In 1629 the Dutch East India Company ship Batavia, bound for Java with 250 passengers and crew aboard, struck a reef near a remote archipelago of Western Australia where it sank. Far from any hope of rescue, with survivors scattered over a few tiny, nearly-uninhabitable islands, this dire situation devolved into a nightmare when the highest-ranking man in the group, a company employee named Jeronimus Cornelis, took advantage of his position and began systematically orchestrating the murder of fellow castaways, including women and children, according to his terrifying whims.
Using court testimony given by witnesses who survived (or participated) in this terrifying ordeal, author Mike Dash tells the chilling true story of Cornelis’ terrifying reign in a measured, compelling narrative that is never gratuitous or over the top. Through his extensive research, Dash charts the course of Cornelis’ life, piecing together the steps that brought this sociopath halfway around the world, where he first plotted a mutiny with the ship’s captain, and then coerced fellow survivors to murder their own. A page-turning mash-up of true crime and historical narrative.