Under a surface story than can be read straight for its humor and its vivid action scenes, the author has drawn a series of symbolic confrontations: violence meets pacifism; virtue meets vice; the machine age meets primitive society, and nobody wins hands down. The lugubrious narration is supplied by the Dutch captain of an island tramp ship who unwittingly effects the reintroduction of Lucifer into Paradise. Lucifer is ""Red"", a refugee from the French Foreigh Legion. ""Paradise"" is Christ's Island, a Catholic missionary settlement in Polynesia. Red is a pariah. The captain won him in a poker game to set him free from a rival captain who had ""bought"" him from an Indonesian Communist prison camp. The captain tries to lose him on land, but Red's talent for violent survival gets him chased off the first island. The inhabitants of Christ's Island welcome Red at first, but his near-savage approach to life and love gets him chased back to the captain again. However, when an international naval force arrives to install rockets on the island, Red becomes their one man guerrilla army, destroying equipment, organizing native revolt and nearly wrecking a whole flotilla with the aid of a hurricane. A powerful ending, saved from excess by a wry twist, makes for a man's story with a muscular theme and tone.