Raffles and the Golden Opportunity
07 November 2013, 09:53
2012 | EPUB + MOBI | 6.36/5.56MB
The Raffles Hotel in Singapore is a relic British supremacy, part of the mythology of the British Empire. This book brings this era to life with British self-depreciation and matter-of-fact straightforwardness. Anyone appreciating the Raffles Hotel or the "Lion City" will love this book.
Stanford Thomas Raffles was, of course, founder of modern Singapore raising the British flag on the small jungle covered island in 1819 while in the service of the East India Company. It was actually a case of doing something first then seeking approval later, as it could take up to ten months each way for dispatches between the East and the London headquarters in those days of sail.
The author entwines Raffles' biography with skill and imperialist interest describing him as a highly-strung, clever, articulate, impetuous, charming, small in stature and physically fragile man who was never much good at making money, either for himself or for the East India Company whose main objective was to profit from the trade in spices. Raffles modestly aimed to drive out the cruel Dutch and treacherous French and bring peace and happiness to the region. Raffles had Enlightenment values and liberal principles including the abolition of slavery yet had been proud to receive the Order of the Golden Sword from the local Sultan of Acheen, lent his name to "Rafflesia arnoldii" the largest flower in the world, and later contributed to the British Museum and founded the London Zoo.
Victoria Glendinning has beautifully researched the essence of Raffles from the records of Sophia Raffles his second wife and fifty shelf miles - imperial miles not kilometres of course - of East India Company papers in the India Office Records in the British Library. This biography is a delight to read.
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