The following selection, sourced from my collection, is one I’ve wanted to do for a while now – Asian themed pulp paperback covers from the sixties and seventies. These are mainly from the United States with a smattering of Pan Books from the United Kingdom thrown in.
Not surprisingly, given the hysteria generated by the Cold War, the threat posed by the so-called “red menace” is a key theme of most of these titles, such as The Bamboo Screen, the story of an innocent Westerner thrown into “a savage world of spies and Oriental beauty,” a place where “life was cheap and love was a tool”.
Hong Kong was a favoured location for many of the do or die battles with Communism, as can be seen in Assignment Hong Kong and Twelve Hours to Destiny. Operation Hong Kong is one of a number of titles put out by Solider of Fortune magazine in the seventies: “Rainey has to stop Chinese agents from turning Hong Kong into a bloodbath”.
Other popular locations were Vietnam (Simon Harvester’s Battle Road), and jungles of Malaya in Mark Darby’s The Tigress, a place where “death stalked…with a Sten gun in its hands.”
Inscrutable communists were joined a pantheon of other Asian themed villains. These included cannibals (Russell Foreman’s Long Pig – “A handful of men marooned on a remote island where the natives are cannibals and to whom human flesh is LONG PIG!”), human traffickers (The Body Trade), and master criminals. In Singapore Downbeat, PI Mark Corrigan – and his ‘Girl Friday’ Tucker Mclean – is sent on assignment in Singapore to crack a syndicate of gold smugglers lead by the villainous ‘Mr Sin’.
There’s also a couple of titles falling into the category of so-called historical or expose pulp fiction.
In Opium Venture, a young man sent from Bangkok must tame the notorious Salem Princess, “young, lovely and cruel… she trafficked in opium – the black gold that grips the hearts and minds of millions.”
Hong Kong After Dark purports to expose the goings on in the former British colony, “Sin Capital of the East: Half Oriental, Half European – Catering to the Most Bizarre and Exotic Vices of Both”.
Enjoy and if the urge takes you, leave a comment. I’d love to know what you think.