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Response to Review no. 870

I welcome David Chandler’s generous review of the above-mentioned monograph. I welcome Chandler’s review partly because it contains a comprehensive and faithful summary of the historical narrative, and partly also because he accepts this monograph as a contribution to the historiography of Cambodia. As I stated on page four, this was indeed one of my aims. I wanted to show that works based for the most part on the records of the Dutch East India Company (which are vast and underutilized), need not necessarily take the form of jingoistic contributions to the knowledge of the Netherlands overseas, but that these records can also be used in such a way that they shed light on the histories of the states, peoples and tribes of Asia, the Middle East and Africa with which the Company came into contact.

I am pleased also that David Chandler accepts as credible my speculative comments at the end of the piece to the effect that if Van Diemen had not prematurely died, a second and no doubt much larger Dutch fleet would have sailed for Cambodia which, in alliance with Siam, might well have removed the Cambodian king from the throne and have drawn that country into Siam’s orbit a century earlier than it actually did. Obviously, a random event, a matter of pure chance, such as the death of single individual at a particular time, can have bearing on the historical trajectories of nations. This is something worth thinking about.