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Dialog of a Veteran Soldier
Diogo do Couto; Timothy J. Coates, trans.; Timothy J. Coates, intro.; M. N. Pearson, pref.

Classic Histories from the Portuguese-Speaking World in Translation

2016 • 236 pp. 11 illus., 5 maps 6 x 9"
World History / History - Spain & Portugal / History - India & South Asia

$19.95 Paperback, 978-1-933227-72-6

A scathing critique of the administrative, military, and political system of Portuguese Asia at the beginning of the seventeenth century

Fraud, scandal, theft of royal funds, official graft, and cover-ups: these are the subjects of the 1612 exposé written by Diogo do Couto in his Dialog of a Veteran Soldier. Couto revealed too much and as a result, this work had to wait more than 175 years until its first publication in 1790. This classic of overseas Portuguese history is a well-known source cited by historians of Portuguese Asia, yet it has remained beyond the reach of a larger audience until this translation—its first into any other language. Couto was never rewarded with any of the prized positions that viceroys and governors (according to him) showered on their underlings. This Dialog is his bitter response. In it, we can see the workings of official and informal administration of Portuguese Asia as well as the numerous remedies Couto suggests to correct these abuses.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“This careful, erudite, and stylish translation of Diogo do Couto’s O Soldado Prático is of signal importance. Known for his chronicles of India, essays, eulogies, and poetry, Couto lived for fifty-five years in Asia as a soldier, a royal officer, an archivist, and a respected citizen who publicly received the viceroys. His pivotal role as both the voice of the Portuguese elite in Goa and agent of the King turns Couto’s critical assessment of the problems of the Estado da Índia into compulsory reading for any student of the Portuguese empire.”—Francisco Bethencourt, Charles Boxer Professor, King’s College London

“Timothy Coates is to be praised for having prepared a long-awaited and impeccable English translation of one of the key texts to understanding the social world of the Portuguese empire in Asia in the early seventeenth century. Myriad ‘veteran soldiers’ existed and even penned similar writings. But Diogo do Couto’s fictional dialogue rests unrivaled. The present edition is the best gift that all those interested in the social history of the Estado da Índia could receive on the occasion of the four-hundredth anniversary of Couto’s death.”—Jorge Flores, professor of early modern global history, European University Institute, Florence

DIOGO DO COUTO (Lisbon, c. 1542–Goa, 10 December 1616) was a Portuguese historian. TIMOTHY J. COATES is professor of history at the College of Charleston. His is the author of Convicts and Orphans: Forced and State-Sponsored Colonizers in the Portuguese Empire, 1550–1755, and the translator of André João Antonil’s Brazil at the Dawn of the Eighteenth Century (Tagus Press, 2012). M.N. PEARSON is Emeritus Professor at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:30:44 -0500