Max Havelaar was a VERY important book in shaping and modifying the Dutch colonial policy in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
The protagonist, Dutch colonial administrator Max Havelaar, tries to battle against a corrupt government system in Java, which was then a Dutch colony. Multatuli’s book made European readers aware of the fact that their wealth was only possible because people on the other side of the world were suffering. It illustrates the hypocrisy of wealthy Dutchmen in the colonies, who rather looked away than act against the exploitation of poor natives by the Indonesian government – because it helped them and their home country The Netherlands become wealthier too, of course.
This is one of those books that really made a change in history. People warned me that it was boring, but I didn’t find it that boring at all. In fact, the chapters by Droogstoppel were super funny, and the chapters taking place in the Indies were so intriguing/fascinating they couldn’t be boring.