The tragic tale of the Batavia is one of the greatest stories ever told. Indeed, when Pelsaert’s Journal was first published in 1647, it became a best seller. The story has everything: drama, romance, adventure, mystery, murder, massacre and mayhem.
Although written as a historical fiction, the book is as historically accurate as possible. Written with the aim of bringing Batavia to the cinemas, it has all of the ingredients to become one of the greatest movies ever made. If Satan did exist, he would have personified himself as Jeronimus Cornelisz. It is a story of a struggle to retain our human dignity, our decency when the
temptations of greed, lust, power and ultimately, a choice between a life as a murderer or death, are put to the test.
For the author, it was a horrific journey: “I had to ‘live’ the evil that festered in the minds of maniacal men as well as ‘feel’ the terror of the helpless victims. I had to enter into a dark place, a place that I had never been before to engage in the most unspeakable evil and commit, in my mind, the most despicable and depraved acts of barbarism.” This is not a book for the very young or the faint hearted.
The book asks some uncomfortable questions, such as: How much evil would you be prepared to commit in order to stay alive? How many people would you kill before you stop? Is it better to die an honourable death or live a dishonourable life as a murderer?