I was born in Glasgow and raised in Nigeria. Mungo Park was named after Glasgow’s patron saint. Mungo Park set off on his great adventure to reach Nigeria, and accidentally documented the fact that every local king demanded a 10% tax. Curiously, those who were demanded taxes usually paid; Mungo lost 10% of his property at every border crossing, and was soon left destitute; he somehow managed to return to Glasgow where he married and wrote up his travels. On Mungo’s return journey to Africa, he went well-armed and refused to pay the 10% taxes, and he was killed as a result. The first point of this book was thus boldly highlighted, that paying taxes results in genetic survival, whereas violence is a lottery.
As a double mathematician at school, I also understood that that human lottery is not a zero-sum game, that the winners will gain more than all the losers, added together, will lose; that although many of those trying to collect taxes will die, those who succeed and survive will profit enormously. This is only true while the human population is rising, but that has been the case for most of human history.
In the Royal Navy, and on business in the global IT industry, I have travelled much of the world, 52 countries on all continents except Australasia and Antarctica. I have studied the local economy and history of the countries I have visited, and also the history of my own countries, from their foreign point of view. I have been astounded by what different opinions can be held about the same subject, whether it is of a single man, a great battle, or a city. Looked at comparatively, traditional history seemed more a propaganda press release from each side. I took advantage of my frequent travel to question more deeply about history.
I also used my work in sales, marketing and training to study psychology, especially behavioural studies like Transactional Analysis and brain-centred Learning; my love of sports to study human physiology; and technical subjects relating to transport (I had after all been an Officer in the Royal Navy and had studies all the means of propulsion for warships, submarines, helicopters, planes, missiles and shells), agriculture (I am the grandson of Spanish farmers and my first job was working on my uncle’s farm), religion (I was raised a Catholic, and am a descendant of a translator of the Bible and the son of a Third Order Carmelite) and many other subjects which touched on taxation.
It was on holiday in Sardinia that I found the catalyst to start writing this book, which had been gestating in my mind for many years. The discovery that obsidian had been traded widely in the Mediterranean long before any civilisation, industry or other trade existed, sparked off a search for the origin of modern human behaviour.
I still work in IT, still travelling internationally as a businessman, paying taxes, visiting many countries. This year I have added Romania and Bulgaria to my tally of countries, and visited Dracula’s tax castle on the edge of the Wallachian plain and Thracian gold mines which supplied Alexander and Constantine with the money they needed to take over the world. I now live in France, where I have been writing Francophile fiction and factual works, including a play about Joan of Arc, and detective stories about the Le Mans and Paris-Dakar races, and a climbing guide to the Pyrenees, which have been self-published.