'An original and evocative window onto the lives of men who bridged the two worlds of eighteenth century Europe and the Far East.' Professor Nicholas Rodger. This book represents a major contribution to our kwledge and understanding of the East Indian maritime world of the European trading companies. The Dutch East India Company, which ruled large and important parts of what is w Indonesia, and which controlled the highly lucrative trade from the Dutch East Indies to Europe, much of it a mopoly trade in pepper and other spices, was in this period larger and better established than its British counterpart. The book reconstructs and explores the careers of the highly important and influential commanders of the Dutch East Indiamen, the ships which plied the trade routes between the East Indies and the Netherlands. It covers the company's system of examinations, how mates and masters acquired their navigational kwledge, how they lived their lives at sea and on land, and how, making use of the ermous opportunities for private trade, they were able to make substantial fortunes and climb the social ladder. The book contains a wealth of material on the social history of the commanders and those around them, both at home and at sea. JAAP R. BRUIJN is Professor Emeritus of Maritime History at Leiden University. He is one of the leading maritime historians in the Netherlands.