Engines of empire refers to the decisive impact of modern technology on global relations in the age of imperialism. The Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij (KPM) provides a fascinating instance. This major Dutch shipping company operated in the Indonesian archipelago from 1891 to 1957. Its extensive fleet of steamships provided far-flung liner services. River-boats penetrated into the heart of Sumatra and Borneo. Pioneer lines incorporated remote islands and isolated coasts into the interinsular network. Interregional lines radiated from Java into the Indian and Pacific oceans. This integrated liner system articulated with global shipping lines in central ports like Batavia (Jakarta), Surabaya and Singapore. By developing the maritime infrastructure of the archipelago KPM was instrumental in the consolidation of the colonial state, the pacification of the Outer Islands and the integration into the global economy. Decolonisation led to the demise of its business operations and the demasque of its corporate ideology of colonial rule and economic development.
This edition is a slightly adapted version of the Dutch edition, published in 1992 as: Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij. Stoomvaart en staatsvorming in de Indonesische archipel 1888-1914. ISBN 90-6550-403-6
'Most of this book is a long-awaited translation of the author's doctoral dissertation, published in Dutch in 1992. It is a laudable contribution to the historiography of Indonesia, not simply because the study of Indonesia's past is not well endowed with such studies, or because of the book's impressive size, but because it is a well-considered study containing a wealth of relevant detail on the first twenty-five years (1888-1914) of the main shipping company in colonial Indonesia, the KPM.' Pierre van der Eng in: International Journal of Maritime History (Volume XV, no. 2).