White Rajah : A Biography of Sir James Brooke, Paperback

White Rajah : A Biography of Sir James Brooke Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


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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In undergraduate university classes, I learnt about James Brookes and the Sarawak dynasty he founded before the World War II and the clamour for independence around Asia put an end to the White Rajahs.This book, however, plunged me into indepth knowledge of Brookes's personal life, from his relationship with a Brunei prince, to his proclivity to striking up conversations with naked pubescent boys and inviting them to Sarawak and to Brookes's supposed carnal involvement with the rough trade in Totnes.These bon mots helped me understand the man behind the Rajah far better than any number of dry academic treatises. Highly recommended.