Book Review – ‘Shipwreck and Survival in Oman, 1763: The fate of the ‘Amstelveen’ and thirty castaways on the south coast of Arabia’ by Guido van Meersbergen
This attractively produced volume tells the story of the demise of the Dutch East Indiaman Amstelveen on the coast of Oman in August 1763, and the subsequent trek through the Arabian Desert by a band of 30 survivors. It is based on the eyewitness account by the only officer to survive the shipwreck, third mate Cornelis Eyks. His 54-page narrative, entitled Noodlottige Gevallen van het Volk van ’t Schip Amstelveen, appeared in 1766 in the gentlemen’s magazine Tydverkorting of Magazyn der Heeren, published by J. van de Sande in Middelburg. Shipwreck and Survival was first published in 2012 by Pallas Publications, an imprint of the Amsterdam University Press. In 2014 it was reissued alongside its Dutch counterpart Schipbreuk in Oman, although without the appendix containing the transcription of Eyks’s original account which the latter includes. This omission diminishes the book’s scholarly value, and readers looking for a critical edition of Eyks’s narrative will be disappointed.
Rather than a translation of a historical text, Doornbos offers a retelling of the events which mixes summary with citation and personal reflection. The book’s main contribution is that it brings to light a spectacular and virtually unknown episode which it recounts in accessible fashion …