Faustin Wirkus & Taney Dudley

VG/VG. Dust jacket moderately chipped along extremities, especially along top of spine. (see photo). Jacket in mylar protecter. Book itself in very nice condition, bright orange with black paper labels. Upper edge of book covers sunned slightly, otherwise very little wear. (Doubleday, Doran & Company / Garden City, 1931). A true First, not a reprint. Signed by Wirkus on front flyleaf. Dust jacket, cover labels & endpapers all strikingly colorful in black, orange & white, showing a line of silhouetted black natives bearing gifts to a large, uniformed Marine, hands on hips, campaign hat cocked forward, in a coastal, tropical setting. Illustrated with numerous photographs, 333 pp.

In the early part of this century, the inhabitants of La Gonave, a sizeable island off the coast of Haiti, possessed a prophecy that their old Emperor Faustin would one day miraculously return to them. So when it happened that, in 1920, during the American occupation, one Sgt Faustin Wirkus USMC was assigned to adminster the affairs of La Gonave, the reigning Queen of La Gonave, Ti Memenne, declared him the reincarnated Emperor Faustin himself and arranged to have him crowned official King of La Gonave in a series of elaborate Voodoo initiations and ceremonies.

Fortunately for all concerned, Sgt Wirkus was a thoroughly decent, charitable & good-humored man with (unlike a majority of the Marines on Haiti, who were notoriously racist), a genuine regard for the black islanders, & he endeavored to wield his considerable authority & influence as judiciously as possible. So while it was that Sgt Wirkus spent the first part of his Haitian duty hunting down caco insurgents along mountainous trails, he spent the latter half settling domestic disputes, importing improved livestock & seed, delivering & doctoring babies, building houses, repairing chimneys & attending (as the sole white man) esoteric native ceremonies.

Excerpt: "‘All the troubles here,' said Queen Ti Memenne, ‘come from over there.' She motioned in a grand way toward the mainland. ‘They do not care for us over there, except to find out just how much we have and take from us every centime, chicken, and goat which we do not need to keep ourselves in food and clothing. You know these people in Port-au-Prince. Cannot you tell us why it is that these strangers come here among us, these collectors and sequestrators, and one will take all he can get and the other the rest? We only know that it has been so for a long time and that if we do not do as they say we will be sent over to the mainland and put in a prison.' I could not make a frank answer to Queen Ti Memenne. It was no business of a sergeant of Marines of the Occupation and a lieutenant of the Gendarmerie d'Haite to be telling a grand lady of these uplands and the most respected grand habitante of La Gonave that she should not pay her taxes to the legally appointed authorities because they were thieves."



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