Review: “When Britain Ruled the Philippines, 1762-1764″

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 24 - 2011

I know that a lot of Rocket Kapre readers and Philippine speculative fiction writers are fans of Philippine history, so I thought I’d point you all to my review of Shirley Fish’s “When Britain Rules the Philippines: 1762-1764 (The Story of the 18th Century British Invasion of the Philippines During the Seven Years War)” over at Filipiniana.net. For those looking to skip to the bottom line, here’s my conclusion, which should show the book’s appeal to those with a speculative point of view:

But these are relatively minor quibbles in the face of what the book has accomplished, which is to serve as a very well-researched account of a specific period of our history that other texts gloss over. Even more than that, however, is the fact that in developing the characters of many of the principal players in the conflict, Fish has tailored her account in such a way as to feed the imagination: What if Drake had not been given “complete control of the government and the military”? What if Anda had agreed to an alliance with the conscripted Sepoys? When a work of history has you musing about what might have been, you know that it has succeeded where lesser works have failed: it has avoided the trap of making history seem inevitable. In some other universe, we’re watching the Royal Wedding with an entirely different set of emotions… and thanks to Fish’s book, I have a greater understanding of why that universe isn’t this one.

One thing I forgot to mention in the review: the book can be hard to find, but I did see several copies available for purchase at the Frank Lynch Library of the Philippine Social Science Council Building. Of course, that was months ago, but even if they don’t have Fish’s book, a trip to the library should be worthwhile to any history fan–they have a stock of Filipiniana books that I haven’t seen available anywhere else.

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Rocket Kapre is an imprint of Eight Ray Sun Publishing Inc. (a new Philippine-based publisher), dedicated to bringing the very best of Philippine Speculative Fiction in English to a worldwide audience by means of digital distribution. More info can be found at our About section at the top of the page.

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