, which propelled European maritime exploration and conquest across Asia and the Pacific
Spices drove the early modern world economy, and for Europeans they represented riches on an unprecedented scale. Cloves and nutmeg could reach Europe only via a complex web of trade routes, and for decades Spanish and Portuguese explorers competed to find their elusive source. But when the Portuguese finally reached the spice islands of the Moluccas in 1511, they set in motion a fierce competition for control.
Roger Crowley shows how this struggle shaped the modern world. From 1511 to 1571, European powers linked up the oceans, established vast maritime empires, and gave birth to global trade, all in the attempt to control the supply of spices.
Taking us on voyages from the dockyards of Seville to the vastness of the Pacific, the volcanic Spice Islands of Indonesia, the Arctic Circle, and the coasts of China, this is a narrative history rich in vivid eyewitness accounts of the adventures, shipwrecks, and sieges that formed the first colonial encounters—and remade the world economy for centuries to follow.
Roger Crowley is a narrative historian of the early modern period. He is the author of five celebrated books, including City of Fortune: How Venice Won and Lost a Naval Empire and Conquerors: How Portugal Forged the First Global Empire.
“An eminently readable account of a thrilling historical moment that transformed the world – and shaped it to become the one we live in today.”—Zoltán Biedermann, author of (Dis)Connected Empires
“An extraordinary voyage through the sixteenth century with a master storyteller. Spice is a rollicking historical tale wherein incredible seafaring adventure collides with the geopolitics of the first global supply chain.”—Admiral James Stavridis, USN (Ret), 16th Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and author of To Risk It All
“Roger Crowley is a great narrator, matched here to his greatest theme: the circling of the planet to create for the first time a truly global economy. A heart-pulsing story of terrifying hardship and inspiring courage.”—David Frum, Senior Editor at the Atlantic
“A terrific story packed with powerful characters, and transformational moments in history, one that explains how and why the global world was created, and at what cost.”—Andrew Lambert, author of Seapower States
“A spirited account of the brave, greedy, brutal, and often foolhardy incursions of Spanish-financed adventurers into what is now Indonesia and the Philippines.”—Michael Krondl, author of The Taste of Conquest
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