Excellent. I found this book to be an interesting, informative, and entertaining read. This is the second book written by Tim Hannigan that I have read. The first one was his Brief History of Indonesia. I think that he is a very talented writer.
The book starts with the observation that the Javanese, in a general sense the people who live on the island of Java, lament the fact that the Dutch were the colonial power and not the British, but then goes on to describe the five years that the British were in charge from 1811 until 1816, and then ends the book with the same observation that the people who today live on the island of Java think that if they had been colonised by the British instead of the Dutch things would have been so much better in Indonesia. Without ever have been to Indonesia (yet) I have heard the same thing, and the excellent travelogue Indonesia etc: Exploring the improbable nation by Elisabeth Pisani makes pretty much the same point. Without really delving into the reason why, Tim Hannigan does in effect say that they are mistaken on two counts. Firstly, there are plenty of countries colonised by the British that have done badly, and, secondly, the British did colonise / run Indonesia. In fact, the British ran Indonesia twice. In 1811 - 1816 and arguably again in 1945 - 1946.
Yes, Tim Hannigan does appear to be highly critical of Thomas Stamford Raffles, and maybe that is no bad thing.
If I have a criticism of this particular book is that it does seem a bit thin, but at well over 350 pages long maybe to have delved more deeply into the situation before the British invasion, during the fives years the British were there, and what the consequences were in the short, medium, and long-term, other than a general observation that people drive on the left in Indonesia because of the five years the British were there, would have meant a multi-volume work out of keeping with Tim Hannigan's style? This is a book after the style of the excellent Brief History of Indonesia.
Anyway, I, personally, thoroughly enjoyed reading Raffles and the British Invasion of Java. Tim Hannigan says that he was in Java teaching English, and I think that he is a teacher. He appears to me to have a nose for knowing what many a reader is going to know about Java, in particular, and Indonesia, in general, viz sometimes little to nothing, and explains points that other authors assume people will know. This is, therefore, a good stand-alone book, and I don't think you need to have read around the topic to be able to follow what is being said, although it is highly likely that you'll be reading this book because you have an interest in Singapore and / or in Indonesia, and then in the overall mix of books on those two countries this one is definitely worth buying and reading ... maybe even at the top or near the top of the list. It is such an easy, entertaining, and generally informative read.
- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 1199 KB
- Print Length: 384 pages
- Publisher: Monsoon Books Pte. Ltd. (1 November 2012)
- Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00A2SQU3G
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews: 15 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #462,517 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)