The encyclopedia's three comprehensive volumes cover an extraordinarily wide range of Asian American cultural and ethnic groups, as well as mixed-race and mixed-heritage Asian Americans. Each group section is introduced by a historical overview essay followed by short entries on topics such as ghosts and spirits, clothes and jewelry, arts and crafts, home decorations, family and community, religious practices, rituals, holidays, music, foodways, literature, traditional healing and medicine, and much, much more. Topics and theories are examined from crosscultural and interdisciplinary perspectives to add to the value of the work.
Women's Roles in Asia examines the full scope of women's lives throughout history, including specific topics such as education, family life, marriage and childbearing, religion, public life, economics, legal status, and literature and the arts. A timeline and introduction provide a backdrop to the events, achievements, and issues that have impacted Asian women from pre-colonial time to the present day.
The study begins with an historical analysis of the relationship between liberation theology, the Catholic Church, and the nationalist struggle. The remaining chapters look at the real experiences of people living and working in the BECs, as they struggle against some of the negative impacts of traditional approaches to development. In addition, the author illustrates how BECs can fail when environmental and social factors clash with a community's attempts at development, and highlights the theology and religious aspects of the BEC movement. This unique contribution to the study of liberation theology and development will be of interest to scholars, students, and professionals working with development agencies and religious organizations.
Written with the style of a great novelist and the intrigue of a Cold War thriller, Embers of War is a landmark work that will forever change your understanding of how and why America went to war in Vietnam. Tapping newly accessible diplomatic archives in several nations, Fredrik Logevall traces the path that led two Western nations to tragically lose their way in the jungles of Southeast Asia. He brings to life the bloodiest battles of France’s final years in Indochina—and shows how, from an early point, a succession of American leaders made disastrous policy choices that put America on its own collision course with history. An epic story of wasted opportunities and deadly miscalculations, Embers of War delves deep into the historical record to provide hard answers to the unanswered questions surrounding the demise of one Western power in Vietnam and the arrival of another. Eye-opening and compulsively readable, Embers of War is a gripping, heralded work that illuminates the hidden history of the French and American experiences in Vietnam.
ONE OF THE MOST ACCLAIMED WORKS OF HISTORY IN RECENT YEARS
Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians • Winner of the American Library in Paris Book Award • Winner of the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award • Finalist for the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • The Christian Science Monitor • The Globe and Mail
“A balanced, deeply researched history of how, as French colonial rule faltered, a succession of American leaders moved step by step down a road toward full-blown war.”—Pulitzer Prize citation
“This extraordinary work of modern history combines powerful narrative thrust, deep scholarly authority, and quiet interpretive confidence.”—Francis Parkman Prize citation
“A monumental history . . . a widely researched and eloquently written account of how the U.S. came to be involved in Vietnam . . . certainly the most comprehensive review of this period to date.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Superb . . . a product of formidable international research.”—The Washington Post
“Lucid and vivid . . . [a] definitive history.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“An essential work for those seeking to understand the worst foreign-policy adventure in American history . . . Even though readers know how the story ends—as with The Iliad—they will be as riveted by the tale as if they were hearing it for the first time.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“A remarkable new history . . . Logevall skillfully explains everything that led up to Vietnam’s fatal partition in 1954 [and] peppers the grand sweep of his book with vignettes of remarkable characters, wise and foolish.”—The Economist
“Fascinating, beautifully written . . . Logevall’s account provides much new detail and important new insights. . . . It is impossible to read the book without being struck by contemporary parallels.”—Foreign Policy
“[A] brilliant history of how the French colonial war to hang on to its colonies in Indochina became what the Vietnamese now call ‘the American war.’”—Esquire
“An excellent, valuable book.”—The Dallas Morning News
For seventy-seven days, the Marines and a contingent of US Army Special Forces endured artillery barrages, sniper fire, ground assaults, and ambushes. Air Force, Marine, and Navy pilots braved perilous flying conditions to deliver supplies, evacuate casualties, and stem the North Vietnamese Army's onslaught. As President Lyndon B. Johnson weighed the use of tactical nuclear weapons, Americans watched the shocking drama unfold on nightly newscasts. Through it all, the bloodied defenders of Khe Sanh held firm and prepared for an Alamo-like last stand.
Now, Gregg Jones takes readers into the trenches and bunkers at Khe Sanh to tell the story of this extraordinary moment in American history. Last Stand at Khe Sanh captures the exceptional courage and brotherhood that sustained the American fighting men throughout the ordeal. It brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters-young high school dropouts and rootless rebels in search of John Wayne glory; grizzled Korean War veterans; daredevil pilots; gritty platoon leaders and company commanders; and courageous Navy surgeons who volunteered to serve in combat with the storied Marines.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with siege survivors, thousands of pages of archival documents, and scores of oral history accounts, Gregg Jones delivers a poignant and heart-pounding narrative worthy of the heroic defense of Khe Sanh.
In Stay Alive, My Son, Pin Yathay provides an unforgettable testament of the horror that ensued and a gripping account of personal courage, sacrifice and survival. Documenting the 27 months from the arrival of the Khmer Rouge in Phnom Penh to his escape into Thailand, Pin Yathay is a powerful and haunting memoir of Cambodia's killing fields.
With seventeen members of his family, Pin Yathay were evacuated by the Khmer Rouge from Phnom Penh, taking with them whatever they might need for the three days before they would be allowed to return to their home. Instead, they were moved on from camp to camp, their possessions confiscated or abandoned. As days became weeks and weeks became months, they became the "New People," displaced urban dwellers compelled to live and work as peasants, their days were filled with forced manual labor and their survival dependent on ever more meager communal rations. The body count mounted, first as malnutrition bred rampant disease and then as the Khmer Rouge singled out the dissidents for sudden death in the darkness.
Eventually, Pin Yathay's family was reduced to just himself, his wife, and their one remaining son, Nawath. Wracked with pain and disease, robbed of all they had owned, living on the very edge of dying, they faced a future of escalating horror. With Nawath too ill to travel, Pin Yathay and his wife, Any, had to make the heart-breaking decision whether to leave him to the care of a Cambodian hospital in order to make a desperate break for freedom. "Stay alive, my son," he tells Nawath before embarking on a nightmarish escape to the Thai border.
First published in 1987, the Cornell edition of Stay Alive, My Son includes an updated preface and epilogue by Pin Yathay and a new foreword by David Chandler, a world-renowned historian of Cambodia, who attests to the continuing value and urgency of Pin Yathay's message.
A few bloody months in South Asia during the summer of 1947 explain the world that troubles us today.
Nobody expected the liberation of India and birth of Pakistan to be so bloody — it was supposed to be an answer to the dreams of Muslims and Hindus who had been ruled by the British for centuries. Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhi’s protégé and the political leader of India, believed Indians were an inherently nonviolent, peaceful people. Pakistan’s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was a secular lawyer, not a firebrand. But in August 1946, exactly a year before Independence, Calcutta erupted in street-gang fighting. A cycle of riots — targeting Hindus, then Muslims, then Sikhs — spiraled out of control. As the summer of 1947 approached, all three groups were heavily armed and on edge, and the British rushed to leave. Hell let loose. Trains carried Muslims west and Hindus east to their slaughter. Some of the most brutal and widespread ethnic cleansing in modern history erupted on both sides of the new border, searing a divide between India and Pakistan that remains a root cause of many evils. From jihadi terrorism to nuclear proliferation, the searing tale told in Midnight’s Furies explains all too many of the headlines we read today.
In the three and a half years of Pol Pot's rule, more than a million Cambodians, a fifth of the country's population, were executed or died from hunger. An idealistic and reclusive figure, Pol Pot sought to instill in his people values of moral purity and self-abnegation through a revolution of radical egalitarianism. In the process his country descended into madness, becoming a concentration camp of the mind, a slave state in which obedience was enforced on the killing fields.
How did a utopian dream of shared prosperity mutate into one of the worst nightmares humanity has ever known? To understand this almost inconceivable mystery, Philip Short explores Pol Pot's life from his early years to his death. Short spent four years traveling throughout Cambodia interviewing the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge movement, many of whom have never spoken before, including Pol Pot's brother-in-law and the former Khmer Rouge head of state. He also sifted through the previously closed archives of China, Russia, Vietnam, and Cambodia itself to trace the fate of one man and the nation that he led into ruin.
This powerful biography reveals that Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge were not a one-off aberration but instead grew out of a darkness of the soul common to all peoples. Cambodian history and culture combined with intervention from the United States and other nations to set the stage for a disaster whose horrors echo loudly in the troubling events of our world today.
From their very beginnings, China and India have been walled off from each other: by the towering summits of the Himalayas, by a vast and impenetrable jungle, by hostile tribes and remote inland kingdoms stretching a thousand miles from Calcutta across Burma to the upper Yangtze River.
Soon this last great frontier will vanish—the forests cut down, dirt roads replaced by superhighways, insurgencies crushed—leaving China and India exposed to each other as never before. This basic shift in geography—as sudden and profound as the opening of the Suez Canal—will lead to unprecedented connections among the three billion people of Southeast Asia and the Far East.
What will this change mean? Thant Myint-U is in a unique position to know. Over the past few years he has traveled extensively across this vast territory, where high-speed trains and gleaming new shopping malls are now coming within striking distance of the last far-flung rebellions and impoverished mountain communities. And he has explored the new strategic centrality of Burma, where Asia's two rising, giant powers appear to be vying for supremacy.
At once a travelogue, a work of history, and an informed look into the future, Where China Meets India takes us across the fast-changing Asian frontier, giving us a masterful account of the region's long and rich history and its sudden significance for the rest of the world.
On November 20, 1943 the 2nd Marine Division launched the first amphibious assault of the Pacific War, directly into the teeth of powerful Japanese defenses on Tarawa. In that blood-soaked invasion, a single company of Sherman tanks, of which only two survived, played a pivotal role in turning the tide from looming disaster to legendary victory. In this unique study, Oscar E. Gilbert and Romain V. Cansiere use official documents, memoirs, and interviews with veterans, as well as personal and aerial photographs, to follow Charlie Company from its formation, and trace the movement, action—and loss—of individual tanks in this horrific 4-day struggle.
The authors follow the company from training through the brutal 76-hour struggle for Tarawa. Survivor accounts and air-photo analyses document the movements—and destruction—of the company’s individual tanks. It is a story of escapes from drowning tanks, and even more harrowing extrications from tanks knocked out behind Japanese lines. It is a story of men doing whatever needed to be done, from burying the dead to hand-carrying heavy cannon ammunition forward under fire. It is the story of how the two surviving tanks and their crews expanded a perilously thin beachhead and cleared the way for critical reinforcements to come ashore. But most of all, it is a story of how a few unsung Marines helped turn near disaster into epic victory.
During the first half of this century the forests of Thailand were home to wandering ascetic monks. They were Buddhists, but their brand of Buddhism did not copy the practices described in ancient doctrinal texts. Their Buddhism found expression in living day-to-day in the forest and in contending with the mental and physical challenges of hunger, pain, fear, and desire. Combining interviews and biographies with an exhaustive knowledge of archival materials and a wide reading of ephemeral popular literature, Kamala Tiyavanich documents the monastic lives of three generations of forest-dwelling ascetics and challenges the stereotype of state-centric Thai Buddhism.
Although the tradition of wandering forest ascetics has disappeared, a victim of Thailand's relentless modernization and rampant deforestation, the lives of the monks presented here are a testament to the rich diversity of regional Buddhist traditions. The study of these monastic lineages and practices enriches our understanding of Buddhism in Thailand and elsewhere.
Martini reinforces his assessment of American diplomacy with an analysis of the "cultural front" -- the movies, myths, memorials, and other phenomena that supported continuing hostility toward Vietnam while silencing opposing views of the war and its legacies. He thus demonstrates that the "American War on Vietnam" was as much a battle for the cultural memory of the war within the United States as it was a lengthy economic, political, and diplomatic campaign to punish a former adversary.
—H. R. McMaster (from the Conclusion)
Dereliction Of Duty is a stunning analysis of how and why the United States became involved in an all-out and disastrous war in Southeast Asia. Fully and convincingly researched, based on transcripts and personal accounts of crucial meetings, confrontations and decisions, it is the only book that fully re-creates what happened and why. McMaster pinpoints the policies and decisions that got the United States into the morass and reveals who made these decisions and the motives behind them, disproving the published theories of other historians and excuses of the participants.
A page-turning narrative, Dereliction Of Duty focuses on a fascinating cast of characters: President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, General Maxwell Taylor, McGeorge Bundy and other top aides who deliberately deceived the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. Congress and the American public.
McMaster’s only book, Dereliction of Duty is an explosive and authoritative new look at the controversy concerning the United States involvement in Vietnam.
The coup marked the collapse of the Diem government and became the US entry point for a decade-long conflict in Vietnam. Kennedy's death and the atrocities of the ensuing war eclipsed the memory of Madame Nhu—with her daunting mixture of fierceness and beauty. But at the time, to David Halberstam, she was “the beautiful but diabolic sex dictatress,” and Malcolm Browne called her “the most dangerous enemy a man can have.”
By 1987, the once-glamorous celebrity had retreated into exile and seclusion, and remained there until young American Monique Demery tracked her down in Paris thirty years later. Finding the Dragon Lady is Demery's story of her improbable relationship with Madame Nhu, and—having ultimately been entrusted with Madame Nhu's unpublished memoirs and her diary from the years leading up to the coup—the first full history of the Dragon Lady herself, a woman who was feared and fantasized over in her time, and who singlehandedly frustrated the government of one of the world's superpowers.
Named for a courageous Russian freedom fighter of World War II, Zoya was fourteen when Burmese aircraft bombed her peaceful village, forcing her and her family to flee through the jungles to a refugee camp just over the border in Thailand. After being trapped in refugee camps for years in poverty and despair, her family scattered: as her father became more deeply involved in the struggle for freedom, Zoya and her sister left their mother in the camp to go to a college in Bangkok to which they had won scholarships. But even as she attended classes, Zoya, the girl from the jungle, had to dodge police and assume an urban disguise, as she was technically an illegal immigrant and subject to deportation. Although, following graduation, she obtained a comfortable job with a major communications company in Bangkok, Zoya felt called back to Burma to help her mother and her people, millions of whom still have to live on the run today in order to survive—in fact, more villages have been destroyed in eastern Burma than in Darfur, Sudan.
After a plot to kill her was uncovered, in 2004 Zoya escaped to the United Kingdom, where she began speaking at political conferences and demonstrations—a mission made all the more vital by her father’s assassination in 2008 by agents of the Burmese regime. Like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Zoya has become a powerful spokesperson against oppressors, undaunted by dangers posed to her life. Zoya’s love of her people, their land, and their way of life fuels her determination to survive, and in Undaunted she hauntingly brings to life a lost culture and world, putting faces to the stories of the numberless innocent victims of Burma’s military
Throughout the war's last years and in the decades since, Allen argues, the effort to recover lost warriors was as much a means to establish responsibility for their loss as it was a search for answers about their fate. Though millions of Americans and Vietnamese took part in that effort, POW and MIA families and activists dominated it. Insisting that the war was not over "until the last man comes home," this small, determined group turned the unprecedented accounting effort against those they blamed for their suffering. Allen demonstrates that POW/MIA activism prolonged the hostility between the United States and Vietnam even as the search for the missing became the basis for closer ties between the two countries in the 1990s. Equally important, he explains, POW/MIA families' disdain for the antiwar left and contempt for federal authority fueled the conservative ascendancy after 1968. Mixing political, cultural, and diplomatic history, Until the Last Man Comes Home presents the full and lasting impact of the Vietnam War in ways that are both familiar and surprising.
From Robert D. Kaplan, named one of the world’s Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine, comes a penetrating look at the volatile region that will dominate the future of geopolitical conflict.
Over the last decade, the center of world power has been quietly shifting from Europe to Asia. With oil reserves of several billion barrels, an estimated nine hundred trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and several centuries’ worth of competing territorial claims, the South China Sea in particular is a simmering pot of potential conflict. The underreported military buildup in the area where the Western Pacific meets the Indian Ocean means that it will likely be a hinge point for global war and peace for the foreseeable future.
In Asia’s Cauldron, Robert D. Kaplan offers up a vivid snapshot of the nations surrounding the South China Sea, the conflicts brewing in the region at the dawn of the twenty-first century, and their implications for global peace and stability. One of the world’s most perceptive foreign policy experts, Kaplan interprets America’s interests in Asia in the context of an increasingly assertive China. He explains how the region’s unique geography fosters the growth of navies but also impedes aggression. And he draws a striking parallel between China’s quest for hegemony in the South China Sea and the United States’ imperial adventure in the Caribbean more than a century ago.
To understand the future of conflict in East Asia, Kaplan argues, one must understand the goals and motivations of its leaders and its people. Part travelogue, part geopolitical primer, Asia’s Cauldron takes us on a journey through the region’s boom cities and ramshackle slums: from Vietnam, where the superfueled capitalism of the erstwhile colonial capital, Saigon, inspires the geostrategic pretensions of the official seat of government in Hanoi, to Malaysia, where a unique mix of authoritarian Islam and Western-style consumerism creates quite possibly the ultimate postmodern society; and from Singapore, whose “benevolent autocracy” helped foster an economic miracle, to the Philippines, where a different brand of authoritarianism under Ferdinand Marcos led not to economic growth but to decades of corruption and crime.
At a time when every day’s news seems to contain some new story—large or small—that directly relates to conflicts over the South China Sea, Asia’s Cauldron is an indispensable guide to a corner of the globe that will affect all of our lives for years to come.
Praise for Asia’s Cauldron
“Asia’s Cauldron is a short book with a powerful thesis, and it stands out for its clarity and good sense. . . . If you are doing business in China, traveling in Southeast Asia or just obsessing about geopolitics, you will want to read it.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Kaplan has established himself as one of our most consequential geopolitical thinkers. . . . [Asia’s Cauldron] is part treatise on geopolitics, part travel narrative. Indeed, he writes in the tradition of the great travel writers.”—The Weekly Standard
“Kaplan’s fascinating book is a welcome challenge to the pessimists who see only trouble in China’s rise and the hawks who view it as malign.”—The Economist
“Muscular, deeply knowledgeable . . . Kaplan is an ultra-realist [who] takes a non-moralistic stance on questions of power and diplomacy.”—Financial Times
From the Hardcover edition.
In Translating Time, Bliss Cua Lim argues that fantastic cinema depicts the coexistence of other modes of being alongside and within the modern present, disclosing multiple “immiscible temporalities” that strain against the modern concept of homogeneous time. In this wide-ranging study—encompassing Asian American video (On Cannibalism), ghost films from the New Cinema movements of Hong Kong and the Philippines (Rouge, Itim, Haplos), Hollywood remakes of Asian horror films (Ju-on, The Grudge, A Tale of Two Sisters) and a Filipino horror film cycle on monstrous viscera suckers (Aswang)—Lim conceptualizes the fantastic as a form of temporal translation. The fantastic translates supernatural agency in secular terms while also exposing an untranslatable remainder, thereby undermining the fantasy of a singular national time and emphasizing shifting temporalities of transnational reception.
Lim interweaves scholarship on visuality with postcolonial historiography. She draws on Henri Bergson’s understanding of cinema as both implicated in homogeneous time and central to its critique, as well as on postcolonial thought linking the ideology of progress to imperialist expansion. At stake in this project are more ethical forms of understanding time that refuse to domesticate difference as anachronism. While supernaturalism is often disparaged as a vestige of primitive or superstitious thought, Lim suggests an alternative interpretation of the fantastic as a mode of resistance to the ascendancy of homogeneous time and a starting-point for more ethical temporal imaginings.
A vivid sense of a colonial culture characterized by an anxious and assertive white masculinity emerges from Anderson’s description of American efforts to treat and discipline allegedly errant Filipinos. His narrative encompasses a colonial obsession with native excrement, a leper colony intended to transform those considered most unclean and least socialized, and the hookworm and malaria programs implemented by the Rockefeller Foundation in the 1920s and 1930s. Throughout, Anderson is attentive to the circulation of intertwined ideas about race, science, and medicine. He points to colonial public health in the Philippines as a key influence on the subsequent development of military medicine and industrial hygiene, U.S. urban health services, and racialized development regimes in other parts of the world.
This dilemma stimulates thinking about the puzzle of state resilience: How has a "weak state" maintained the territorial integrity of the Philippines in the postwar period in the face of two major rebellions and an armed separatist movement, corruption, mismanagement, intractable poverty, weak sovereignty, and an often chaotic electoral system? Why does the inability to collect taxes, secure citizens' lives and property, and maintain economic infrastructure not result in state failure?
State and Society in the Philippines engages the dilemma of state-society relations through a historical treatment of state formation and the corresponding conflicts and collaborations between state leaders and social forces. It examines the long history of institutional state weakness in the Philippines and the efforts made to overcome the state's structural fragility and strengthen its bond with society. It answers these difficult questions by focusing on how the state has shaped and been shaped by its interaction with social forces, especially in the rituals of popular mobilization that have produced surprising and diverse results.
Written by social scientists and historians, these essays investigate various aspects of American colonial government through comparison with and contextualization within colonial regimes elsewhere in the world—from British Malaysia and Dutch Indonesia to Japanese Taiwan and America's other major overseas colony, Puerto Rico. Contributors explore the program of political education in the Philippines; constructions of nationalism, race, and religion; the regulation of opium; connections to politics on the U.S. mainland; and anticolonial resistance. Tracking the complex connections, circuits, and contests across, within, and between empires that shaped America's colonial regime, The American Colonial State in the Philippines sheds new light on the complexities of American imperialism and turn-of-the-century colonialism.
Contributors. Patricio N. Abinales, Donna J. Amoroso, Paul Barclay, Vince Boudreau, Anne L. Foster, Julian Go, Paul A. Kramer
From Jou Yee Xiong's Life Story:
"I stopped teaching my sons many of the Hmong ways because I felt my ancestors and I had suffered enough already. I thought that teaching my children the old ways would only place a burden on them."
From Ka Pao Xiong's (Jou Yee Xiong's son) Life Story:
"It has been very difficult for us to adapt because we had no professions or trades and we suffered from culture shock. Here in America, both the husband and wife must work simultaneously to earn enough money to live on. Many of our children are ignorant of the Hmong way of life.... Even the old people are forgetting about their life in Laos, as they enjoy the prosperity and good life in America."
From Xang Mao Xiong's Life Story:
"When the Communists took over Laos and General Vang Pao fled with his family, we, too, decided to leave. Not only my family, but thousands of Hmong tried to flee. I rented a car for thirty thousand Laotian dollars, and it took us to Nasu.... We felt compelled to leave because many of us had been connected to the CIA.... Thousands of Hmong were traveling on foot. Along the way, many of them were shot and killed by Communist soldiers. We witnessed a bloody massacre of civilians."
From Vue Vang's Life Story:
"Life was so hard in the [Thai refugee] camp that when we found out we could go to the United States, we did not hesitate to grasp the chance. We knew that were we to remain in the camp, there would be no hope for a better future. We would not be able to offer our children anything better than a life of perpetual poverty and anguish."
Jessica Hagedorn is a performance artist, poet, novelist and playwright, born and raised in the Philippines. Her novels include Dogeaters (Penguin 1990) which was nominated for a National Book Award and The Gangster of Love (Penguin 1996); a short story collection, Danger and Beauty (City Lights 2002).
Out of those ordeals comes this transfixing book. At its center lies the relationship between Bizot and his principal captor, a man named Douch, who is today known as the most notorious of the Khmer Rouge’s torturers but who, for a while, was Bizot’s protector and friend. Written with the immediacy of a great novel, unsparing in its understanding of evil, The Gate manages to be at once wrenching and redemptive.
Moving Mountains presents the work of anthropologists, geographers, and political economists who have first-hand experience in the Southeast Asian Massif. Although scholars have typically represented highland people from this region as marginalized and powerless, these case studies � on groups such as the Drung in Yunnan, the Khmu in Laos, and the Hmong in Vietnam � argue that ethnic minorities draw on culture and ethnicity to indigenize modernity and maintain their livelihoods. This unprecedented glimpse into a poorly understood region shows that development initiatives must be built on strong knowledge of local cultures in order to have lasting effect.
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, these days, largely ignored.
Yet 370 years ago, Run's harvest of nutmeg (a pound of which yielded a 3,200 percent profit by the time it arrived in England) turned it into the most lucrative of the Spice Islands, precipitating a battle between the all-powerful Dutch East India Company and the British Crown. The outcome of the fighting was one of the most spectacular deals in history: Britain ceded Run to Holland but in return was given Manhattan. This led not only to the birth of New York but also to the beginning of the British Empire.
Such a deal was due to the persistence of one man. Nathaniel Courthope and his small band of adventurers were sent to Run in October 1616, and for four years held off the massive Dutch navy. Nathaniel's Nutmeg centers on the remarkable showdown between Courthope and the Dutch Governor General Jan Coen, and the brutal fate of the mariners racing to Run--and the other corners of the globe--to reap the huge profits of the spice trade. Written with the flair of a historical sea novel but based on rigorous research, Giles Milton's Nathaniel's Nutmeg is a brilliant adventure story by Giles Milton, a writer who has been hailed as the "new Bruce Chatwin" (Mail on Sunday).