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Synopsis

On a hot August afternoon in 1811, an army of 10,000 British redcoats splashed ashore through the muddy shallows off Batavia (the former name of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital) to conquer the Dutch colony of Java. They would remain there for five turbulent years. Drawing on both British and Javanese archival sources, this entertaining and highly readable narrative history-cum-biography explores the bloody battles and furious controversies that marked British rule in Java, and reveals the future founder of Singapore, Thomas Stamford Raffles – long celebrated as a hero, a liberal and a visionary – in a shocking new light, showing how he crushed dissent, looted palaces and incited massacres to further his own insatiable ambitions. The book features the dramatic Battle of Batavia, the sinister British expedition to Palembang, the 1812 sacking and looting of Yogyakarta, and various fights between soldiers and civilians, buffaloes and tigers, and Englishmen and Javanese.

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