The history of the growing popularity of spices from 3000 B.C. to the present day is efficiently covered by the author of The Magic of Rubber. Because of the monotony of their diet during the Dark Ages, men would fight for a few grains of spice to make their food more printable. During the Crusades, Venice, Genoa and Marseilles developed prosperous new economics founded largely on the ever-increasing demand for spices. Gradually new sources of supply were uncovered; Portugal, Holland, England and eventually America began a fierce competition to establish spice routes and control the world's resources. The medicinal uses of certain spices gave the market another boost and research is still continuing apace. The text picks up after a slow start, where facts and figures are ticked off in a curious blend of pedantry and colloquialism, punctuated liberally with exclamation points. Reference value is reduced by inadequate indexing and lack of good trade route maps.