Edgar Rice Burroughs'
TARZAN AND "THE FOREIGN LEGION"
ART BY JOHN COLEMAN BURROUGHS
Publishing History ~ Summary ~ Cast
Lord Greystoke's Paperback Cover Gallery
No magazine release
ERB, Inc. Tarzana: August 22, 1947 ~ 314 pages
John Coleman Burroughs: DJ and five interiors
Ballantine Books paperback: March 1964 ~ 192 pages
Richard Powers cover
Ballantine Books paperback: September 1977
Boris Vallejo cover
Hendrik van der Meer ~ Sumatran rubber planter
Elsje (Verschoor) van der Meer ~ Hendrik's wife
Corrie van der Meer ~ their daughter, aged 16 at outset
Lum Kam & Sing Tai ~ van der Meer's Chinese servants
Hoesin, Taku Muda, Tian Umar ~ Chiefs of Kampongs (villages)
Capt. Tokujo Matsuo ~ apanese army
Lt. Hideo Sokabe ~ Japanese army
Alam ~ Sumatran native who betrays Corrie
S/Sgt. Joe "Datbum" Bubonovitch ~ Lovely Lady waist gunner, Brooklyn NY
S/Sgt. Tony "Shrimp" Rosetti ~ Lovely Lady ball turret gunner, Chicago IL
Capt. Jerry Lucas ~ Lovely Lady pilot, Oklahoma City OK
RAF Col. [Gp. Cap.] John Clayton
TARZAN of the Apes, Lord Greystoke
Iskandar ~ Corrie's kidnapper
Amat ~ Sumatran collaborationist
Lt. Kumajiro Tada ~ Japanese army, once at University of Oregon
Uglo ~ Orangutan chief
Oju ~ Uglo's rival, fights Tarzan, kidnaps Corrie
Vanda ~ mother of organgutan saved by Tarzan
Tak van der Bos ~ reserve officer imprisoned with Tarzan
Hooft, Hugo, Grotius ~ Dutch outlaws living in jungle
Sarina ~ Eurasian living with Dutch outlaws
Lara ~ native girl
Lt. de Lettenhove ~ Dutch army
Capt. Kervyn van Prins ~ Dutch army
Col. Kanji Tajiri ~ Japanese commanding officer
Keta ~ little monkey friend of Tarzan
S/Sgt. Carter Douglas ~ from Lovely Lady, Van Nuys CA
S/Sgt. Bill Davis ~ from Lovely Lady, Waco TX
2nd Lt. Kenzo Kaneko ~ Japanese army
Alauddin Shah ~ village chief, southern Sumatra
Lt. Cmdr. Bolton ~ submarine commander
Book Blurb Summary
from Ballantine Books
When the American bomber crashed in the jungles of enemy-held Sumatra, the survivors faced the perils of a completely unknown world . . . and the RAF colonel who had flown with them as observer seemed to compound their danger by going mad—stripping to a loincloth and throwing away his weapons except for his knife. But for Colonel John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, the hazards of wild beasts and a remorseless enemy were a familiar and joyously accepted challenge — a chance to return to his true identiy of Tarzan of the Apes. Gathering a motley crew of allies of many nations, Tarzan worked a terrible vengeance on the occupying Japanese, led an epic trek to the coast — to a final ocean rendezvous with enemies human and inhuman.
30 untitled chapters
JOHN COLEMAN BURROUGHS ART GALLERY
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Written in 1944 but not published until 1947 (and with no magazine serialization), this was the last Tarzan book by Edgar Rice Burroughs, penned only a few years before his death. It`s also one of the very best in the entire series.
Stationed as a war correspondent in Hawaii, Burroughs broke with tradition in many ways with this book. Where the preceding dozen novels had become increasingly repetitious and predictable, here there are real surprises. The writing style is crisp, wry, with sharper pacing and neater characterizaton than had been seen in years. With this last book, Burroughs seemed to take a fresh look at his most famous creation and see him from a different angle.
TARZAN AND THE "FOREIGN LEGION" is set on the country-sized island of Sumatra, where the Japanese forces have been terrorizing the natives and massacring the Dutch colonists. On an American bomber doing recon work, our hero is shot down and finds himself stranded abruptly on Sumatra with a handful of Amrican aviators, soon joined by a succulent blonde teenager. On one level, the storyline is the basic plot that had served Burroughs well for many years. Take Tarzan and a few friends, set up some vicious enemies, throw in some bystanders who could go either way, and mix them all in a junlgle full of natural dangers and wild beasts. There`s not exactly a plot as much as there is a succession of escapes and captures, battles and journeys, with good luck and complete disaster taking turns.
But against the basic action-filled narrative line, Burroughs sets the characters interacting with each other in new and insightful ways. He also loved to match up couples who were obviously meant to get together and then make them suffer as they had misunderstandings and tiffs, and he loved to juggle a large cast with wildly differing motivations, but here he does all this more smoothly and convincingly than ever before.
Most significant is that this book reveals many of Tarzan`s secrets and shows him in sharper definition. For the first third of the book, he is known to the other characters (and referred to by the narrator) as Colonel Clayton of the RAF. Obviously, readers know his true identity but it`s still a stunning moment where it`s revealed.
Tarzan drops naked from a tree onto a tiger about to kill his friends and he slays the enormous cat with his knife (as he has done so many times before). Then he lets loose a horrifying nonhuman victory cry and glares at his friends, lost for a moment in his animal nature. They`re frightened and uncertain, until he shakes if off and almost literally turns back into Clayton. It`s a terrific moment, one of the most impressive scenes in the series and it would hit audiences hard if it were put on the screen.
To cap it off, one of the survivors suddenly recognizes him. ("John Clayton," he said, "Lord Greystoke --- Tarzan of the Apes!"), leading a slightly dim comrade to ask, "Is dat Johnny Weismuller?" Later in the story, when his identity is being challenged, a guerilla fighter says, "And there`s the scar on his forehead that he got in his fight with the gorilla when he was a boy." This is surprising and amusing. The genuine Tarzan knows of all the books and Hollywood movies about him, which in some strange way makes him seem more real.
As good as the book is, it does have a few drawbacks. For one thing, whiles Burroughs obviously did some serious research, he has the orang-utans acting like his typical Mangani apes from back in Africa... challenging Tarzan to a death duel, carrying off a nubile young lady for some intended cohabitation. All of this goes way against what we know now about these primates, but that has to be overlooked. And Tarzan seems pretty casual about tackling tigers; it always seemed more impressive when his fights with big cats were desperate, risky last resorts instead of "oh well, another tiger to kill." Actually, it would have been interesting (considering tigers are bigger and faster than lions) if Tarzan had found himself with his hands full. [I have since been informed that the tigers of Sumatra are in fact considerably smaller than the big equivalent cats of India. If you spot any similar factual mistakes or dumb typo errors in these pages, please e-mail me.]
(I personally have always been irritated by Burrough`s way of idealizing animals into pure incarnations of virtue and constantly putting humans down, but I seem to be the only one annoyed by this practice.)
Also, remembering how Burroughs later apologized for his vicious anti-German speeches in earlier books like TARZAN THE UNTAMED, it`s a little sad to find him twenty years later, once again going on about the sub-human `monkeymen` Japanese and how a righteous hatred against the enemy is a noble thing. (The young heroine says, "I have not killed a man, I have killed a Jap." with her face lit up with "a divine light of exaltation.") But it was 1944 and you have to put yourself in that year to see why a writer would say that.
There are other points worth noting. Tarzan here relates how he has not aged, seeming to be in his twenties while actually in his sixties. He tells the story of the grateful witch doctor who gave him the voodoo treatment years ago and he also mentions the more recent Kavuru drug which he and his family share. But Tarzan is realistic enough to realize he`ll inevitably die one way or another. ("Death has many tricks up his sleeve beside old age. One may outplay him for a while, but he always wins in the end.") From that brief scene, Philip Jose Farmer was inspired to tell his own stories of the Apeman, and of the pastiche heroes Lord Grandrith and Doc Caliban.
The rest of the cast is drawn well, if a bit broadly in the WW II multi-ethnic tradition, and the dialogue has a more natural ring to it than in most of the earlier books. The Americans admit they`re scared when facing execution, talk about what war does to people and the nature of hatred, and they all develop emotionally as the story goes on.
In addition to the American aviators of different ethnic and educational backgrounds, there are the toughened Dutch resistance fighters, the heroic young Corrie Van der Meer and the intriguing Sarina, a pirate Eurasian woman descended from headhunters but who sees the light and tries to do the right thing. These people make up the "Foreign Legion", no relation to the famous French Foreign Legion and therefore a bit of a misleading title.
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