SOLDIER IN PARADISE: The Life of Captain John Stedman, 1744-1797 by Louise Collis

SOLDIER IN PARADISE: The Life of Captain John Stedman, 1744-1797

Email this review


Its setting late 18th-century Holland and Dutch Guiana, its hero, John Stedman, an officer in the Scots Brigade in Holland and in Surinam, this small volume by an English writer is a pleasant deviation from routine biography. The son of a Scotsman with the Scots Brigade and a Dutch mother, Stedman, born in Holland in 1744, was predestined to disappointments. Possessed of considerable artistic talent and a fondness for dissipation, plagued his life long by lack of money, in 1772 Stedman went with Dutch troops to Surinam to fight revolting ""Bush Negroes,"" slaves who had fled to the jungles and were happily raiding plantations and settlements. Alternating between a 1 life of luxurious dissipation in Paramaribo and one of misery in the ""Paradise"" of the steaming jungles, Stedman spent years pursuing--and failing to catch--Bush Negroes, and surviving disease, drink and mosquitoes. Falling in love with a beautiful slave girl, Joanna, but lacking money to buy her, he unsuccessfully tried duce her to return to Holland with him; Joanna loved him, but preferred to stay safely in Paramaribo with an indulgent mistress. Returning alone, Stedman married a Dutch wife, moved to England, where he failed to publish a book on Surinam, and died in 1797. Based on Stedman's diaries and illustrated with his drawings, the book also contains many excellent excerpts from other contemporary accounts of Dutch Guiana.

Pub Date: Sept. 14th, 1966
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World