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Batavia's Graveyard


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Batavia's Graveyard is to be made into a major FilmFour movie with Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Robocop, Total Recall) to direct 'Utterly absorbing - Treasure Island meets Deliverance' Evening Standard 'A magnificent true-horror story' Sunday Times 'Expertly researched - a rattling good yarn' Independent on Sunday 'In many ways the tale of the Batavia is the most sensational maritime saga of them all. A brilliant book' Frank McLynn Marketing campaign to include poster, national advertising and dumpbin Author to visit Australia to promote the book there Published alongside a reissue of Mike Dash's bestselling book Tulipomania This is narrative non-fiction at its best

About the Author

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, and authored several books including the bestselling Tulipomania, he is now setting up his own company.


Dash (Tulipomania) focuses this research-oriented investigation on the personalities and causes behind the 1629 wreck of the Dutch East India Company's ship Batavia and its disastrous aftermath of mutiny, psychopathic mania, and homicide. The bare outlines of the story recall similar episodes of mutiny and shipwreck (e.g., the Bounty), but Dash, with his access to an impressive array of original documents, produces not only a dramatic account of the disaster but a fascinating portrait of the inner workings of the 17th century's richest and most powerful monopoly. Jeronimus Corneliszoon the "mad heretic" of the subtitle and his bloodthirsty behavior occupy center stage of this work, but through painstaking research Dash vividly brings to life other actors and victims: the skipper, Ariaen Jacobsz; the upper-merchant, Francisco Pelsaert; the leading figures of the East India Company; and a host of senior officers, crew members, distinguished passengers, and soldiers. If there is a weakness in Dash's narrative, it is his tendency to speculate too much on the data he has accumulated. The wealth of pertinent information, however, outweighs this minor annoyance. Recommended for both public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/01.] Robert C. Jones, formerly with Central Missouri State Univ., Warrensburg Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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

Dash's sociology of the paranormal (Borderlands) and of obsession in Holland (Tulipomania) prepared him nicely for this telling of a 17th-century ship loaded with Dutchmen, treasure and fanaticism. In 1629 the Batavia, a 160-foot merchant ship launched by the Dutch East India Company, was carrying silver to East India when it ran upon coral atolls northwest of Australia and coughed up its passengers. In Dash's account, the survivors 300 passengers and about 50 sociopathic crewmen settled on the tiny island, soon to be called Batavia's Graveyard, and quickly became madhouse models of Dutch social classes. Officers set out in life boats to Java for help, leaving Jeronimus Corneliszoon, a failed apothecary and heretic, in charge; he began terrorizing his own crewmen, then the other marooned passengers. Within two months, 115 of the survivors (including 30 women and children) had murdered each other with swords, pikes, daggers and by drowning (Corneliszoon poisoned an infant that kept him awake). In a narrative reminiscent of Lord of the Flies, Dash describes the creeping sadism that sprang from Holland's religious conflicts, which were channeled through the Jim Jones-like charisma of Corneliszoon. The book is driven by Dash's research (a quarter of the book is notes and appendices, including material from newly discovered records in Holland), but the same attention to detail (e.g., the narrative lists and the psychobiography of Corneliszoon) interrupts the pace. The story of the Batavia incident is already well recorded, and even though Dash has taken it to a new level of grotesque accuracy, his nautical drama never truly comes to life. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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