By James Leslie-Melville

Format: Paperback

(2 customer reviews)

Publication Date: 28 Feb 2023


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Categories: Historical

ISBN: 9781915352682


3,000 BCE, east Mediterranean. A slave digs a silver nugget out of the ground at an Anatolian mine, launching it on a journey through the ages to the present day. Crisscrossing the globe, travelling into space and plunging to the seabed, it features in a series of world-changing historical events.

 Over fifteen chapters it falls into the hands of Alexander the Great, Judas Iscariot, Attila the Hun, William the Conqueror, Ferdinand Magellan, Marie Antoinette, Adolf Hitler and many more. As such, it witnesses human endeavour in all its moods, from exploration to invention, from creation to devastation, from triumph to despair.

Argentum is a light-hearted canter through the last 5,000 years, combining the adventures of the silver piece with some of the key characters and moments in world history, and revealing along the way the extraordinary adaptability of element 47.

So where is it now?


James Leslie-Melville runs his own business providing advisory services to small companies, after a thirty-year career in banking/industry and a Cambridge University law degree. He has a keen interest in the sweep of history through the ages, and the lesser-known stories of the central characters that have helped to shape it. Married with three adult children, he lives in Fife, Scotland. Argentum is his debut novel.


David Cathie (Guest Review) - 18 Apr, 2023

I enjoyed this book very much. Pacy, engaging & populated (mostly) by well known characters it felt like a veritable smorgasbord of huge historical times & events all cleverly linked by a little nugget of precious metal.

An excellent debut novel.

Helen Welsh (Guest Review) - 28 Feb, 2023

This is a fascinating book, with a hugely enjoyable sweep through history. I especially enjoyed the chapter on Marie Antoinette, which offers unusually vivid details on this character, who is usually swept aside in a trite account of bread and cake. Leslie-Melville describes the Paris crowds in the streets as disappointed that it was she and not the playwright Voltaire who arrives by carriage. I learned about Voltaire nearly 50 years ago and I wish I'd had some of these insights back then!
There is a breadth of historic knowledge evident in this book, and the author helpfully offers a historic note at the end of each chapter, explaining what is known as fact and what he has inferred.
The cover of the book is itself beautiful and serves as an alluring introduction to an absorbing read.

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