The story begins in 1629, when the pride of the Dutch East India Company, the Batavia, is on its maiden voyage en route from Amsterdam to the Dutch East Indies, laden down with the greatest treasure to leave Holland. The magnificent ship is already boiling over with a mutinous plot that is just about to break into the open when, just off the coast of Western Australia, it strikes an unseen reef in the middle of the night. While Commandeur Francisco Pelsaert decides to take the longboat across 2,000 miles of open sea for help, his second-in-command Jeronimus Cornelisz takes over, quickly deciding that 250 people on a small island is unwieldy for the small number of supplies they have.
Quietly, he puts forward a plan to 40 odd mutineers how they could save themselves, kill most of the rest, and spare only a half-dozen or so women, including his personal fancy, Lucretia Jansz - one of the noted beauties of Holland - to service their sexual needs. A reign of terror begins, countered only by a previously anonymous soldier, Wiebbe Hayes, who begins to gather to him those are prepared to do what it takes to survive....
©2011 Peter FitzSimons (P)2011 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
It was unbelievable! However it was true! This story just proves that fact is stranger than fiction.
The Dutch soldier who rescued many of the passengers and crew from the depravity of Jeronemus and the mutineers.
The description of the executions of the mutineers including the summing up in the epilogue. Justice was crude and rough in the 17th century!
I was amazed by the events that took place.
After being recommended this book by my father-in-law, I was intrigued to hear this stunning tale of disaster. Peter Fitzsimons has crafted a terrific retelling of the ill-fated voyage of the Dutch East India Company's flagship vessel. Eloquently narrated by Aspel, the story seems so fantastic that one cannot deny that truth IS stranger than fiction.
From the telling of the VOC's founding, to the Batavia's journey and subsequent shipwrecking on the Abrolhos Islands, to the murderous tyrannical short-lived island regime of Jeronimus Cornelisz, this tale is both amazing and horrifying.
Every Australian should read of this disaster that took place off the coast of Western Australia. It paints a chilling portrait of just how far power can corrupt those who have naught to fear from the outside world. Murderous executions, sexual slavery, survival and heroism: these are all present in this adventure that many have forgotten or are not even aware of.
Although told in present tense and actual dialogue spoken could be contested, Fitzsimons states this at the beginning of the book. It makes for a vivid story that places the reader there at every chilling moment.
This story once underway is amazing, edge of your seat, can't stop listening stuff. What makes it so riveting is that it is a true story that could be a horror movie in the Hostel series but set in the 1600's.
Peter FitzSimons has filled the gaps in the historical accounts of the Batavia shipwreck in a way that is seamless to the reader / listener and that shows respect to the people who suffered in this tragedy. As he says in the forward he completed a 1000 piece jigsaw with only 500 pieces available to him and made the picture look real.
I am a lover of fiction usually. My dad encouraged me to read this and fortunatly it was in the Audible book store. I am very glad I listened to dad (and the book) on this occasion. It is a part of Australian history that I was ignorant to, even though I have seen the replica of the ship. Presented the way it has been in this story, the history and the horror has been brought to life in a way that is interesting and dare I say, given the nature of the tale, enjoyable. Though if you read this, joy is not an emotion that you will feel, rather horror to read what desperate men can stoop to in the absence of law.
The build up and character backgrounds make it start a little slow, but you do need this, so hang in there and discover the history of the Dutch East India company, the spice trade and the Batavia.
Yes, One of the best stories I've ever heard.
It's a true story that just keeps getting better through the listen. If you read, be sure to view the location on Google Earth. You can still see where the ship hit 400 years later.
Great reader. Ability to pronounce Dutch terms and names added greatly to the listen.
The treatment of the women.
I highly recommend. If you like true adventure, this book has it all. I've read most, and this is the best.
I work in IT, I love reading, I love Writing and for those daily travels too and fro I love to listen to Audible books too
The history, the visionary its a well written and describe story
Still working through this, and I am hooked
Not laugh or cry but the history, a history which even Mr. Fitzsimmons admits is a story very little known in Australia, but should be.
I will certainly be listening to other Peter Fitzsimmons books if they are all as well researched and read as this one. What history, what a great listen. You can almost hear the history develop
I heard Peter Fitzsimons on an interview about this book. I purchased it and heard it over a single weekend ! Even if you are not interested in this time in history you will absolutely love this book. I could not recommend this any more even if I tried. Peter has combined real events and his flare to bring together events that you would think were all fantasy or a Hollywood movie. Purchased this book and you will not regret it.
Yes. A great story tinged with all the emotions. Highs and very lows and knowing that the events actually occurred give the story an added edge. Highly recommended.
Apart from the historical significance and actually having visited the Abrolhos Islands more than once, the characters were brought to life by superb narration.
Yes, but impossible.
Give me a spy novel, mystery, history, and a little science and I'm totally happy
I couldn't put it down. May have been a bit gruesome at times, but that didn't slow me down. Both the story and narration were the best. It was hard to believe that it was true.
In the top 5
The story is absolutely incredible; and the fact that it was true is far beyond any plot I could have imagined. There are many lessons to be taken from this story from individuals, to leadership, corporations, greed, nation building, evil and the indomitable human spirit. I will recommend this to all of my friends.
Academic and author of books on 19th-20th century history & literature.
The amazing, tragic story of the Batavia (Dutch East Indiaman) wreck and its appalling aftermath in the 17th century off the WA coast has been told in several books, but never better than here.
I've read several of the books on these events, but this is by far the liveliest, because of Fitzsimmons' ability to imaginatively reconstruct a credible account from the original sources.
At first I thought his voice was too 'light' for such a serious, tragic subject, but I grew to like it a lot. He did a great job with the jaw-cracking Dutch names, terms and titles. He describes all the gory details with relish.
I thought the gradual descent into the sadistic butchery of the survivors was brilliantly handled. It reminded me much of Milgram's experiments into authority and obedience.
I thought this was a spell-binder. A necessarily show start (how the spice trade was organised, etc) but after that totally gripping.
"Good read (listen) but could be better"
It was an enjoyable listen overall, and I don't regret having purchased this audiobook. It's a great story which is worth getting to know
The best aspect is the historical nature of the story - it transports you back to a time of exploration when life was a lot harder and there were new lands to be discovered but it's also very gritty. The style of retelling a historical even as a novel is always (well maybe not always, but mostly) enjoyable. The least interesting is that it doesn't go quite far enough in the novel-isation of the story - it's a bit of a half-way house, not quite history, not quite story.
The insistence of throwing in Dutch words when not necessary is a little annoying - it doesn't really add anything.
Overall a great story but the retelling (both by the author and reader) are good but not great.
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