The Duke of Puddledock: Travels in the Footsteps of Stamford Raffles (Penguin Travel Library)

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9780140145366: The Duke of Puddledock: Travels in the Footsteps of Stamford Raffles (Penguin Travel Library)

Sir Stamford Raffles is known as a man of the Empire, a reforming colonialist and prodigal adventurer. Yet his brilliant career proved to be brief. What happened? Nigel Barley set out to find the reasons as he travelled, literally and imaginatively, through the lands that Raffles had known almost 200 years earlier: from Malacca to Java, Bali to Singapore. Nigel Barley's book - part biography, part the experiences of a contemporary traveller - brings a modern sensibility to veer on a major historical figure. The author also wrote "Native Land", "A Plague of Caterpillars", "Not a Hazardous Sport" and "The Coast".

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Admirers of Barley's witty and revealing anthropological- adventure yarns (Not a Hazardous Sport, 1989, etc.) will be pleased to see that the assistant curator of the British Museum has not lost his touch as he recounts his experiences at sites associated with Sir Stamford Raffles (1781-1826)--founder of Singapore and general burr under the saddle of the high-riding directors of the British East India Company during the early 19th century. Puzzled by conflicting reports on the enigmatic Englishman's life, Barley set off to track Raffles's exploits across the East Asian landscape, through Java, Bali, Singapore, and, finally, back to England, where Raffles died at age 44. The scene shifts back and forth between the Georgian statesman's public successes (governor of Java, knighthood) and private sorrows (the early death of his first wife and three of his four children), and Barley's own befuddlements and brouhahas. Along the way, the author draws unexpected parallels between Raffles's views and those of Indonesia's toppled left-leaning dictator, Sukarno. Barley's own views are delightfully iconoclastic: ``All anthropologists and writers bring a deadly infection, for to make a place known is to contribute to the destruction of what makes it interesting.'' And his eye is always on the alert for the peripheral action, as when he notes a drum majorette's dented baton ``that spoke of the need for further practice.'' Despite Barley's yeomanly efforts, many of Raffles's motivations and even some of his actions remain obscure here. It's the author's own rambunctious exploits that carry the day--and that's more than enough. (Sixteen pages of b&w illustrations, map- -not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

In this enchanting pastiche of history, biography and travelogue, the British Museum's assistant keeper and director of the Museum of Mankind resurrects the "real" Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781-1826), founder and British governor of Singapore. Following in Raffles's footsteps, Barley plays the known facts about his life against the contradictory local myths and gossip about him in a witty portrait of a man now known primarily by the name of the famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore. Born poor, Raffles was dubbed "the Duke" by an aunt for his elegant airs. From a menial job at the East India Company, he rose to a position that enabled him to help take Java from the cruel rule of the Dutch to the more (controversially) beneficent one of the British. The book is also an entertaining visit with the intrepid author and a host of high and low characters Barley drew into his adventure.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Published by Penguin Books Ltd (1993)
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ISBN 10: 0140145362 ISBN 13: 9780140145366
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