Spice: The History of Temptation by Jack Turner
In Spice: The History of Temptation, Turner chooses "a more intimate, human focus" for his study of spices and their role in history. He posits that:
It is only by viewing spices in terms of [the] complex overlap of desires and distaste that the intensity of the appetite can be adequately accounted for--why, in other words, the discovers [...] found themselves on foreign shores demanding cinnamon and pepper with the cannons and galleons of Christendom at their backs. (xvii)This premise--and Turner's gift for anecdote--results to an informative and endlessly interesting book on the place spice has held in human imagination.
Peppered throughout the text are images (photographs of spice-related museum artifacts, maps, and drawings both botanically accurate and imaginatively fallacious) and quotations mostly from contemporaries of the spice age. Also included is an index and copious endnotes, the former making the text more accessible and the latter attesting to the scholarship behind the book.