Book Beginnings on Friday

This morning I finished reading Faulks on Fiction by Sebastian Faulks, a book I’ve been reading slowly for a few weeks (my review coming soon). It’s time to choose another non-fiction book to take its place. It’s got to be a book I can read in small bites and not lose the thread, maybe a biography/autobiography, or a diary, collection of letters, or a history book.

I’ve looked at a few and have decided on this one:

The half-timbered mansion disappeared long ago, and the paved thoroughfare lies buried beneath the dust of centuries. The Great Fire tore the heart out of this corner of Elizabethan London, devouring books, buildings and streets. One of the few things that survived is a small and insignificant-looking map – crinkled, faded, but still bearing the proud name of its owner. (page 1)

This is the beginning of Giles Milton’s about the first English settlement in the New World in the sixteenth century. It’s Big Chief Elizabeth: how England’s Adventurers gambled and won the New World. I’ve read his earlier book Nathaniel’s Nutmeg, which is a fascinating tale of the ‘competition between England and Holland for possession of the spice- producing islands of South-East Asia throughout the 17th century.’

I like the beginning of Big Chief Elizabeth, which within a few words captures the mystery and appeal of history for me. I’m looking forward to discovering more about the map and its owner.

Blurb from the back cover:

Big Chief Elizabeth has it all: gallant English seadogs, coiffured courtiers, exotic locations and lots of fights with pirates, Spaniards and Indians. (Sunday Telegraph)

Plus I’m interested to read Giles Milton’s newest book, Wolfram: the Boy who Went to War.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages.