The author of The Great Derangement returns with a new look at climate change and the Anthropocene as the culmination of a history rooted in the centuries-old geopolitical order that was constructed by Western colonialism. This argument is set within a broader narrative about human entanglements with botanical matter—spices, tea, sugarcane, opium and fossil fuels—and the continuities that bind human history with these earthly materials.
... 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.