Tropic Thunder in Suriname, Volume 1 - From Independence to 'Revolution' and Countercoups, 1975-1982

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Sander Peeters
Other Publication Information
Paperback (8.25” x 11.75”), 100 pages, 97 black and white photographs, 48 color photographs, 18 color profiles, 6 maps, 11 tables
Product / Stock #
LatinAmerica@War #31, HEL1198
Company: Helion & Company - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site

The country of Suriname is located on the northeast coast of South America, bordered by Guyana in the west, Brazil to the south, Guyana in the east and Atlantic Ocean to the north, located slightly north of the equator. Suriname is a country of rich natural resources, and the south is sparsely populated with dense rainforests and savannah. The highest peak is 1,280 meters above sea level. Its history dates to the first Arawaks in 7,000-8,000 BC. The Caribs, another Amerindian tribe, invaded in 1,100 AD and drove the Arawaks from their settlements. The war was still ongoing when the first European settlers arrived with the Dutch in 1613. The British and Dutch fought two wars, the result of which was the Treat of Breda in 1667 was the Dutch got to keep Suriname, and the British kept the former Dutch Colony of New Holland. The British renamed it New York.

Surinamese society is a mixture of a wide variety of people from its colonial and indigenous past from a wide variety of cultures and nationalities, including Amazon Indians (Amerindians) descendants of African slaves (Creoles mainly located now in urban areas, and Maroons mainly in bush (rural) areas), India (Hindustanis), Indonesian (Javanese), Chinese and European immigrants. The Dutch author, Sander Peeters, lived in this former Dutch colony with his family from 1987 to 1991. He wrote, “I have experienced no country like it. People from so many races and cultures living together peacefully. It is probably the only country where I have seen a mosque, synagogue, church and Hindu temple in one street, basically next to each other.”

He continues,

Fast forward 30 years… With the internet giving access to a wealth of information to everyone, I have been surprised that the turbulent history of Suriname has barely been discussed on the web and in literature, save for some books and articles that are often printed only in Dutch and usually serve a political agenda or only talk about politics. After discussing our family’s experience in Suriname at the dinner table one day with my parents, my wife remarked that I should write a book about my time there. This is the first of those books…

I, for one, am glad Sander Peeters’ wife convinced him to write this book.

Sander Peeters then delves into Suriname’s history and how the Napoleonic Wars affected the country and world politics, the military forces to protect the colony, the two World Wars (Suriname was one of the very few Dutch territories not occupied by Axis forces during WWII), American involvement to protect Bauxite (Suriname provided about 65% of all aluminum used in Allied aircraft) to Colonial Autonomy to Independence. Surinamese volunteers served in the Netherlands armed forces in Indonesia, Europe in WWII, and in the Korean War.

Volume 1 ends in December1982, after the murder of 15 dissidents, that resulted in Dutch aid being frozen, a mere five years after Suriname was "forced" into independence in 1975 by the Netherlands as part of its "decolonization program". As usual, winning the peace proved difficult, from both external, but primarily internal forces. The transition in Suriname is incredible and best explained by someone who understands the internal workings of the country and has an appreciation for military history.

The book is presented in the @War series format, complete with black and white photographs, color photographs, maps, and a color profile section composing the following six chapters and five appendices:

  1. Overview
  2. From Colony to Constituent State
  3. From Autonomy to Independence
  4. The Sergeantencoup
  5. The Chin A Sen Period
  6. 1982 – A Most Violent Year
  7. Appendix I. Surinamese Population in Suriname and the Netherlands and their Ethnicity
  8. Appendix II. Attempted, Successful and Alleged Coups in Suriname up to 1982
  9. Appendix III. Coup Plotters of the Sergeanten Coup
  10. Appendix IV. The Nationale Militaire Raad (NMR)
  11. Appendix V. 8 December 1982: The December Murders
  12. Conclusion and Closing Thoughts

Modelers will have some obscure subjects to view for motivation. Among the ground vehicles and equipment are the Marmom-Herrington CTMS-1TB1 tank, GMC Otter armored car, 25 pounder 88mm field guns, M1 mortar, YP408KN wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC), Dutch Willys WD Jeep, and M45 Quadmount on M20 trailer. Naval craft include high seas patrol-class boats built by Netherlands De Vries Scheepsbouw company (S402 with its two 40mm Bofors cannons became legendary for its participation in the Sergeanten Coup), and other smaller patrol craft. The aircraft are in the form of a Hughes 369D helicopter, Britten-Norman BN-2B-21, the ubiquitous C-47, Twin Otter DHC-6, and NF-5A (K-3004 has a great story in the caption worth the time to read). If you are a fan of obscure subjects, then there is some inspiration in this book, with different markings.

Sander Peeters was born in Dubai, United Arab Emirates in 1978 to Dutch parents. He became passionate about world history and aviation thanks to his parents traveling around the world. After his time in Suriname (1987-1991), he returned to the Netherlands for high school. After earning his master’s degree in chemical engineering, he followed in his parents’ footsteps and travelled the world, working in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and North America. He currently lives in Western Canada as a construction manager. He has stated that this is the first of three books on Suriname and, I for one, look forward to the following two books.

Profuse thanks to Casemate and IPMS-USA for providing the review sample.


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