It is the First World War and the Flashmanesque German naval reserve captain, Julius Lauterbach, is a prisoner of war in Singapore. He is also a braggart, a womaniser and a heavy drinker and through his bored fantasies he unwittingly triggers a mutiny by Muslim troops of the British garrison and so throws the whole course of the war in doubt. The British lose control of the city, its European inhabitants flee to the ships in the harbour and it is only with the help of Japanese marines that the Empire is saved. Rogue Raider is the adventure story of how one ship, the Emden, ties up the navies of four nations only to be sunk at The Battle of Cocos by the Royal Australian Navy light cruiser HMAS Sydney, and how one man eludes Allied Forces in a desperate chase across Asia to America as he attempts to regain his native land. It is fictionalised history but a true history that was deliberately suppressed by the British authorities of the time as too embarrassing and dangerous to be kwn. Revealed here, it brings vividly to life the Southeast Asia of the period, its sights, its sounds and its rich mix of peoples. And through it an unwilling participant in the war becomes an accidental hero.
Nigel Barley is a former curator at The British Museum and is the author of twenty books with Penguin, Time Warner, Monsoon and Little, Brown.