Through tracing the trade route of the spices, John Keay wrote a new history about the ancient world. Spices have played a prominent role in the construction of the modern world, without any healthy quotient spices attract world’s first explorers and travelers.
The resulting volume, culled from historical commentaries and records, is a colorful and detailed portrait of the astonishing impact man's love for flavor had on the earliest stages of globalization. The route by which Keay's narrative travels is seasoned with facts and anecdotes, ranging from ancient historians' fantastic reports of men with "pendulous upper lips" and the heads of dogs-or none at all-to the Muslim invasion of India and the Islamification of Malaysia.
There is a surprising mythology surrounding the spice trade, and Keay does this angle ample justice, citing figures such as Marco Polo, Ibn Batuta and Roman playwright Plautus. Although Keay ends his book with the grim conclusion that the forces of globalization are to blame for the demystification and downfall of "spice," the work itself is nothing short of zesty.