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, retribution, rescue, first contact with native peoples and so much more.
Described by author Peter FitzSimons as "a true Adults Only version of Lord of the Flies, meeting Nightmare on Elm Street," the story is set in 1629, when the pride of the Dutch East India Company, the Batavia, is on its maiden voyage en route from Amsterdam to the Dutch East Indies, laden down with the greatest treasure to leave Holland. The magnificent ship is already boiling over with a mutinous plot that is just about to break into the open when, just off the coast of Western Australia, it strikes an unseen reef in the middle of the night.
While Commandeur Francisco Pelsaert decides to take the long-boat across 2000 miles of open sea for help, his second-in-command Jeronimus Cornelisz takes over, quickly deciding that 250 people on a small island is unwieldy for the small number of supplies they have. Quietly, he puts forward a plan to 40 odd mutineers how they could save themselves, kill most of the rest and spare only a half-dozen or so women, including his personal fancy, Lucretia Jansz - one of the noted beauties of Holland - to service their sexual needs. A reign of terror begins, countered only by a previously anonymous soldier Wiebbe Hayes, who begins to gather to him those are prepared to do what it takes to survive . . . hoping against hope that the Commandeur will soon be coming back to them with the rescue yacht. It all happened, long ago, and it is for a very good reason that Peter FitzSimons has long maintained that this is "far and away the greatest story in Australia's history, if not the world's."
FitzSimons unique writing style has made him the country's best-selling non-fiction writer over the last ten years, and he is perfect man to make this bloody, chilling, stunning tale come alive.
Peter FitzSimons, born in Peats Ridge, New South Wales, 29 June, 1961, is a former Wallabies rugby union player. He now works as a journalist, author and radio presenter. He has the distinction of being the only Wallaby ever sent from the field against the All Blacks. Following his international career he played with CA Brive in France for 4 seasons, becoming the clubs first ever foreign player.
Based in Sydney, Peter FitzSimons is a sports columnist and writer for The Sydney Morning Herald. FitzSimons also regularly appears on the Australian Foxtel programme, The Back Page, hosted by rugby league journalist Mike Gibson. For the Saturday edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, FitzSimons writes a column titled "The Fitz Files" which looks at all the happenings over the past seven days in sport. He also writes a more general version of the "The Fitz Files" on page two of the Sun-Herald on Sundays, focusing on community activities and events in Sydney.
In 2006 he began co-hosting a breakfast radio program with Mike Carlton on Sydney radio station 2UE. He was brought onto the 2UE breakfast show by management in January 2006 in an attempt to boost the program's dwindling ratings. Mike Carlton was vocal in his opposition to having an on-air partner, but the move immediately paid dividends with an immediate audience increase. However, the "Mike and Fitz" breakfast show still trails a long way behind the current number one program on 2GB, hosted by Alan Jones who coincidentally coached FitzSimons at the Manly rugby club and when he was a Wallaby. FitzSimons was often joined on air by his wife, Nine Network Today Show presenter Lisa Wilkinson.
After two years on Breakfast with Mike and Fitz, Peter FitzSimons hung up the headphones to become a stay at home Dad and focus on his writing. Mike Carlton has thanked Fitz for the "most fun" he's ever had on the radio.
FitzSimons is an established author with such books as Kokoda, which recounts the numerous battles between Australian and Japanese Troops on the Kokoda track during World War II, and biographies of former Australian Labor Party leader Kim Beazley, Nick Farr-Jones, John Eales, Nancy Wake and Steve Waugh. His latest book is Tobruk, which recounts the story of the Rats of Tobruk as they fought during World War II against Italian, then later the Afrika Korps as they were led by then-General Erwin Rommell.
He is married to Today host Lisa Wilkinson, with whom he has three children. He is a former student of Knox Grammar School at Wahroonga, Sydney. His sons Jake and Louis FitzSimons also attend Knox Grammar School.
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