With numbing regularity, publishers of history books strive to grab the attention of window-shoppers by declaiming that the book on offer tells an untold story. The trouble with most of these claims is that their stories have already been told. And if they have not, it is usually because the narratives they relate are either not worth hearing, or utterly fabricated. As fabrication sells better than triviality, pure nonsense has been gaining ground in the field of popular history over the past decade. The narrow soul who spoils the effect by pointing out that this or that untold story is actually untold nonsense rarely gets a hearing.
In the case of this book, however, I was able to relax. The publisher is absolutely right: the defeat in 1662 of the Dutch colonists on Taiwan by the naval forces commanded by Zheng Chenggong, popularly known as Koxinga, is an untold story worthy of the label. Not only is