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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,514 ratings  ·  208 reviews
The Shipwreck of the Batavia combines in just the one tale the birth of the world's first corporation, the brutality of colonisation, the battle of good vs evil, the derring-do of sea-faring adventure, mutiny, ship-wreck, love, lust, blood-lust, petty fascist dictatorship, criminality, a reign of terror, murders most foul, sexual slavery, natural nobility, survival, retrib ...more
Hardcover, 490 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Random House (first published February 28th 2011)
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Anthony Eaton
Jun 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm something of a Batavia buff. As a young bloke I spent a good chunk of my life sailing to and from the Abrolhos islands, off the coast of Western Australia, as part of my work on a Sail Training Vessel. Aside from being one of the most startlingly beautiful places on the planet, the Abrolhos islands are also home to one of the most bloody and violent episodes in Australian history - the wreck of the Dutch East Indiaman 'Batavia' on the Wallaby group of Islands during the 1500's, and the massa ...more
Jan 02, 2013 rated it liked it
I have been morbidly fascinated by the Batavia for some time now - and ravenous for books on its macabre history! When I first learned Peter FitzSimons had a weighty "creative non-fiction" tome coming out on the Batavia, I didn't know whether to groan or cheer. Having just finished reading it, I still don't.

On the one hand - it is so clearly a labour of Batavia-love, with years of research and immersion going into the making of this explicitly detailed account of the ill-fated Batavia's mutinou
Hazel Key
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
I did NOT enjoy reading this book. Still, it had me up til 2am like a slave one night trying to find out how, when and where Jeronimus get’s his come-uppance! And he does.
Well, what a sorry saga! Even allowing for the brutality that was so commonplace in the 17th Century, and for the tendency events have for expanding in the imagination as they age, the evil described was difficult to grasp. I found myself visualising a trip to those islands and wondering whether there’d be evidence, in some fo
Dillwynia Peter
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Peter Fitzsimons is very popular with the general Australian reading public. I see his tomes in the big box variety stores and at Christmas time, I note they are popular gifts to the adult male in the family. He caters for that guy; however, he doesn’t cater for me.

Unlike what Fitzsimons writes in his introductory chapter, I did learn about the Batavia wreck and some of the horrors at school. I knew what to expect. This is a lovingly researched and written book, and all the stars go to this. He
Sean Kennedy
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had to laugh when early on in this book FitzSimons states that not many Australians know about the story of the Batavia. It happened in WA, of course the other states don't care about it! However, West Australian school children rarely go throughout their education without learning of the most famous shipwreck of the west coast and most likely going on an excursion to the Maritime Museum in Fremantle to see the pieces of the boat on display (along with some of the skeletons of the victims).

Stephen Corkrey
Dec 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was hoping for more from this book. I was expecting either: (1) a well researched historical account; or (2) a yarn set within the history. This book tries for both and I doesn't makes it.

I found the writing ordinary, but that wouldn't have concerned me since I usually skim predictable paragraphs. I didn't actually doubt the historicity -- I assumed the author had the events in the right place and date and correct agents.

What did bother me was the interpolation of the characters' thoughts, s
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: if you enjoy a thrilling, tragic real life drama
Recommended to Wayne by: a fascination that began in 1981
The Titanic Story GRABBED me by the throat many years ago.
I saw it grab my students and make them eager to read.

The Batavia, another SHIPWRECK story, does the same.
It is also a Tragedy, also chilling, terrifying,and full of dread
- but for a whole host of very different reasons.
A religious fanatic creates a Totalitarian State
on a set of barren islands off the vast and desert wilderness
that is Western Australia. His subjects are the survivors from
the Batavia, wrecked on its maiden voyage;
the Mu
Karen Beath
Feb 22, 2013 rated it liked it
This book would be fine if it was fiction - but, despite the fact that Fitzsimons admits to dramatising the truth right at the start, it is still listed as non-fiction. I get it - Fitzsimons is trying to make the story interesting for a wide audience, however, lets put it this way:

shipwreck + mutiny + rebellion = it doesn't get any more interesting than that.

One thing I like about non-fiction is that I get to try to imagine what was going through the minds of the people involved in these events.
Apr 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have been to visit what remains of the Batavia a number of times in the Fremantle museum and always knew it was something of a horror story in our local history.

Peter Fitsimons, however, manages to weave an incredible tale of corporate greed, sea faring adventure, genocide, repression, mutiny, sexual repression and all out bloody murder of innocents shipwrecked in his tale of the Batavia's cursed voyage.

This book is not for the faint hearted, if anything it is a study in the power a charisma
T. Stranger
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Batavia by Peter Fitzsimons is amazing. It also brought to light the fact that Europeans came to Australia before the First Fleet Landing in 1788. Though dramatised, it is still hard to believe the utter evil that occurred during this disaster on the shores of Western Australia. It's not a spoiler when I say that voyage of Batavia didn't end well. Every Australian should read this book. I can't wait to read more by this incredible author and story-teller.

Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Being Dutch, living in Surabaya and counting Australians among my new friends, who incidentally have started me on an exploration of Australian authors, I was absolutely enthralled by this book. What an amazing reconstruction of a bonechilling story.
Anne Sadleir
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was an unexpected really good read. Couldn't put it down. Historical fact with a bit extra story telling.
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I hadn't really thought of myself as a non-fiction reader, but this book was highly recommended to me by a friend, so I went for it. As I waded my way through an extraordinarily dull preface and author's note, I found myself beginning to question their judgement. I imagined the awkward conversation during which I confessed to finding the book that they so raved about, as dull as ditch water.

All of that changed however, as the actual story began, a story so engaging, so engrossing, that parts of
Angus Mcfarlane
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There is a meme amongst Australians that our history is bland and insignificant, by virtue of the short period of written records and the (relatively) peaceful, orderly journey to modernity, carried by the inheritance gifted us by Britain. Is there any significant event or achievement which places on the world stage? I'm not sure Batavia ultimately ranks us in the significance stakes, but it is certainly not boring, or British, or post settlement, and certainly not peaceful.

The Dutch were perhap
Aug 01, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history, poor-writing
I learned about the incredible story of the Batavia shipwreck during a visit to the Western Australian Maritime Museum. With a story as dramatic and bizarre as this, it would take a pretty exceptional writer to fuck it up. Peter FitzSimons unfortunately is that exception. FitzSimons approaches the story like an eleven-year-old boy: instead of bringing the story and characters to life through his dramatization, he makes fart jokes. He seizes on the "gory bits" and "sex bits" in a way that manages ...more
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Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good introduction to the subject. Well written with lots of "might ofs" thrown in to cover for the lack of solid records. Reminds me of Scott Cookman's "Iceblink" on the demise of the Franklin Expedition.
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! What a gruesome and hard going book.. made even more so because it is a true story. Parts of it were absolutely horrendous.. and yet I couldn’t put it down. A tale of adventure, survival, violence and a lust for power.
Lorenzio Phillibuster Fireworks
Say what you will about Peter FitzSimons as a person, he knows how to tell a good story. It took me a while to really get into the stride of this book, but once I did I was hooked.

FitzSimons expertly retells the story of the Batavia and all who sailed on it with all the theatrics of the narrator of horror stories around the campfire, or the most dedicated of actors upon the stage. Hereinlies the brilliance and the failing of this book. Undertstandably, and as Peter FitzSimons makes every effort
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
I lived in Freemantle for about 12 months. During my time there, I must have visited the Western Australian Maritime Museum on at least six occasions. I loved it. Probably the highlight for me was the remnants and stories of the macabre aftermath of the 17th Century ship wreck of the Dutch East Indies Ship, the Batavia off the north coast of West Aussie. The book, ‘Batavia’, is FitzSimons’ interpretation of those macabre months after the wreck.

I loved this book. From what I remembered from my v
Ruediger Landmann
Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2014
It’s hard for me to separate my enthusiasm for this book from my interest in its subject matter: the story of the wreck of the Batavia and the fates of those aboard is a compelling and perversely fascinating one. It’s a tale of abject human awfulness, replete with pillage, rape, and murder. About the only depravity not visited upon the survivors is that they did stop short of eating one another, even when food and water ran desperately short.

The story is innately sensational, and FitzSimons rec
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is on a topic of tremendous interest to me. I recently visited the Abrolhos islands and saw Beacon Island, E. and W. Wallabi Islands, and the site of the wreck first-hand. That visit provided vivid context for picturing the situations imagined or recounted by FitzSimons. I also read Mike Dash's masterful historical account of the Batavia ordeal, which FitzSimons seems to agree, is the authoritative source. With all that in mind, I have four observations about this book.

1. I don't care
I didn’t know about this part of Australian history but I adore history and have enjoyed Peter FitzSimmons other books so was keen to read this one. I was horrified but not surprised to read of this event. The Batavia was a Dutch ship which was shipwrecked off the coast of Western Australia in the 1600’s. Of the approximately 200 that survived the shipwreck, mutineers murdered over 100 of them to keep food, water and other resources for themselves. I thought the author did a fantastic job of cre ...more
Nov 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book on the way to Bali, I spent 3 days in Abud up in the mountains at a place called the royal Pitmahar a beautiful tranquil place, in the back ground you could hear the traditional music and chanting all night,amongst the rice paddies and tropical back ground, the hand carved huts we stayed in, could have been back in the time of BATAVIA (Java) not that far from were we were, It all added to the ambiance of the book and I for the first time felt as if each time I picked the book ...more
Dec 27, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm not a big fan of FitzSimons' rather creative writing style (e.g. trying to guess what was going through a person's head at any particular moment nearly four hundred years ago), but he is very up-front and honest about what he has dramatized and the sources he has used, and why he takes such an approach. In the end, he achieves his goal, bringing this incredible story to life in an entertaining manner. It's a fabulous story, even if (or perhaps because) it's patched together with a bit of hea ...more
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Peter FitzSimons has brought this horrific tale of Australia's maritime history with jaw dropping depictions. The most expensive ship in the fleet, its crew, its precious cargo, the mutiny and shipwreck. Then follows tales of drownings, starvation, murder and treachery. Fact seems stranger than fiction when the final days unfold with a race between good and evil. It's a rollicking tale but savage nonetheless.
Jan 03, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: on-bookshelf
Wow, wow, wow - went to a session at the Perth Writers' Festival today (24 Feb 12) to listen to Peter Fitz talking about this book. Well, he sure can talk. He was amazing - have to download the podcast and keep it on my iPod. Went straight to the Dymocks tent and bought the book. Couldn't believe nobody outside WA really knew anything about this amazing episode in our history.
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Such a compelling read. A disturbing story that has inspired me to read more about the Batavia shipwreck.
Apr 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Movie in the making. Director: Peter Weir.
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
I don’t recall ever having read another book that I was so hooked on, while at the same time suffering all the way to the end to read it, and feeling annoyed the whole time.

I read a lot of historical non-fiction, and also a lot of historical fiction, but I like to keep the two genres clearly separated. That’s not what I felt with “Batavia”... although the book is well researched (to the extent possible considering the particulars of the case), and the author includes a lengthy “Authors note” at
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Peter FitzSimons is one of Australia’s most prominent and successful media and publishing identities. His busy professional life involves co-hosting the breakfast program on Sydney's Radio 2UE, writing weekly columns for the Sydney Morning Herald and Sun Herald newspapers, appearing on Foxtel's Back Page television show and, when time permits, authoring best-selling books. A correspondent for Lond ...more
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