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Craige, John Houston (c. 1890–?)

Craige, John Houston (c. 1890–?)

U.S. Marine Corps captain John Houston Craige is best known for two books about his service in the Gendarmerie d'Haiti during the Marine occupation (1915–1934): Black Baghdad (1933) and Cannibal Cousins (1934). Writing for a popular audience, he stressed what he considered to be the exotic aspects of Haitian society and culture. His books offer a first-hand account of the occupation, and insight into the experience of U.S. soldiers engaged in Caribbean "banana wars."

By his own account, Craige first visited Haiti in 1912. After joining the Marines during World War I and serving in France, Craige returned to Haiti in 1925 to join the gendarmerie, the Haitian police force staffed with U.S. officers. He served in the mountain village of Hinche and ran a broadcasting station in Port-au-Prince. Craige learned about Haiti by reading works by the French historian Moreau de Saint-Méry (1750–1890), the Hatian historian Thomas Madiou (1814–1884), and the Haitian writer Louis-Joseph Janvier (1855–1911), among others. In his books, Craige describes the interactions between Marines and Haitians and includes many anecdotes about Haitian culture and traditions, providing perceptive if often exaggerated accounts. Generally, Craige supported U.S. efforts to "civilize" Haiti, though he also noted some of their shortcomings.

After returning from Haiti, Craige served as director of public relations for the Marines. He wrote several more books, including What the Citizen Should Know about the Marines (1941), Guide to the United States Armed Forces (1942), and The Practical Book of American Guns (1950).

See alsoHaiti .


Primary Sources

Black Baghdad. New York: Minton, Balch, 1933.

Cannibal Cousins. New York: Minton, Balch, 1934.

Secondary Sources

Renda, Mary A. Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism, 1915–1940. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

                                             Joseph W. Horan

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