Sir James Brooke was an extraordinary 'eminent' Victorian, whose life was the stuff of legend.His curious career began in 1841 when he was caught up in a war in Brunei which had started because a party of local Dayaks had refused to furl their umbrellas in the presence of the Sultan. Brooke was an opportunist who, with the Sultan's backing, made war on the Dayaks tribespeople and eventually found himself ruling over Sarawak - a kingdom the size of England - as a result. How he achieved it is a romantic, sometimes horrifying story. Brooke is someone that George Macdonald Fraser would scarcely dare to invent. Errol Flynn wanted to play him in a movie, seventy years after his death and his dynasty is remembered throughout South-East Asia.
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(198mm x 134mm x 18mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
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UK Kirkus Review »
Born in 1803, Sir James Brooke squeezed an inordinate amount of adventure into his 65 years. From his exceedingly spoilt childhood in India, via his unremarkable time as a boarder at King Edward VI Grammar School in Norwich to his all too brief but action-packed time in the army, we start to get an idea of the kind of man he was. For Brooke, the importance of the right kind of boat could never be underestimated and his early experiences of sailing gave him a taste for escape and freedom. His desire to live life 'on the margins of established order' soon connected with his growing interest in the likes of Sir Stamford Raffles and that vast, exotic world that thrived beyond the 'dangerously pestilential environment of 19th-century England'. In his early 20s he set out on his first voyage to the east, and before he was 40 he had become the governor of Sarawak. Many pithy comments are attributed to this 'curious and disquieting' character, a man for whom committees could best be summed up by the way they 'kept minutes and wasted hours'. Here was a man who was far from being a saint, and all the more fascinating for it. His influence on that north-west corner of Borneo is still very much in evidence today, and it's easy to see how Errol Flynn was just dying to play the movie part. Nigel Barley's role as a curator in the Ethnography Department of the British Museum has already informed his previous publications, which have covered subjects ranging from Sir Stamford Raffles to African pottery. Here, he manages, with his erudite wit and withering humour, to have Sir James Brooke virtually leap out at the reader from the pages of this captivating study. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Nigel Barley
Nigel Barley is the author of six books, including THE INNOCENT ANTHROPOLOGIST and DANCING ON THE GRAVE. He is the curator of London's Museum of Mankind.