Batavia's Graveyard: The True Story Of The Mad Heretic Who Led History's Bloodiest Mutiny Paperback – 3 Apr 2003
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If you happen to pass Houtman's Abrolhos, the tiny uninhabited archipelago just off Australia's west coast, you'll find out why it's known as Batavia's Graveyard . For there amid the brightly coloured coral, you can still see the sun-bleached bones of the victims of one of the worst civilian maritime massacres. It's not often that the evidence speaks so clearly and yet it's a racing certainty almost no one in Britain had ever heard of the Batavia. As ever when no Brits are involved, we just aren't that interested. But this could all change with Batavia's Graveyard. Mike Dash had a surprise bestseller in 1999 with Tulipomania, the story of the fascination with the tulip in seventeenth century Holland, and Batavia's Graveyard is another slice of Dutch history from the same period.
In 1628, the Batavia, the newest ship in the Dutch East India Company's fleet set sail on its maiden voyage to Java, with its hold crammed full with gold, silver and precious stones. Also on board was a man called Jeronimus Cornelisz, a member of the extreme Protestant sect, the Mennonites, and a dangerous psychotic with it. Cornelisz orchestrated a mutiny on board, but before his plans could be carried out the boat came to grief on Houtman's Abrolhos. And there the fun and games started. The Batavia's captain, Francisco Pelsaert, having got wind of the mutiny, headed off to get help in the only open boat, leaving the survivors to fend for themselves. Which is where Cornelisz steps in; realising that if he wants to remain undiscovered he will need to first kill all the survivors who weren't part of the mutiny before taking out the rescue party on its arrival, he splits the survivors into two groups. The strongest are sent to live on a nearby atoll where Cornelisz anticipates they will starve to death. Then the killing begins. The denouement, when it comes, is too perfectly timed even for Hollywood. It may be X-rated, but this really is the sort of story you just couldn't make up.--John Crace --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Good reviews are now coming in for this wonderful narrative: "Dash evokes the Dutch East Indiamen's institutional avarice and brutality particularly well, along with the cheapness of life on voyages lasting several years, and the type of person they subsequently attracted... Dash's version of their hair-raising tale sensibly eschews hysterical romanticism in favour of a springy, understated narrative that lets the horror speak for itself... Awfully good butnot for the fainthearted."SUNDAY TIMES "The details are gruesome but the stor --Sunday TimesSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The story of the Batavia fired the public imagination for many years after the event, and has over time fallen from memory. Mike Dash has brought the story to life again.
Some reviewers found the close look at the political, religious and family lives of those concerned in the disaster as a little too much information, but I feel this is what made this book. Looking into the background of crew members, servants and families makes this a human story. The reader is made to understand the circumstances not only of the time, but also the intimate lives of the people involved. As an amateur genealogist I revel in all this kind of stuff (it's really quite difficult to piece together the true life of someone long dead) and I found the story from beginning to sad end, truly fascinating.
Dash has really done some excellent work here (he gives appropriate nods to other writers who have also written on the subject) but I think he goes the extra mile to portray life at sea, the fate of the passengers and gives some interesting facts along the way. I especially liked the explanations of the term 'Keel Hauling' (which I have heard and understood to be getting a good telling off) which is a cruel punishment meted out at sea and also some other traditions (peculiar to the Dutch I believe, in this era) where a mans hands are cut off (or just one if the offense is not as bad as a two hand removal) before hanging!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A truly marvellous service, of re-cycling as-new books, of excellent quality, and astoundingly low prices!Published 4 months ago by James McGrory
What a great book. The book is well written and the story is told in a brilliant fashion. Mike Dash has done an awesome amount of research which makes the book exciting to read as... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Ned Jericho
It is an over-long account of this horrific event. Everyone with an interest in the European commerce and exploration of the Far East needs to know and understand this tragedy but... Read morePublished 5 months ago by John Bugg
resting from the early history of exploration and of sailing conditions in the early 1600sPublished 5 months ago by NW
Great book, a history lesson, but also very disturbing tale how desperate men are led or bullied or rewarded into comiting some awful murders, by a clever overpowering nutjob,... Read morePublished 10 months ago by chris