Jack Turner biography

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Jack Turner
Photo: Helena Fraser

Jack Turner

Jack Turner Biography

Jack Turner was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1968. He received his B.A. in Classical Studies from Melbourne University and his Ph.D. in International Relations from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar and MacArthur Foundation Junior Research Fellow. He wrote his first book Spice, in 2004, in Georgia. He is also the host of the The Science channel, documentary series, What the Ancients Knew. He has worked as a cook, a farmhand, a photographer, and travelled extensively in Britain, Spain, Indochina, South America, Syria, Southern Africa and Australia. He can speak and/or read seven languages. He now lives with his wife, Helena and their children in Geneva, Switzerland



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Interview

Jack Turner compares the 16th century search for spices to the 1950s and '60s space race - find out why and much more in this fascinating interview.

In the preface of your book, you recall a primary school lesson about the role of spices in the "Age of Discovery." Have you always been interested in spices? What inspired you to write a book about their history?
My teacher's remark undoubtedly stuck in the mind, but I'm not sure if there was a single "eureka" moment so much as a gradual snowballing of interest. I have found spices fascinating as far back as I can remember, since the time I was a little kid and my mum prepared marvelous spicy kormas, chutneys and curries (she is a superb cook, so maybe she should take the credit). Spices only became more fascinating as they cropped up all over the place in references I came across at random. At university, where I read Greek and Latin, they appeared in the most unexpected places: a reference to cassia in a poem by Sappho written in the 6th century BC; a Roman poet's sarcastic remarks about pepper. Reading the life of the Venerable Bede I was struck by a reference to pepper in Dark Age England. My early interest was mainly in the logistics of the matter: How on earth did they get it? The decision to pursue the subject further was, I suppose, essentially the culmination of a long-standing interest.

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Books by this Author

Books by Jack Turner at BookBrowse
Spice jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Jack Turner but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Nicholas A. Basbanes

    Nicholas A. Basbanes

    Nicholas A. Basbanes is an award-winning investigative journalist and was literary editor of the Worcester Sunday Telegram. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Spice

    Try:
    On Paper
    by Nicholas A. Basbanes

  • Laurence Bergreen

    Laurence Bergreen

    Michael Richard Beschloss is an American historian. A specialist in the United States presidency, in November 2013, he was appointed as a contributing columnist on history for The New York Times. His "HistorySource" column ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Spice

    Try:
    Over the Edge of the World
    by Laurence Bergreen

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