From Library Journal
The spice trade of Southeast Asia was hotly contested among European powers between the 16th and 19th centuries and was at the heart of the early colonization competition among them. Centering first on the cloves, nutmeg, and mace of the Moluccas, it rapidly expanded to other spices grown throughout the region. Corn, an American travel writer, has assembled a remarkably seamless narrative of the trade, stringing together Portuguese, Dutch, British, and, finally, American efforts. Especially well done is the final section describing the pepper trade that flourished briefly between the island of Sumatra and Salem, Massachusetts. Much is published about our trade problems with Asia today; this book provides some needed historical perspective to show that it was never an easy matter. The result will appeal to both history buffs and armchair travelers, and Corn's "notes and sources" will please area specialists.?Harold Otness, Southern Oregon Univ. Lib., Ashland
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
For those for whom the Spice Islands conjure romantic visions of South Seas paradise, intrigue, and piracy, this book will not be a letdown. Covering the age of exploration, it is an informal history of the European invasion and the islanders' futile resistance, ending with the U.S. presence in the islands in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Corn (Distant Islands: Travels across Indonesia
, 1991) takes the reader from the founding of Malacca by Sumatran refugees right through the successive waves of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and English invasions (the first English colony in the world, on the tiny island of Pulau Run, gave them a presence in the area, which they relinquished in 1667 at the Peace of Breda in exchange for Manhattan). Corn details the roles of such figures as Magellan, Francis Xavier, the infamous Jan Pieterszoon Coen, and Francis Drake. But this book is more than a chronicle of voyages and invasions as Corn endeavors to show how the spice trade was the catalyst of the expanding world economy, the bridge between feudalism and capitalism. Frank Caso