Pulp Friday: More late 1960s and 1970s pulp and popular fiction about the Vietnam War

Vietnam Nurse, Avon, 1966

In 2019 I wrote about why it was there were so few examples of Australian and US pulp and popular paperback fiction published in the 1960s and 1970s to engage with the Vietnam War and its consequences. That is, as anything more than a background or reason for why a character was as confused/damaged/homicidal as they were. Even fewer books still were actually set in Vietnam.

The piece in question appeared in the book I coedited, Sticking it to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950 to 1980, but it was excerpted in full on the American site CrimeReads. The piece is here and details the relevant books I did manage to unearth and my speculation for why, despite its relatively huge cultural impact in both Australia and the US, so little fiction was written about the Vietnam conflict during these years.

I have been on the lookout ever since for entries I might have missed in my original piece and thought Pulp Curry Readers might appreciate an update on my, admittedly, rather paltry findings. Most of the books below are American, although a number – The Wine in God’s Anger and the Half-Burnt Tree – were penned by Australian writers. They run the gamut from rather tasteless smut (No Virgins in Cham Ky and Viet Nookie), tabloid-style expose (Vietnam Underside), romance and spy thrillers, to serious books, of which probably the most famous is The Short Timers, first published in 1979, which appears to have been the basis for the 1987 Stanley Kubrick film, Full Metal Jacket.

Anyway, I continue to be on the lookout for additional fiction books and would be interested in hearing from readers about any additional titles they may know. I would also be keen to know more about Morris Hershman who contributed two of the titles below, Glory in Hell and Mission to Hell.

PS. Since posting this on March 4, readers have suggested a number of additional titles, which I have added below.

Nurse in Vietnam, Calvert Books, 1965.
Assignment Cong Hi Kill, Fawcett Gold Medal, 1966
Battle Road, MacFadden Bartell, 1966
Saigon, Award Books, 1966
Vietnam Mission to Hell, Bee Line, 1966
Doomsday Mission, Banner 1967
Glory in Hell, Lancer, 1967
Mission to Hell, Priory Books, publication date unknown
No Virgins in Cham Ky, Greenleaf Classics, 1967
The Bronze Drums, Mayflower, 1967 (originally published in French 1965 in 1965)
Vietnam Underside, Publishers Export, 1967
Suicide Command, Lancer Books, 1967
Suicide Command, Magnum Books, 1967
Battlefield, Paperback Library, 1967
The Wine of God’s Anger, Lansdowne Press, 1968
Count Your Dead, Angus and Robertson, 1968
Count Your Dead, Wren, 1968
Close Combat, Pocket Books, 1969
The LBJ Brigade, Panther, 1967
The Half-Burnt Tree, Readers Book Club, 1970
The Half-Burnt Tree, Mayflower, 1971
Viet Nookie, Greenleaf Classics, 1970
Sand in the Wind, Little Brown, 1973
Take the War to Washington, Panther, 1976
Tears of Autumn, Coronet, 1976
Close Quarters, Heinemann, 1977
Rekill, Pan, 1978
Rekill, Ballantine, 1978
The Short-Timers, Harper & Row, 1979
Vietnam Both Sides, Manor 1979

2 Responses

  1. Hi David, I like your site. I am wondering if there is any tradition of pulp writing/ detective fiction/ espionage writing by SE Asian writers, e.g. Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, in their first language or in English?

    • Hi Walter,

      That is a really good question and something that I have discussed a bit in past posts on this site, such as here:https://www.pulpcurry.com/2012/12/writing-noir-fiction-in-asia/

      Certainly there is in some countries. I think you would find that most Asian countries have a tradition of private investigator fiction. Some, such as India and Japan, certainly have a strong pulp tradition, others less so. I find this a completely fascinating subject and would love to do more work on it down the track, if I could find the time).



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