'A triumph: a first class comprehensive narrative of the impact upon the people of the Indian Ocean of those who penetrated it. It is hard to believe that this account of a European epic has any rival.' J.M. ROBERTS, author of the Penguin History of the World Until Vasco da Gama discovered the sea-route to the East in 1497-9 almost nothing was known in the West of the exotic cultures and wealth of the Indian Ocean and its peoples. It is this civilisation and its destruction at the hands of the West that Richard Hall recreates in this book. Hall's history of the exploration and exploitation - by Chinese and Arab travellers, and by the Portuguese, Dutch and British alike - is one of brutality, betrayal and colonial ambition. It is history told with the true gift of a storyteller and a keen eye for the exotic. It is a compelling and instructive epic.