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Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China's…
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Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China's First Great Victory Over the West (2011)

by Tonio Andrade

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Showing 4 of 4
Others have described the historical point in China's and the Dutch East India's histories that the book focuses on, so let me focus on the question of style. The scholarship is very good; the author has done a huge amount of research and the notes and sources are excellent for follow-up, clarification, etc. Having heard of Koxinga and his role in Chinese history, I was looking for more facts about him, his drivers, his behaviour, etc. (what makes him obviously intriguing is his colourful personality and the fact that he did defeat the Dutch). The book answered all my questions about him and this particular incident in Chinese history.

However, I only awarded it 3-1/2 stars because I felt the book was 'bigger' than the story. The book's viewpoint is somewhat unique; the story clearly relates a historical 'freeze frame', and my book group (which reads Asian non-fiction) chose it for this reason, but the story was told using fiction-writing techniques--the use of rhetoric, for example, and dramatic build-ups, and turn-arounds--which I just found annoying by their too frequent use. It got to the point where whenever a chapter was ending on a "So here was a good plan" ending, you just knew the next chapter would open with a "But they decided not to follow it" opening. There is also too much repetition of facts that most readers will have remembered from their first appearance.

Am I glad I read Lost Colony? Yes, but I wish a good editor had helped Professor Andrade with the structure and style. ( )
  pbjwelch | Jul 25, 2017 |
Andrade gives a full account of the Chinese Ming loyalist and pirate Koxinga's conquest of Taiwan from the Dutch, beginning with Koxinga's father who had attained great success as a pirate by alliance with the Dutch. Andrade was originally interested I the war as a test case for the long-running debate about the extent, if any, of European superiority to the Asians, especially in the Chinese, in the early modern era. He frankly said he began o the assumption that the victory represented an unequivocal example of Asian equality (or superiority) to the Europeans, but finally concluded that the Europeans had some genuine technological superiority in guns and ships, but the Chinese had overcome these advantage by their sophisticated strategy and firm discipline, as well as obvious advantages such as their sheer numbers of troops and the proximity of their base. Judging from reviews, not everyone agrees with this interpretation, but this is easily the fullest account of the war using information from both sides. ( )
  antiquary | Sep 29, 2015 |
The Lost Colony suffers from a singularly bad title. It is the tale of the Chinese conquest of Formosa/Taiwan which, as a poor underdeveloped island, had up to then not featured much in Chinese perception. With the collapse of the Ming dynasty and the establishment of the Manchu Qing dynasty, the Chinese in the south sought to preserve their independence from the Manchus. As their military chance of resisting on land was tiny, their only hope was the conquest of an island sufficiently distant from the main shore. Taiwan fit their profile perfectly.

The Dutch VOC who had a few years before kicked out the Spanish out of the island did not notice the desperation and will of the Chinese. They were caught rather unprepared by the Chinese invasion and managed to misuse the advantages they had. In a tactical folly, their mobile force of musketeers was annihilated through bad leadership and their most important warship blown up thanks to poor fire discipline. The Dutch relief force also failed to understand the principles later formulated by Mahan. The only hope the Dutch had were their European-style defensive works. Once the Chinese learned its weaknesses from Swiss and German defectors, the game was up and the colony lost.

Tonio Andrade has written an excellent account of the campaign and a flashy biography of the colorful Chinese-Japanese pirate warlord Coxinga. His discussion of the Eastern and Western styles of war is also thoughtful and should be taken as a plea to study Asian (military) history more.

Jonathan Clements’ Coxinga and the fall of the Ming dynasty, as the title implies, concentrates its story to the mainland. The two books complement each other well. In contrast to Andrade, Clements, for instance, mentions the Dutch governor Frederick Coyett’s Swedish origin which can at least partially explain the mistrust of the Dutch who did not give him the independent command the situation required. One can feel Coyett’s frustration in the Dutch title of his defensive tract “'t Verwaerloosde Formosa, of Waerachtig verhael, hoedanigh door verwaerloosinge der Nederlanders in Oost-Indien, het eylant Formosa, van den Chinesen Mandorijn, ende zeeroover Coxinja, overrompelt, vermeestert, ende ontweldight is geworden". With a bit more luck and thought, the Dutch could have easily held onto Taiwan into the 20th century. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote jcbrunner | Nov 30, 2013 |
One of the best books I read in 2011, hugely entertaining, but also serious history. Lost Colony reads like a novel, full of colorful people and exotic places, clashes of East and West in battles at sea and on land over castles, with swords and gunpowder, metal armor and muskets, pirates and rebels, heroes and tyrants.

Since the book is about the first major conflict between China and Europe, it offers an opportunity to "test" why Europe came to dominate the world, and not China, one of the great historical questions. Was it because the West had superior military power? This theory has been standard for a long time, but new evidence suggests it's not so black and white. The events of the Sino-Dutch War show why. I was intrigued by Jared Diamond's blurb, and he is spot on, "you can read this as a novel that just happens to be true.. or a window into one of the biggest unsolved questions of world history." It's not often we get both these things in one book, I was sorry when it ended and tried to slow my reading.

The book is well illustrated including more maps than it needs (first time ever saw that). Generous footnotes and bibliography. Overall a great production.

--Review by Stephen Balbach, via CoolReading (c) 2011 cc-by-nd ( )
2 vote Stbalbach | Nov 10, 2011 |
Showing 4 of 4
The Chinese naval and land military defeats versus all foreign powers, including Japan, Russia, Britain and France from 1886 to 1947, are well known. What is not well known is the Chinese defeat of Dutch forces over Taiwan in 1660. This is the second book by Associate Professor of History Tonio Andrade of Emory University on this conflict. In his first book, “How Taiwan Became Chinese” (2008), Professor Andrade held the popular position that Europe conquered other continents instead of China, who developed earlier, because of European superior weapons and tactics. His further research on Chinese military evolution caused him to reverse his position in this second book on the 1660 Taiwan conflict with the Dutch.
 
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Today, fifty-year-old Frederick Coyet was to be executed for treason, a verdict he found deeply unjust.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0691144559, Hardcover)

During the seventeenth century, Holland created the world's most dynamic colonial empire, outcompeting the British and capturing Spanish and Portuguese colonies. Yet, in the Sino-Dutch War--Europe's first war with China--the Dutch met their match in a colorful Chinese warlord named Koxinga. Part samurai, part pirate, he led his generals to victory over the Dutch and captured one of their largest and richest colonies--Taiwan. How did he do it? Examining the strengths and weaknesses of European and Chinese military techniques during the period, Lost Colony provides a balanced new perspective on long-held assumptions about Western power, Chinese might, and the nature of war.

It has traditionally been asserted that Europeans of the era possessed more advanced science, technology, and political structures than their Eastern counterparts, but historians have recently contested this view, arguing that many parts of Asia developed on pace with Europe until 1800. While Lost Colony shows that the Dutch did indeed possess a technological edge thanks to the Renaissance fort and the broadside sailing ship, that edge was neutralized by the formidable Chinese military leadership. Thanks to a rich heritage of ancient war wisdom, Koxinga and his generals outfoxed the Dutch at every turn.

Exploring a period when the military balance between Europe and China was closer than at any other point in modern history, Lost Colony reassesses an important chapter in world history and offers valuable and surprising lessons for contemporary times.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:08 -0400)

"During the seventeenth century, Holland created the world's most dynamic colonial empire, outcompeting the British and capturing Spanish and Portuguese colonies. Yet, in the Sino-Dutch War--Europe's first war with China--the Dutch met their match in a colorful Chinese warlord named Koxinga. Part samurai, part pirate, he led his generals to victory over the Dutch and captured one of their largest and richest colonies--Taiwan. How did he do it? Examining the strengths and weaknesses of European and Chinese military techniques during the period, Lost Colony provides a balanced new perspective on long-held assumptions about Western power, Chinese might, and the nature of war. It has traditionally been asserted that Europeans of the era possessed more advanced science, technology, and political structures than their Eastern counterparts, but historians have recently contested this view, arguing that many parts of Asia developed on pace with Europe until 1800. While Lost Colony shows that the Dutch did indeed possess a technological edge thanks to the Renaissance fort and the broadside sailing ship, that edge was neutralized by the formidable Chinese military leadership. Thanks to a rich heritage of ancient war wisdom, Koxinga and his generals outfoxed the Dutch at every turn. Exploring a period when the military balance between Europe and China was closer than at any other point in modern history, Lost Colony reassesses an important chapter in world history and offers valuable and surprising lessons for contemporary times."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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