A History of Water is a riddling title but the subtitle, Being an Account of a Murder, an Epic and Two Visions of Global History, points towards its rich cultural and historical context.
Edward Wilson-Lee is a Cambridge academic who specialises in making big stories out of archival minutiae. His superb new book follows the paths of two men in sixteenth-century Portugal. One, a humane and intellectually curious archivist to the King, was found dead in 1574 after falling foul of the Inquisition. The other was a rogue who become the Portuguese national poet. Beyond its intrigue as a murder investigation, this is a spectacular portrait of the world's expansion during the period, and how the imperial attitudes that resulted might have been otherwise.
Interviewed by John de Falbe
Edited by Magnus Rena
Music: Josquin Des Prez, Sanctus "D'ung aultre amer"