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Batavia's Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History's Bloodiest Mutiny

Batavia's Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History's Bloodiest Mutiny

Written by Mike Dash

Narrated by Guy Bethell


Batavia's Graveyard: The True Story of the Mad Heretic Who Led History's Bloodiest Mutiny

Written by Mike Dash

Narrated by Guy Bethell

ratings:
4.5/5 (12 ratings)
Length:
12 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Nov 29, 2016
ISBN:
9781515983194
Format:
Audiobook

Description

It was the autumn of 1628, and the Batavia, the Dutch East India Company's flagship, was loaded with a king's ransom in gold, silver, and gems for her maiden voyage to Java. The Batavia was the pride of the Company's fleet, a tangible symbol of the world's richest and most powerful commercial monopoly. She set sail with great fanfare, but the Batavia and her gold would never reach Java, for the Company had also sent along a new employee, Jeronimus Corneliszoon, a bankrupt and disgraced man who possessed disarming charisma and dangerously heretical ideas.



With the help of a few disgruntled sailors, Jeronimus soon sparked a mutiny that seemed certain to succeed-but for one unplanned event: In the dark morning hours of June 3, the Batavia smashed through a coral reef and ran aground on a small chain of islands near Australia. The commander of the ship and the skipper evaded the mutineers by escaping in a tiny lifeboat and setting a course for Java to summon help. Nearly all of the passengers survived the wreck and found themselves trapped on a bleak coral island without water, food, or shelter. Leaderless, unarmed, and unaware of Jeronimus's treachery, they were at the mercy of the mutineers.
Publisher:
Released:
Nov 29, 2016
ISBN:
9781515983194
Format:
Audiobook


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4.5
12 ratings / 15 Reviews
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  • (5/5)
    Boeiend geschreven. Soms wat saai, maar gortdroge opsommingen ontbreken. Veel noten en andere zaken. Goed om wat te lezen over de Batavia. Geen roman, toch goed te lezen
  • (5/5)
    If you are planning on reading this, let me give you a heads up. What's between the covers of this book is NOT for the squeamish...I thought the story of the wreck of the Essex was bad but this takes the cake.Batavia's Graveyard was the name given to a small island off the western coast of Australia, now known as Beacon Island. I first became aware of this story, which is true, through a wonderful program on the History Channel about recent finds on that island by archaeologists hoping to solve some of the mysteries of what exactly happened there in 1629 and the years during which the islanders, survivors of the shipwreck of the Batavia, were literally being held captive by a group of mutineers under the command/control of one single psychopathic individual. This book most definitely measures up to my rigorous standards for reading history. It is excruciatingly well documented (this author has notes & sources for every little detail).Synopsis:In June, 1629, a ship filled with goods, money & jewels on its way to Java (the ship belongs to the Dutch EIC) is wrecked on a reef on an uninhabited island. To his credit, the captain managed to get all of the civilians traveling on the ship off of the ship and onto the island; there were in all about 250 survivors. He left them under the charge of one Jeronimus Cornelisz, certified nutcase who believed that anything a person did, including the taking of life, was sanctioned by God. The group divided itself onto three small islands all closely linked. What happens under his "leadership" was an outright tragedy and massacre. I won't go into specifics, but suffice it to say the Cornelisz and the gang that followed him reminded me a lot of Kurtz in Heart of Darkness. I've even seen this book called the Lord of the Flies for Adults...it wasn't that bad, but it was close.Throughout the story, the narrative of events on the islands is interspersed with details of history of the EIC; of the spice trade in general; of the process of shipbuilding in the Netherlands; of Java; pretty much anything at all connected with the story historically is brought up in here. Some parts I found to be a bit dull, but only because I'm not really interested in the history of shipbuilding. However, there's enough to keep you focused and indeed riveted when he gets around to the events on the islands and their aftermath.I would definitely recommend this book to those who are interested in shipwrecks or maritime history. Read this book slowly (or skim through the stuff you don't really like but savor the rest), because there is a wealth of information here. The author is thorough and the writing is good.
  • (5/5)
    With the chance that the upcoming game on the East India Company doesn't suck, I thought I'd read up on the subject. This book is the true story (as best as it could be pieced together from records) of the 1629 wreck of the merchant ship Batavia off the coast of Australia while on it's maiden voyage from the Dutch United Provinces. I would not be surprised that Golding got some of his ideas for [i]Lord of the Flies[/i] from this story. During the long passage (which could easily take more than a year), the head merchant of the company (top authority in the fleet) did not get along with the Batavia's captain. The under-merchant, a heretical apothecary fleeing from a failed business and poor choice of associates, fomented mutiny along with the ship's captain. When the ship unexpectedly wrecked on some uncharted reefs, the vessel's longboat, along with the upper-merchant and captain departed for a Dutch port on Java to bring help. Approximately 150 people, ranging from artisans to soldiers to women and children were left to fend for themselves as best they could on the barren archipelago. Kept alive by rain water, birds and seals, the survivors eked out a meager existence. However, the mutiny was to proceed. The under-merchant decided they would capture the rescue ship when it came, and the only way that would be practical is if a majority of survivors was with him. Since the mutineers were heavily outnumbered, some re-balancing was necessary. First, he managed to ship off two groups onto other islands, where they were abandon, ostensibly to search for sources of water. When one group was surprisingly successful and sent up the signal, the desperate members of the second group created a makeshift raft and attempted to travel to that island. The under-merchant, who was in the process of consolidating is power, sent a group of thugs to commandeer the raft and eliminate those on board. This happened in sight of everyone on both islands, his hand was tipped, and the reign of terror was begun.First, the sick and injured were murdered under the pretext they were costing valuable resources and bringing nothing back in return. The blood lust then started claiming the lives of those who refused to sign a pact agreeing to be a mutineer. Then children and other unskilled or redundant people were murdered. The priest lost his wife and five children in a single bloody rampage as the under-merchant's men started slaughtering people for sport. However, the time came when they felt they had to deal with the folks on the other island...many which were soldiers and sailors, and while stranded unarmed, they proved resourceful and not only repulsed the attacks, but eventually captured the under-merchant as he attempted a parlay. During the final assault, the rescue ship led by the upper-merchant appeared; and in the coming weeks, justice was meted out to the lions share of mutineers. Most of the worst were executed on one of the islands, two were abandon on the west coast of Australia (which was terra incognito in those days). The final death toll was given as 124. The book also has some good information on the inner-workings of the Dutch East India Company. 1 in 50 ships were lost on the outbound voyage, 1 in 20 inbound. Conditions on ship were so bad that even on a new ship, disease ran rampant and 10% of the crew and passengers would die en route (in some cases, more than 50%, at worst not enough were left alive to sail the ship). The Spice Island ports were no paradise either, life expectancy was short, particularly for white foreigners with no natural immunity to the local cooties. There were fortunes to be made for sure, although the rank and file rarely ever saw it, unless they dealt illicitly on the side (and corruption was rampant). Mike Dash does a remarkable job piecing together the story from the facts, although the fate of many of the survivors went undocumented.
  • (4/5)
    Ever wondered what would happen if a ship was wrecked in the middle of the ocean, the survivors abandoned on a barren rock, and a leader stepped forward that had secret and very unconventional religious beliefs? No?To be honest neither had I. But this is exactly what happened to the crew and passengers of the Dutch ship Batavia in 1629 just off the Australian coast. With the ship stricken and the captain and senior crew gone for help, the remaining survivors are shepherded onto an outcrop of coral rock, with no food or fresh water. Jeronimus Cornelisz (an apothecary) is amongst these refugees and soon begins to take control. While many people of this time were God fearing, Cornelisz proved the exception to the rule. Preferring to follow his own twisted branch of religion he felt that a man could be absolved of any wickedness on earth as surely all our actions are controlled through a higher power. This warped view leaves us a man with barely a conscience for his acts as displayed in his treatment towards his fellow castaways.I won't go into the events that happened upon Batavia's Graveyard but it really does give an eye opener into life on board a ship in the 17th century. Mike Dash has really done his research here and I am surprised at just how much information he has managed to cram into the book without it turning into an essay. My one and only criticism of the book is that the last quarter is made up of notes that relate to the preceding text. This meant that they were a little disjointed and I didn't really want to read through them. I would have much preferred these to have been included as footnotes on the actual pages they relate to. This way the text would have been far more enriched.
  • (5/5)
    This is a very well-written account of life on board a Dutch East Indianman ship as well as a gruesome mutiny and it's aftermath. Mike Dash has obviously done extensive research and there are so many fascinating details that one really does get a vivid idea of what it must have been like to live in 17C Holland, the perils of sea voyages and the ruthlessness of these criminals and authorities alike. I found it truly a gripping story.
  • (4/5)
    A no-holds-barred account of the chillingly brutal aftermath of a 1628 shipwreck on a reef fifty miles off the coast of what is now known as Australia. Dash explores the nastiness in great detail, and aside from a few speculative leaps at various points, this makes for riveting reading.My one quibble is that the (very) extensive notes are not indicated in the text.
  • (5/5)
    Wow... what an amazing story! Mike Dash's "Batavia's Graveyard" tells the story of the Batavia, a ship that was dashed on a coral reef near Australia in 1629. More than 200 survivors climbed onto a nearby island with limited supplies. Their leader, Jeronimus and a band of mutineers, set about systematically murdering some 115 of these survivors-- at first to keep the supplies to themselves and later to hide their crimes.The story is absolutely fascinating and while Dash uses a great deal of conjecture to fill in the gaps between the scanty details, he does so effectively. It takes a good long while to get to the meat of the story, as he takes a lot of time talking about the history of the Dutch East India Company and conditions in Holland, yet most of the material is so interesting I really didn't mind the delay.An utterly fascinating and well-written book.
  • (5/5)
    This is a first rate historical book. Mike Dash has done a wonderful job of writing about a dreadful into the evil of man, in such a way that makes it readable. It is straightforward and unapologetic. "Batavia's Graveyard" accounts the action taken by the people who were shipped wrecked in truly desperate conditions, and explains how certain flaws in personalities can feed off each other. This is not a book for the faint of heart, because it is a story about mass killing, committed in most violent means contrived.
  • (4/5)
    If I ever wonder what life was like on a seventeenth century ship bound for the Far East, then this is the book to consult. Serious history, but written to be read instead of consulted, Batavia's Graveyard makes a time, a place and a cast of characters come alive off the page. The story, as it unfolds, becomes harrowing and somewhat depressing, as a community of shipwrecked survivors descend into a true life "Lord of the Flies". It's also a gripping narrative, and could as easily slot into a "True Crime" tagging as an "Historical" one. I often feel let down by historical accounts that promise to read like a best-selling thriller, but this book really does, serving both to educate and entertain as you plough through it.
  • (5/5)
    Reads like a very creepy novel, only this all really happened. Horrific and fascinating.
  • (5/5)
    I'd never heard of the Batavia before and stumbled on this book's many high reviews and gave it a try. Wow what an amazing story, I couldn't put it down. A true classic from the Age of Sail, if you like mutiny, debauchery and lunacy, sort of like The Raft of the Medusa + Treasure Island. Appropriately for the time Dash focuses on the grotesque. 1629 was a brutal time in European history, during the Thirty Years War, the worse war in European history prior to WWI, and the book is useful in imagining the types of ordinary people involved in that conflict - mercenary, uncertain loyalties to god, king or state, torn by religion, desperate souls on the margins of life and death. We read about the period with a sense of horror, glad to not to have lived through it, but it was these violent fractures and mistakes that birthed the modern world we have inherited.
  • (4/5)
    Fascinating true account of the mutiny, shipwreck on what is now known as Beacon Island near Australia and subsequent blood-filled killings. This involved a Dutch East India [VOC] ship Batavia on its way to Java in the 17th century. The mutiny was led by a half-crazed charismatic ship's officer with horrendous results. Conditions on shipboard as described were terrible. The epilogue described present-day archeological expeditions, that found the results. The author researched very well, with both primary and secondary material. Highly recommended but the reader should have a strong stomach.
  • (4/5)
    A fascinating account of naval disaster and the mutiny that followed. I am a fan of history, even dry history, but this is not one of those books.this is a history book for those who perhaps aren't so into history for history's sake. Dash does a great job of drawing the reader into the world of the Dutch East Indian Trade Company and the life of traveling on the huge trade ships. He uses meticulous research to paint a captivating narrative. As a history buff I enjoyed the copious end notes and the fact that Dash is to hold back his imagination and base his assumptions on hard facts. My favorite part of this book was the epilogue and its focus on Australian native/ marooned Dutch relations and the possibilities that lie there. Overall, a great book that makes this period of history fascinating.
  • (4/5)
    A real life Lord of the Flies. The shipwrecked passengers and crew of a Dutch East India Company live a real life horror epic as the dark leaders bring barbaric rule to the stranded victims. The parallels to Lord of the Flies are profound, except that these were adults. No excuses about the descent into evil being the result of youthful anarchy here. What a story.You need to be aware that a great deal of this telling is conjecture. It isn't as if predators or prey left comprehensive as it happened journals. But there is more than enough primary source information to make this too real to be fiction.
  • (5/5)
    "We have just come out of such a sorrow that the mind is still a little confused." -- Gijsbert Bastiaensz

    *****

    Commerce.

    Psychopaths.

    What do the two have in common?

    If I were asked that before I read this book, I’d be glib and respond with something like “trajectory.” But no. I’ve learned it’s something called antinomianism.

    If you don’t know what that means, don’t get discouraged. I didn’t either. Not right away, at least. Oh, I’m sure I’d read it before somewhere, probably years ago when I was knee-deep in Karen Armstrong and had a more particular interest in the monotheistic religions that have informed civilizations for thousands of years. But, as the irreligious say, I’ve slept since then.

    Before I get to antinomianism, though, let me tell you a story. When I was a kid, I knew this other kid. We shall call him Sicko, so as to preserve his anonymity. Sicko was the first person my age I met upon moving to a new town. With adolescence looming, I was overjoyed to find myself just a few houses away from a fellow pre-teen traveler. But it soon dawned on me that age, gender and geography were poor rationales for friendship -- the two of us were completely different. I was an awkward and shy kid, but nevertheless independent, an only child who had just the year before lived in a single-parent home in Los Angeles County; contrariwise, Sicko was athletic and confident, yet oddly deferential, having been home schooled and subjected his entire life to a severely patrician Christian orthodoxy.

    When my family moved again, this time within the town, Sicko and I lost touch. It wouldn't be until we were both nineteen that we found ourselves in the same social circles. By this time, Sicko's family had moved to Alaska, leaving him the solitary occupant of their 2400 square foot home. He extended an invitation to me to roommate with him and I quickly accepted. Over the next few months, I saw firsthand how manipulative and slyly sadistic he had become. Especially toward women. Sicko was a handsome guy, much more handsome than me, and there were young women at the house on various occasions. Most, however, never visited more than once. Then one night I had to rescue one of those young women from Sicko when she called out my name in distress. Soon after this incident, I moved out. I wouldn't see Sicko again for several years, whereupon I learned that he worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative, had married into a fairly prominent banking family and had developed a taste for bestiality films.

    What's that saying about water seeking its own level?

    Anyway, antinomianism. It is defined by wikipedia.org as "belief originating in Christian theology that faith alone, not obedience to religious law, is necessary for salvation." Jernonimus Cornelisz, the fellow at the center of this story of bloody mutiny, took this to mean that he wasn't bound by the same laws as other homo sapiens. He aspired to a life of piracy and manipulated several people into committing all manner of atrocity, the most chilling being the hanging of an infant. Then he was butchered and himself hanged.

    I give this book five stars because it is meticulously researched, very well-written, and because I will remember the name Batavia for the rest of my life.

    If you'd like to read more about the actual mutiny itself, the information available on Wikipedia is not contradicted by the book.