The dissolute Cape Town beer brewer, Willem Menssink, whose 'fatal passion' for a young slave woman brought about his downfall; Carel Buijtendag, the 'beast of the Bokkeveld'; and Estienne Barbier, the quixotic champion of the oppressed and leader of a rebellion against the VOC government: these, as well as an assortment of runaway slaves and Company deserters, are some of the lesser-known characters from the eighteenth-century Dutch Cape whom the historian Nigel Penn has brought to life in a series of hugely enjoyable and historically revealing stories. Dr Nigel Penn, who lectures in the Department of History at the University of Cape Town, has researched widely in the history of the eighteenth-century Cape.
'Penn beseft dat geschiedenis allereerst over mensen gaat en het is in hem te prijzen dat hij zijn hoofdpersonen zo levendig neerzet. Ze krijgen karakters mee. Bovendien slaagt hij erin om zijn microniveau naar een macroniveau te tillen, waardoor een breder beeld ontstaat en hiaten worden opgevuld.' R. Dorsman in: Trouw 11-12-1999. 'There can be no doubt that anyone reading these essays will learn much about the eighteenth-century Cape - about slavery, gender, the life of the burgher elite, the frontier and more. But there are other reasons for reading them. They are superbly researched and well written pieces, and should thus be enjoyed by all those who can savour a historian's craft.' Robert Ross in: Journal of African History (2001) vol. 42.