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Description: Filled with anecdotes and fascinating information, "a spicy read indeed." (Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed the World ) The perfect companion to Mark Kurlansky's Salt: A World History, Pepper illuminates the rich history of pepper for a popular audience. Vivid and entertaining, it describes the part pepper played in bringing the Europeans, and later the Americans, to Asia and details the fascinating encounters they had there. As Mark Pendergrast, author of Uncommon Grounds, said, "After reading Marjorie Shaffer's Pepper, you'll reconsider the significance of that grinder or shaker on your dining room table. The pursuit of this wizened berry with the bite changed history in ways you've never dreamed, involving extraordinary voyages, international trade, exotic locales, exploitation, brutality, disease, extinctions, and rebellions, and featuring a set of remarkable characters."From the abundance of wildlife on the islands of the Indian Ocean, which the Europeans used as stepping stones to India and the East Indies, to colorful accounts of the sultan of Banda Aceh entertaining his European visitors with great banquets and elephant fights, this fascinating book reveals the often surprising story behind one of mankind's most common spices."This is more than the story of a spice. It's a compelling, elegantly written narrative of exploration and commerce . . . Get ready for a sweeping ride through history."-David Oshinsky, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Polio"Pepper was once as critical a commodity as oil. By telling the story of the pepper trade, Marjorie Shaffer weaves a delightful history of the Indian Ocean and the South Seas."-Robert D. Kaplan, author of Monsoon"Thoroughly researched and easily readable. Now you know that the condiment you thoughtlessly take in every day is a true historical force."-Wolfgang Schivelbusch, author of Tastes of Paradise