Review of Inventing the English Massacre: Amboyna in History and Memory, by Alison Games


In 1623, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) beheaded twenty-one men on charges of conspiracy and treason in a public execution. Ten of the condemned were employees of the English East India Company (EIC) who had been trading in the Moluccas, better known as the Spice Islands, alongside their Dutch counterparts since the beginning of the century. The incident was hardly the most outrageous mass violence in the region’s tumultuous past. Nevertheless, the EIC dubbed the episode the “Amboyna Massacre,” which gained remarkable significance in various historical writings and unexpected longevity in the British culture in the following centuries. Alison Games’s monograph Inventing the English Massacre is the latest scholarly inquiry into the ambiguous conspiracy and the episode’s long afterlife, spanning British imperial history.