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Batavia's Graveyard

Mike Dash



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01 February 2003
History; General & world history; Early modern history: c 1450 to c 1700; Maritime history; Mutiny
When the Dutch East Indian Batavia struck an uncharted reef off the new continent of Australia on her maiden voyage in 1629, 332 men, women and children were on board. While some headed off in a lifeboat to seek help, 250 of the survivors ended up on a tiny coral island less than half a mile long. A band of mutineers, whose motives were almost beyond comprehension, then started on a cold-blooded killing spree, leaving less than 80 people alive when the rescue boat arrived 3 months later Batavia's Graveyard tells this strange story as a gripping narrative structured around 3 strong principal characters: Francisco Pelsaert, the cultivated but weak-willed captain; Jeronimus Cornelisz, a sinister apothecary with a terrifying personal philosophy influenced by Rosicrucianism who set himself up as the ruler of the island; and Wiebbe Hayes, the only survivor with the courage to fight Jeronimus' band. The background to these events, including the story of the Dutch East India Company, and the discovery of Australia, is richly and vividly drawn.
By:   Mike Dash
Imprint:   Phoenix
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 196mm,  Width: 132mm,  Spine: 31mm
Weight:   326g
ISBN:   9780753816844
ISBN 10:   0753816849
Pages:   416
Publication Date:   01 February 2003
Recommended Age:   From 16 To 99
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Mike Dash read history at Cambridge and received his PhD from the University of London. Having worked for the Fortean Times and The Ministry of Sound, he is now setting up his own company.

Reviews for Batavia's Graveyard

In 1628 a fleet of ships owned by the Dutch East India Company set sail for Java. Among their number was the Batavia, a large new ship laden with gold, silver and gems. Ostensibly she was under the command of an experienced merchant named Francisco Pelsaert; she also carried an under-merchant, the untried, untested Jeronimus Cornelisz. Unfortunately this man was not only a disgraced bankrupt - he was a heretic and troublemaker. Cornelisz was already fermenting mutiny within a group of discontented sailors when disaster struck the Batavia. In the early hours of June 4 - after 211 days at sea - the ship impaled itself on a barely submerged coral reef at the edge of an unexplored archipelago off the west coast of Australia. Amidst appalling storms, over 200 survivors were transferred to the relative safety of the islands and there they remained, while Pelsaert took the only boat and headed for Java. Left alone, with little chance of rescue, dwindling food sources and almost no water supplies, the survivors were in chaos. It was a situation that Cornelisz was happy to take advantage of and, with the help of an elite group of loyal supporters, he seized control. So began a killing spree that led to the bloody murder of most of the Batavia survivors. Painstakingly researched and told in compelling detail, this is the true story of what happened. Mike Dash is convinced that, aside from being a heretic and a mutineer, Cornelisz was also a psychopath. Away from the moral and legal constraints of an organized society he allowed his bloodlust to take control. This is a truly horrifying and gripping account that grabs the reader's attention from the very first sentence and keeps it right to the end. (Kirkus UK)

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