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Publisher's Summary

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

What listeners say about Batavia

Average Customer Ratings
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    4 out of 5 stars
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Moving.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

Apart from the historical significance and actually having visited the Abrolhos Islands more than once, the characters were brought to life by superb narration.

Which character – as performed by Richard Aspel – was your favorite?

Pelesart

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, but impossible.

6 people found this helpful

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Great Australian History

What did you love best about Batavia?

It was unbelievable! However it was true! This story just proves that fact is stranger than fiction.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The Dutch soldier who rescued many of the passengers and crew from the depravity of Jeronemus and the mutineers.

Which scene was your favorite?

The description of the executions of the mutineers including the summing up in the epilogue. Justice was crude and rough in the 17th century!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was amazed by the events that took place.

6 people found this helpful

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Disaster, Mutiny, Murder, Survival

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.

6 people found this helpful

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Wow! What a story.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, One of the best stories I've ever heard.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

What about Richard Aspel’s performance did you like?

Great reader. Ability to pronounce Dutch terms and names added greatly to the listen.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The treatment of the women.

Any additional comments?

I highly recommend. If you like true adventure, this book has it all. I've read most, and this is the best.

6 people found this helpful

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History brought to life with excitement and grief

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.

5 people found this helpful

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Real life Lord Of The Flies circa 1620s

What an amazing story. Narrated very well by Richard Aspel.
If you like historical true crime and or maritime history this is the book for you.
A stunning and horrible tale.

2 people found this helpful

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Great

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.

2 people found this helpful

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A fine researched book and read perfectly

What did you love best about Batavia?

The history, the visionary its a well written and describe story

What was one of the most memorable moments of Batavia?

Still working through this, and I am hooked

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

Any additional comments?

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

2 people found this helpful

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Partly fiction

The structure and narration of the story are excellent and relatively easy to follow. I expected a historical record of events but the story has too strong feel of fiction. The author colors certain characters too strongly, especially the predikant and Lucretia. The nightmarish events on the graveyard island were like from a terrorist camp and were not so nice to follow because of all the cruelty and lunacy. Reading Mike Dash's book Batavia's Graveyard should provide a more objective view of the events.

1 person found this helpful

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A must Audible book ! Absolutely nail bitting

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Damian
  • 11-03-19

Painful

Having listened to the 'Bounty' I came into book with not only high hopes, but also I was excited!
What a stupid mistake....
For some stupid, ridiculous reason there is translation plagued throughout this narration. Yes, when physically reading a book this would fine, as you can quickly disregard this when it appears over, and over and over again. Yet, with audiobooks, the listener is no so lucky. Get ready for translation after translation that quickly sails you further and further away from the story being narrated. You will get to point where you get basically upset every time you hear the irrelevant translation being shoved down your speaker/headphones. I listened to this in May and it's now November, yet I will not allow myself to go through that disgusting voyage of listening to this again in the current form.
This is such a shame as the story is okay, but it is painful to listen to. Whoever gave the narrator the order to include every single translation into this audiobook should be fired and never be allowed to work in such an industry again.
Redo this book, without the translations every 2 minutes that decimate the dialogue and this book could have potential. I could have narrated this and done a far better job.
If you want to waste your money and want your ears to bleed, then this is the book for you.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Daan Lagas
  • 07-17-20

Pronunciation is below poor

I am dutch and was really looking forward listening to this book. The person who reads it pronounces dutch names places and other things below poor. I had to look up in the actual book what he was saying. Very annoying and ruins listening to it. There is this new phenomenon called Google, you can type in a word with pronounce behind it. Maybe use that and put in a bit of effort next time.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Thomas
  • 07-07-14

Good read (listen) but could be better

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

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

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

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.

What three words best describe Richard Aspel’s performance?

OK,

If this book were a film would you go see it?

Yes

Any additional comments?

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • advil
  • 05-03-21

Grim

Got about halfway through before deciding I didn’t need to spend any more hours with it, clearly things were not about to get better and I already found the misogyny, violence and general sense of impending doom and chaos heavy going, and that’s before the bad stuff happened (I googled the story). There’s no historical perspective in the writing, it’s a straightforward dramatic account which sometimes comes across like the author thinks it all good fun, which it really wasn’t.

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  • Allister
  • 03-29-21

Gratuitous violence and poorly written

This was a terrible episode in Dutch maritime history. I realised this was a”dramatic reconstruction “ of the events which were unimaginably bloodthirsty. However the book is full of unnecessary and gratuitous descriptions of violence. These are sensationalist and gory. There were very many deaths and the author almost relishes describing most of them.
The writing itself is very poor -almost laughable at times. The narration is over dramatic. I’m not a Dutch scholar so can’t comment on the pronunciation of the Dutch parts.
I gave one star only because of the epilogue.
In all one of the worst audiobooks I have ever bought.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-18-20

Poorlywritten and poorly told in a stocatto manner

I Cannot finish this book and it's a great true story. The reasons are 2 fold:
Poorly written and poorly told

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  • Ray
  • 10-27-18

Fantastic listen

One of the best creative non-fiction stories I've listened to on Audible. The writing could be a little better, but the story becomes so utterly compelling, that any criticism I have would ultimately feel unfair as I am very grateful and thankful to the author for bringing to life these incredible and haunting historical events. I found it a little slow until the shipwreck, but it turned out all the context given in those early chapters was absolutely necessary to understand the context of what happened next. Imagine 350 people marooned in the early 1600's on a reef off an unexplored Western Australia, with no water, natural shelter or expectation that anyone would ever know that they were there. With very limited supplies recovered from the wreck and only a small yawl not designed for ocean going conditions that was able only to hold a seventh of their number, they were some 2000 km from the nearest friendly port which lay due north across treacherous seas. If things weren't bad enough, one of their leaders turned out to be a hedonistic and heretical psychopath. What happened in the ensuing months will shock you to your core, the story is absolutely gripping and takes many unexpected turns. I was completely enthralled. I finished the book last week and still feel deeply moved and affected by what happened all those years ago, I've just learned they are still turning up secrets that have lay hidden in the coral sands of that remote archipelago for some four hundred years. If this story was fiction, you probably wouldn't believe it.HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (If you are beguiled by shipwreck stories as I am, check out the audio book Endurance by Alfred Lansing, narrated by the incredible Simon Prebble).

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  • PTW
  • 12-12-17

Ruined

Fantastic historical story, ruined by the author. The author tries to add drama through the characters dialogue, but ends up sounding fake and unbelievable. .

1 person found this helpful

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  • A. V. James
  • 02-27-17

Amazing, completely amazing

If you could sum up Batavia in three words, what would they be?

Impossible to put into three words

Who was your favorite character and why?

There were so many incredible characters. It's a story of hundreds of people all with mind blowing parts to play

What does Richard Aspel bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Seriously he's an excellent narrator. Couldn't ask for better

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Don't ever watch this film. The book could never be made into a film, you'd have to cut too much out. It's like the book, "Unbroken"' one of the most incredible stories ever told. Then Angelina Jolie tries to turn a 30 hour book into a 2 hour movie. Of course 90% has to be left out and people think they know the story. DON'T BOTHER EVEN WATCHING THE MOVIE OF THIS BOOK

Any additional comments?

I can't rate this highly enough. If i could give this 10 stars I'd still feel unsatisfied.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Lauren
  • 07-17-16

incredible story!

This is an incredible story, and a little piece of history that reads exactly as a high drama, thriller fiction. While there are moments when the telling of the particulars is a little repetetive, and the dramatic narrating style is a little overbearing in parts, but nevertheless, it's a story worth hearing.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Karen
  • 02-25-16

Batavia - the worst voice ever

Good story bit long winded but the guy who read it had the most grating voice and it was very difficult to listen to, frankly I couldn't wait to finish so I could get away from that voice. Not worth the credit I spent on it - oh well😞

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jillian Staton
  • 04-26-16

bit overwrought at times but gripping

Amazingly, few people have heard of this tragic and gruesome story. Well researched and well written, although I hated the way the author threw in the odd Dutch word. My advice is to skip the introduction as it goes on forever. Looking forward to listening to Masson.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Tim
  • 05-22-15

Outstanding

an amazing story and as always it is tolf in a very entertaining style by PF.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-09-17

Just wow!!

What a story and how well written. I was so addicted that I was walking around with my earplugs in for 5 days barely speaking to anyone at home !!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Digby Bamford
  • 01-02-19

Character of a man

Great dramatization of the events surrounding the shipwreck of the Batavia. Particularly apt in today's geo-political times where we see the power which individuals can wield to corrupt Otherwise good men.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-08-21

very enjoyable

Really enjoyed the narrator, really enabled book to come alive....my first audible and loved it...very excited for next one. thank you audible...I'm back on the road again. xx

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-18-21

Great Read

Great Read. Thxs for the opportunity. Look forward to another true tale from Peter Fitzsimmons

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-31-21

Amazing story.

A fascinating listen throughout. Amazing piece of history. Highly recommend giving this book a listen!