I have written one or two things in my time so I usually don’t get freaked out by blank pages, but being a product of a less-digital age the blank screen can still be fairly imposing.
Raffles and the British Invasion of Java, by Tim Hannigan, is a well researched and well-written book. Tim Hannigan presents Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (6 July 1781 – 5 July 1826) in a way he has rarely been seen; not as a liberal paragon, but as a flawed, overly-ambitious man. He is presented as intelligent and creative, but also as willful, petty and somewhat of a hypocrite.
An examination of the life and legacy of the man often credited with the success that is Singapore. This book looks at what happened when the British invaded Java. It’s not an alternate history or an episode of Doctor Who. The British did invade and occupied Java for almost five years (Aug. 1811-March 1816).
The changes, reforms and consequences of that half-decade resonated long after they left. From government structure, land division and the administration of tax districts Raffles policies and decisions would have lasting consequences for himself, his family, Indonesia and for Great Britain.
The man who is touted as a great reformer is more often revealed as an example of colonial excess, greed and cultural disregard.