Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: How One Man’s Courage Changed the Course of History” as Want to Read:
Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: How One Man’s Courage Changed the Course of History
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  3,121 Ratings  ·  275 Reviews
Consider the humble jar of nutmeg pushed to the back of your kitchen cupboard, among all the other spices that you hardly ever use. Would you believe that nutmeg formed the basis for one of the most bitter international conflicts of the 17th century, and was also intimately connected to the rise to global pre-eminence of New York City? Strange but true; nutmeg was one of t ...more
Published 2005 by Penguin (first published March 4th 1999)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Adolf Sinaga The Island of Run/Roen/Roem is still inhabited with few local Bandanese and Bajaus. Its nothing of real importance nowadays. I must add that just few…moreThe Island of Run/Roen/Roem is still inhabited with few local Bandanese and Bajaus. Its nothing of real importance nowadays. I must add that just few meters from the beach, there are plenty of top notch snorkeling spots and more off coast for divers. (less)
Nishay As Adolf mentioned, there are no signs of Nathaniel or his contribution towards Banda's history on the islands even at the local museum. Maybe it was…moreAs Adolf mentioned, there are no signs of Nathaniel or his contribution towards Banda's history on the islands even at the local museum. Maybe it was never created or maybe it was destroyed by the Dutch, who knows? The part played by the Dutch in the region's history and their influences are well preserved on the island of Ambon or Amboyna as in the book. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-10)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jul 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There was a time when people killed and died for nutmeg. Imagine that! Stinking nutmeg! Not even oregano or at least cinnamon. I must say on my list of things I would be willing to die for nutmeg is somewhere at the bottom, right before marmite.

Nonetheless, The Dutch and the English and the Portuguese would fight relentlessly over the access to nutmeg. Apart from successfully killing the smell and taste of rotten meat, nutmeg was also known for curing just about anything from the plague to impo
It was an interesting read. As other reviews have mentioned, this is a book one should not judge by their title. (Perhaps a better fit would have been The Dastardly Deeds of the Dutch versus the Entrepid English (pardon the typo, I'm a fan of alliteration)). Anyway, it was interesting. I'd like to think of other adjectives for it, but it was such an overwhelming collection of information. Surprisingly not very optimistic either, with a history of the failures of the English to develop a strongho ...more
This book reminds me of Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded by Simon Winchester. An interesting book about something (major) happened in Indonesia but the author decided that the readers will be happy with many side stories that detract from the main topic.

I had the wrong expectation when I bought this book since I was expecting an account of the colonization of Banda Islands and the struggle of the natives. Instead, this book dedicates far more pages for events NOT in Banda but somewhere else
I'm marginally ill today - mild fever, slight achiness, low energy - and because of that, I'm disappointed that I've already finished Giles Milton's Nathaniel's Nutmeg: or, the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History. Because this, my friends, is my version of the perfect home-sick-from-work book. A true story (more or less), it nonetheless reads like an old-fashioned swashbuckler, complete with bravery, treachery, derring-do, clandestine dealings, be ...more
Mar 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
What a ridiculous title; very little to do with Nathaniel (Courthope), and the use of the singular nutmeg just grates (if you excuse the pun).

That said, this is an interesting introduction to Western Europe's involvement in the global race to corner the spice market. Particular focus is given to the increasingly bitter and deadly rivalries of the 17th Century English and Dutch spice merchants as they vie for control of the remote archipelagos of Indonesia along with their precious crops of clov
'Aussie Rick'
Nov 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history

This is an enjoyable book to read, easy to get into and hard to put down. I found the story of the Spice Trade to be quite interesting and that I suppose was a result of the hard work put in by the author. The story was fun, vibrant and quite blood-thirsty and all over a little 'nut'. This is good fun history and the story is well told. Well done to the author!
Bart Thanhauser

Nathaniel’s Nutmeg is about the battle for trade supremacy in the East Indies between the Dutch and English in the late 16th, early 17th century. The book focuses on the Banda Islands—a series of tiny islands in current day Maluku, which itself is an adaptation of the Portuguese word Moluccas meaning “spiceries”. This is essentially what the islands were for European merchants: spice plantations. With waves of the plague hitting Europe and the belief that nutmeg and mace were cure-alls,
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-and-drink, spice
I love to read history. The most wonderful, improbable, intriguing stories are lurking in our history books, if we have the patience and wit to find them. Obviously, I think Giles Milton has found one of those fascinating, obscure true life adventures. Nathaniel Courthope really was an amazing heroic figure that time has consigned to forgotten dusty pages. He and the other swashbuckling characters of the East India trade are all but unknown today, but they swashed their way to creating the great ...more
Beth Cato
Apr 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in, history, 2009, nonfiction
The title of this is somewhat misleading; it's not simply Nathaniel Courthope's story, but that of various men over a century who fought and died over islands that don't even garner a mention on most contemporary maps.[return][return]The tiny island of Run is in the Indonesian archipelago. Five hundred years ago, that small cluster of volcanic islands was the only place in the world where one could find clover and nutmeg. And everyone wanted it - the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the En ...more
I have spent a good part of my reading life finishing everything I start. I can count on one hand the number of books I've started and haven't finished. To my credit, I have been a librarian for a long time and rarely do I start something that I don't think I'll like. I read too many book reviews, spend too much time on Goodreads, and pay attention to things like book awards to just randomly pick up a book off the shelf and start it. So my 99% completion rate isn't exactly that surprising.
What i
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Beans: A History
  • Bittersweet: The Story of Sugar
  • The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World
  • Spice: The History of a Temptation
  • The Devil's Cup: A History of the World According to Coffee
  • The Story of Corn
  • Tea: The Drink that Changed the World
  • Barrow's Boys: The Original Extreme Adventurers: A Stirring Story of Daring Fortitude and Outright Lunacy
  • The Coffee House: A Cultural History
  • Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World
  • The Taste of Conquest: The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice
  • Seeds of Change: Six Plants That Transformed Mankind
  • Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages
  • For All the Tea in China: Espionage, Empire and the Secret Formula for the World's Favourite Drink
  • The True History of Chocolate
  • A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier
  • Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World's Favorite Flavor and Fragrance
  • Merchant Kings: When Companies Ruled the World, 1600 - 1900
British writer and journalist Giles Milton was born in Buckinghamshire in 1966. He has contributed articles for most of the British national newspapers as well as many foreign publications, and specializes in the history of travel and exploration. In the course of his researches, he has traveled extensively in Europe, the Middle East, Japan and the Far East, and the Americas.

Knowledgeable, insati
More about Giles Milton...
“In the Banda Islands, ten pounds of nutmeg cost less than one English penny. In London, that same spice sold for more than £2.10s. – a mark-up of a staggering 60,000 per cent. A small sackful was enough to set a man up for life, buying him a gabled dwelling in Holborn and a servant to attend to his needs” 5 likes
“The local natives were particularly curious to know why the English required such huge quantities of pepper and there was much scratching of heads until it was finally agreed that English houses were so cold that the walls were plastered with crushed pepper in order to produce heat.” 4 likes
More quotes…