... characteristic gracefulness ... The main work of The Nutmeg’s Curse is to make visible the long and programmatic history of racial violence at the heart of colonialism as a ‘warfare of a distinctive kind' ... (It’s a shame in a book of such ambitious scope that its references to Australia—where many historians have been writing so astringently in partnership with Indigenous people about the ongoing violence of colonisation, and where Acknowledgement of Country is made routinely at most public events—are perfunctory and, when they do occur, less sure-footed.) Nevertheless, The Nutmeg’s Curse is often dazzling in its synthesis, particularly when linking past to present ... Ghosh’s book is most galvanising when he turns his attention to the Indian Ocean basin as the centre of the Anglosphere’s continuing patterns of exploitation.
The extensively researched book makes for compelling reading, giving new insights into different dimensions of climate change. Ghosh’s penchant for colonisation, combined with his superb storytelling craft, has resulted in a powerful narrative that effortlessly transcends centuries and disciplines. The book brilliantly connects the dots and provides a refreshing perspective on the climate crisis.
... his attention to detail is exemplary ... The first chapter about the Banda Islands and the Dutch East India Company’s involvement is when Ghosh is at his best. No one uses facts and historical research to weave a story as well as he does. You can feel the fear of the inhabitants of the island as an unjust war is waged on them; you can hear the sound of the breaking of the lamp; Ghosh is never better than when he is recreating worlds from his history books ... Ghosh does a brilliant job of connecting...all to the climate crisis in an attempt to highlight how much a part of our lives climate crisis actually is. It has seeped up insidiously into every aspect of our life, without us realising it ... While the book is informative and engaging, It is not fair to say that The Nutmeg’s Curse is an easy read. It challenges you and your ingrained beliefs all the time. Yet, it is written most simply, with the narrative smooth and flowing effortlessly. You are never bored, even when you are shocked at the extent of colonial extermination (for instance) or when you disagree with the writer’s inferences.
... elegant and convincing ... a strange book, but not in a bad way. It is meandering and looping. Sometimes it feels like being thrown into a fast whirling river, and there is no point in trying to hold tight, just go with the flow. The general direction of the current (to stay with the river metaphor) is Ghosh’s argument that colonialism has paved the way for climate change but his eddying narrative throws up stories about Dutch still lifes (inert objects that reflected European ideas of nature), Linnaean nomenclature, modern cities, the Covid pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests, Tennyson and the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, among many others ... None of this is new and sometimes Ghosh states the obvious (climate change is related to the global distribution of power) but it’s the simplicity of his main argument and the power of his storytelling that makes the book work.
Ghosh describes all this in his now familiar lyrical, slightly melancholic, picaresque style. In this gripping read, a tour de force, his words are sharp, avenging, and often find their mark ... Ghosh falls into the familiar but now dated polarised thinking on the social and the natural sciences. Assuming that natural scientists are positivists, that they equate their models with reality, is a common mistake. True, the natural sciences originated with a view to gain mastery over nature, but even anthropology has dubious origins as a knowledge-collecting enterprise to spy for colonial powers ... Ghosh and some in the humanities and social sciences now try to perform the indelicate dance of mistakenly accusing climate scientists and their scientism, but he personally, perhaps condescendingly, admires scientists for their courage!
... [a] stirring call for the arts to tackle the climate crisis. In this intense, energizing, and immensely intelligent work, Ghosh uses the history of the nutmeg tree as his focal point, leading readers through the murderous conduct of the Dutch traders who captured the market for the spice by committing genocide against the people and landscape from which it came ... With literary precision, he delves into the history and culture of conquest, drawing a direct line from actions committed hundreds of years ago to the planet’s current predicament. A singular achievement and a title of its time, The Nutmeg’s Curse reminds us why the land is crying.