Oh, lord, the memories

The anonymous blogger at HMS Defiant made me laugh out loud this morning when he posted this video montage of the “wisdom” of the legendary Chiun, the Master of Sinanju, from the “Destroyer” series of pulp novels.  It’s an excerpt from the only film made from the series, “Remo Williams:  The Adventure Begins“.

I remember those books very well.  They, along with other pulp series such as Mack Bolan (“the Executioner”), the Survivalist, and others were staples in almost every military base in which I found myself, along with Westerns by Louis L’AmourJ. T. Edson and sundry other writers.  Copies were circulated in barracks around the nation, many of them so worn that pages or entire chapters were missing from the beginning and/or the end.  That often led to constant searching for another copy, one that held the pages one had missed in the first copy one had read!  I daresay almost every military man from my generation has read far more than his fair share of such books.  As literature, they’re eminently forgettable, but as nostalgia, I’m sure all of us are grinning at the memories this clip evoked.

My thanks to the blogger at HMS Defiant.  You made my morning!

(Oh – and for those who want to renew their acquaintance with them, most of the Remo Williams novels are now available in e-book format on Amazon at very low prices.  The first one is free, too.  Go on!  You know you want to!)

Peter

10 comments

  1. Too many years ago I was helping a friend move out of his dorm and I fumbled a box and out spilled pretty much all of the Remo books.

    I read mostly sci-fi/fantasy and he handed them to me and said I’d get a kick out of them. And I did!

    Chuin is still one of my favorite characters. Hard to imagine some other literary badass that will kill you for interrupting his daily soap operas.

  2. I have that movie in my DVD library and I love it!

    My mother was a book whore who had me reading at a 2nd-grade level
    before I even set foot in Kindergarten. I read more books in my
    teens (all of them hand me downs from my mother) than most people
    read in their lives: Classic western literature, Hemmingway,
    Steinbeck, Harold Robins, etc. I read everything she gave to me.

    She was also a fan of the action guy antiheroes. She gave me the
    first Executioner book when I was about 16. She was raving about
    Dirty Harry and Paul Kersey (Death Wish) after she returned from
    a movie theater. Had she lived long enough, she would have wet
    her panties over Jack Bauer! All women want a knight in shining
    armor but she loved the knights in black armor!

  3. Another staple around the barracks 50 years ago were the men’s adventure magazines. The stories were pure BS placed out there as true, but the magazines were everywhere.

  4. Dad was Navy, so in addition to these, he passed on Nicholas Monserrat’s “The Master Mariner” and “The Cruel Sea” and Alistair Maclean’s “HMS Ulysses”, “The Guns of Navarone”, and “Ice Station Zebra”. All recommended. Not as campy as “The Executioner”, but tales of manly men in harm’s way for lofty reasons.

  5. Hey Peter;

    Yeap I read “The Executioner” and “They call me the Mercenary by Axel Kilgore”. To a teenager, the books were full of adventure and killing off communist. They were the good guys saving the world kind of thing although the methods were not always savory. And after I joined up I saw quite a few of those books in the barracks along with the “Soldier of Fortune” magazines and of course the “Girly rags”.

  6. I still laugh at Joel Gray’s portrayal of Master Chiun – thank you for the comic relief. It’s as over-the-top as ‘Cabaret,’ but serves a better cause.

    I recall my dad getting paper bags full of The Destroyer, Mack Bolan, etc., back when I wasn’t old enough or quick enough to borrow and appreciate. I like sysadmin’s recommendation on Alister MacLean, those novels and his other WW II/Cold War spy novels. His writing took a darker an predicable turn, unfortunately, and the ‘reveal’ clues were usually in chapter 2. Simple, easily read action stories with heroes and anti-heroes.

    My mother read MacLean and Jack Higgins, so I picked up both authors; both were far better in their earlier works. Higgins was darker and filled with suspense, but included moments of absolutely brilliant black comedy for protagonist and antagonist.

  7. A couple others are free too, sort the list by price.

    You never know when you’ll be stuck somewhere in need of mindless entertainment. 🙂

  8. “Remo left the door to the hotel room unlocked because if a gang of thieves broke in and attacked the 80 year old Chuin, it was their fault and they had it coming.”

    Ah, the 70’s pulps. Pretty much the same level of writing as the pulp magazines of the 1930’s. A little more explicit about violence and sex….but not a lot. And like the Pulps some of them were gems (The Shadow, The Destroyer) and some of them were drivel.

    I haven’t run into examples of the ’70’s pulps that reached the level of the Noir Detectives of Hammett and Chandler, but I wouldn’t be astonished to learn that they were out there.

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