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

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From the bestselling author of Tulipomania comes Batavia’s Graveyard, the spellbinding true story of mutiny, shipwreck, murder, and survival.

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—some 1,800 miles north—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.

Jeronimus took control almost immediately, preaching his own twisted version of heresy he’d learned in Holland’s secret Anabaptist societies. More than 100 people died at his command in the months that followed. Before long, an all-out war erupted between the mutineers and a small group of soldiers led by Wiebbe Hayes, the one man brave enough to challenge Jeronimus’s band of butchers.

Unluckily for the mutineers, the Batavia’s commander had raised the alarm in Java, and at the height of the violence the Company’s gunboats sailed over the horizon. Jeronimus and his mutineers would meet an end almost as gruesome as that of the innocents whose blood had run on the small island they called Batavia’s Graveyard.

Impeccably researched and beautifully written, Batavia’s Graveyard is the next classic of narrative nonfiction, the book that secures Mike Dash’s place as one of the finest writers of the genre.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Mike Dash

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Mike Dash is the author of the national bestseller Tulipomania. A journalist and Cambridge-educated historian, he lives in London.From the Hardcover edition.
Published March 5, 2002 by Crown. 512 pages
Genres: History, War. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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(Dash gives as many details as he can find about the ship, including her salvage in the 1960s, and he’s lavish with sidelights in Dutch history as well, such as the fact that among the main customers for spices from the Indies were butchers who used them to mask the smell of rotting meat.) Immedi...

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The New York Times

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He makes much of Corneliszoon's antinomianism, the doctrine that Christians are not bound by the moral law, but the book's hair-raising descriptions of shipboard life in the Dutch East India Company imply something more: that the massacre was not so much a product of a psychopathic leader as it w...

Apr 07 2002 | Read Full Review of Batavia's Graveyard: The True...

Publishers Weekly

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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.

Jul 01 2002 | Read Full Review of Batavia's Graveyard: The True...

Suite 101

A challenging new book aims to change forever the perception of Stone Age Britons from the primitive to the sophisticated.

Apr 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Batavia's Graveyard: The True...

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Jun 20 2007 | Read Full Review of Batavia's Graveyard: The True...

What brings this book to life are the extra details he has also uncovered - from life on board an Indiaman merchant ship, to the background and bizarre religious history of the psychopath Jeronimus Corneliszoon, and the profit-driven practices of the Dutch East India Company, which played no smal...

Feb 04 2004 | Read Full Review of Batavia's Graveyard: The True...

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