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The Bigger They Are, The Bigger The Headache: The Proxemics Of Scale


I’ve been thinking a lot about the size of creatures lately, because it seems to me that size poses unexpected problems for the GM.

This is a subject that’s been at the back of my mind for years, ever since it was pointed out to me that Dragons are never as tough as they are made out to be because the PCs can easily surround the creature, spreading out to attack it multiple times in a round, while it can only target one or – at most – two PCs.

One player that I know of refers to them as Mobile Caches, and invested quite a lot of effort back in my second AD&D campaign keeping track of them so that if he ever got short of cash and magic, he could stop by and make a withdrawal.

My response to this particular problem has always been to enhance Dragons, making them a lot tougher. And, in terms of this specific problem, this solution works. But, a while back, it became clear that this was just part of a larger problem.

The Scales Of Giantism

Take a look at the illustration above, generated specifically for this article. It illustrates two scales of Giant.

The large standing figure is what most D&D / Pathfinder players will think of as a Giant. The PCs, at full stretch, might be able to reach it’s knees. The shoe illustrates a situation that arouse in an offshoot of my superhero campaign, in which a very large robot was attacking one of the PCs, triggering a conflict with all of them; in the actual game, I used an old boot to give scale to the enemy, but the running shoe illustrates the situation perfectly adequately. The PCs can’t even reach the top of the foot without climbing. This is the scale of the Giants in Gulliver’s Travels, the scale of Galactus in the Comic Marvel Universe (as opposed to the rather silly ‘cloud’ from the second Fantastic Four movie).

The more I contemplated these two situations, the more problems became apparent (even completely ignoring the cube-square law which says that the first is only marginally-plausible and the second completely impossible).

The show is also roughly the size of a whole Dragon, which is why this particular illustration is so useful as a discussion tool.

Not The Same As People Scaled Large

People are used to having a certain amount of space around them. When something invades that space, we get uncomfortable. The study of this and related phenomena is called Proxemics. The cultural anthropologist who coined the term described four zones of intimacy:

A chart depicting Edward T. Hall's interpersonal distances of man, showing radius in feet and meters, by WebHamster - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A chart depicting Edward T. Hall’s interpersonal distances of man, showing radius in feet and meters, by WebHamster – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

  • Intimate distance: for embracing, touching or whispering
    • Close phase – less than 6 inches (15 cm)
    • Far phase – 6 to 18 inches (15 to 46 cm)
  • Personal distance: for interactions among good friends or family
    • Close phase – 1.5 to 2.5 feet (46 to 76 cm)
    • Far phase – 2.5 to 4 feet (76 to 122 cm)
  • Social distance: for interactions among acquaintances
    • Close phase – 4 to 7 feet (1.2 to 2.1 m)
    • Far phase – 7 to 12 feet (2.1 to 3.7 m)
  • Public distance: used for public speaking
    • Close phase – 12 to 25 feet (3.7 to 7.6 m)
    • Far phase – 25 feet (7.6 m) or more.

Even beyond personal contact, which is the context into which the diagram, and the definitions, have been framed, there are psychological effects of confinement, i.e. the removal of space. Prison Cells which invade the “personal space” are generally considered cruel and unusual punishment; invading the Intimate Distance is the equivalent of being confined in a coffin or torture device. Most two-person cells enable the inmates to be separated by Social Distances; anything less is believed to produce hostility and conflict in the long term.

Problems come when we scale these distances up with increased size for larger creatures, like Dragons and Giants. Not only does this require these creatures to inhabit extraordinarily size-y spaces, they provide ample room for that spread-out-and-surround tactic. It feels psychologically comfortable to us because we apply human perceptions to the scaled images. This is a huge mistake to make, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Take a look at animal enclosures at a well-run Zoo. You’ll find that each species has a different standard of personal space. Dogs, for example, have no problem living in a Kennel that would clearly intrude on personal space if it were scaled for a human – provided they are completely closed up within it. Domestic Housecats like to have a lot of space around themselves, but are fine in far tighter confinement. Lions, on the other hand, need a lot of space. Mice are happy in tighter confines again, as are some species of snake.

The lesson here is that humanoids are not human, and human scales of what is comfortable need not apply. As for Dragons, they aren’t even humanoid. They might be as comfortable, or even more comfortable in what would be a tightly-confined space for a human scaled to Dragon-sized. After all, head and tail are usually described as flexible, even sinewy, more like snakes than human arms and legs.

Does a dragon really need all that room? A hastily-sketched image but it illustrates the point.

Does a dragon really need all that room? A hastily-sketched image but it illustrates the point.

Part of the problem is that Dragons do need a lot of room to spread their wings, and providing that room comes reasonably close to the human comfort zone. Another is that the “hoard” has to take up an impressive amount of space. But Dragons are intelligent – is it really worth being left so vulnerable just to be able to spread your wings indoors? Any chamber with a doorway large enough for the Dragon to squeeze through is good enough.

Another element of the problem are those really impressive miniatures that you can buy these days. They really look fantastic – but they are immobile. To some extent, you get a better representation tactically by having a separate figure of some sort to represent the head and a long strand of licorice or “killer python” confectionery for the tail and neck. This gives them the mobility that they should have.

“Smaller” Giants

I often find it useful as a referee to convert things back to the human scale. If you were the giant, what might those lilliputians be able to do to you? With the smaller giants, the analogy would be of some species of animal that doesn’t leap very well, but that stands about a foot off the ground or thereabouts. A great cat – a small leopard or tiger – with something wrong with a hind leg (preventing the leap) is fairly close to a group of PCs with swords slashing away at the target. Unable to reach the vital torso area directly, it’s first combat objective has to be to get the target down to its level – to hamstring it. Once that happens, the vitals become accessible, and the target can be killed – but it would be extremely rare for this to be as a result of direct damage; instead it would be by blood loss.

I referee accordingly. I don’t care how much damage the PCs do, they aren’t going to kill a giant outright, critical hits perhaps excepted; instead, I translate the effects that their damage would do, and base my interpretations of the effects of their strikes accordingly. To a certain extent, this requires disregarding the number of hit points that the Giant might have. In theory, I’m apply scaling to the weaponry of the PCs. A sword that might penetrate a foot does in no more than an inch, probably less. If the giant is 30′ tall, that’s a scaling of about five times – so ten points of damage becomes the equivalent of 1/5th that, or about 2 points. But that’s too much work, a lot of the time, so I do it more by instinct than by maths.

After all , while “divide by five” is easy maths, “divide by 6.75” isn’t.

The reverse scaling should also apply – if the giant dishes out what would be ten points to another of its kind, that becomes more like 50 points when applied to a human-sized PC. That usually seems excessive, however, so I only half-scale it – 25 points. By ignoring the numbers and translating the rolls in this way, I sacrifice some mechanical verisimilitude and rules fidelity for a better look-and-feel to the game.

“Bigger” Giants

And so, to the really big giants. These don’t happen very often in fantasy gaming, but do come along from time to time in Superhero games – anything that’s more than ten times scale, or 50′ in height, becomes a candidate. Take that shoe on the accompanying illustration: Most figures are at roughly 5′ to the inch, i.e. a 5′ person would be represented by a figure that’s about an inch tall. Most shoes are roughly a foot in length, perhaps a little more or less. That’s 12 inches – so a shoe on the battlefield is representative of a creature of scale 12, or between 60 and 75′ tall.

How do creatures that are no more than an inch off the ground inflict serious, potentially lethal, damage to a human? Poisons, or burrowing into vitals, or swarming over like army ants. Anything less can inflict harm – perhaps even enough to knock a creature of this size off its footing.

Let’s contemplate a couple of weapons, and apply the scaling principle. A sword would be about half an inch in equivalent length – less than a nail, more than a thumbtack. But most strokes wouldn’t go all the way to the hilt, so the thumbtack is roughly right. How much damage does a thumbtack do when you drop one on your unprotected foot? Nothing. It takes the mass of the person to inflict the damage.

Should clothing thickness scale? Ordinary leather/cloth would be like tissue paper to a creature of this size. Something much thicker and toucher would be logical – say Rhinoceros Hide. That is, according to Wikipedia, somewhere between 1.5 and 5 cm thick – call it between six-tenths and two inches thick, or average it to a simple one-inch thick. This is going to be a LOT more protective than ordinary leather armor, and the sword has to get through that in order to do any damage to the flesh of the giant (it only gets worse when you’re talking giant robots).


The thickness – at it’s thinnest point – of a human leg is an inch or two above the ankles. Mine are about 3 1/4 inches thick, front to back, and about an inch-and-a-half across. Scaling that by twelve gives 3’3″ x 1’6″ across. The bone at that point is a little over an inch thick – scaled, that’s about 13″ thick.

That’s not a leg – it’s a tree-trunk with a stone column in the center, wrapped in an inch-thick sheet of foam rubber and leather, which in turn is wrapped in a foot of cured leather. A sword might pierce all the way through, but the right tool for this sort of job is an axe (or better yet, a chainsaw). Chop a hole in that foot-thick hardened rhinoceros hide. You’d be lucky to take less than ten minutes – that’s thicker than the logs they chop in competitive axe trials, and those guys are easily three times as fast as your ordinary tree-feller. And ignoring the possibility of having to get through battleship-plate metal armor. But, assuming that you do, without – miracle of miracles – blunting your axe, you then have to do it again to get through the giant’s flesh to reach the bone. At which point a sledgehammer (or jackhammer!) is the tool of choice for actually breaking that bone. All while the owner is fighting back.

Quite frankly, you’ve got as much chance as a been has of stinging through steel-capped work-boots – unless it manages to get itself INTO the boot, it’s not going to happen, not in time to do you any good.

Okay, so now you’re a PC, in charge of bringing this brute down – how to do it?

Step One: Ranged weapons and magic aimed at the eyes to blind it. Step two: when it can no longer see what you are doing, everyone grabs the heaviest rope that you can manhandle between you – the sort used to tie ships up to docks or anchors, about 3 inches thick, and weighing probably 60 pounds a foot – and, moving as fast as you can, wrap it around is feet while he is groping in the direction he thought you were. Step 3: Once you trip him, go for the underarms or neck and try to find a way inside the armor to a vital point – probably the neck, assuming something the equivalent of a jugular. If not, there are other, similar blood vessels – if you know where to find them. It won’t be easy – the equivalent of using an axe in a broom closet – but it should be doable. Then Step 4, back off, take cover, and wait for blood loss to do the job for you. Total elapsed time: probably ten minutes, game time.

Until you actually think of it in scale, you can’t appreciate the scale of the problem, or find the solutions. And that’s true of every really-big creature, or its robotic equivalent. But it makes a great story afterwards!

Content Bonus!

I thought people might be interested in the map that I generated for the main illustration that accompanies this article, minus the distortion caused by the 3D rotation, and the tiles that I created to build it from. So here they are:


Yes, the original version was a lot bigger – in fact, even the hexgrid tiles below are slightly reduced in size, and the original image was 7000 pixels tall. But it was just too slow to edit it – 5 minutes for each of the shadows? 5 minutes each time one of the figures had to be resized? Of necessity, I had to reduce the size, first to 2400 pixels, then to 1000, and finally to this 281×550 image.





Just right-click on the image you want to save it.

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Essential Reference Library for Pulp GMs (and others): 5th Shelf


Finally, it’s done! This has turned into the largest single post ever published by Campaign Mastery, and by a huge margin.

So, what happened? Well, when the initial blowout took place I calculated, based on the Europe results, that I could expect to have to add another 216 entries or so, at an average of four-point-six in each section. I then divided the list of extras in two – half for last week’s post, and half for this week. Last week’s post was used to test the validity of the original estimates, and they seemed to track fairly well.

Because a full quarter of the list of entries were already done, just needing some copy-and-paste work, I had reasonable expectations of being able to post this article on time, especially since I devoted most of my Tuesday, and half of my Wednesday, to getting an early start. I predicted that sometime Thursday night or Friday, it would be all systems go.

On Tuesday I did the basic structure, the introductions, and populated the Caribbean section. The goal Wednesday was to do China, leaving the rest of Asia to happen on Thursday, and the balance on Friday. And, if there had been four-point-six entries per subsection, that schedule would have been achieved.

Came Friday Night, and I was only just getting to Africa; Asia had seen quite a blowout in entries. On top of that, I kept thinking of sub-sections and whole sections that had been overlooked, and extending the list. And then Saturday came and went, and then Sunday Morning. It’s now 4AM Monday Morning, and the words – aside from this sidebar – are done.

Almost every category and subcategory have blown out. Instead of 104 recommendations, this list contains 270. Instead of being about 18000 words, a third of which were already written, it now contains more than 36,000 – plus HTML code that carries it past the equivalent of 43,000 words. That’s almost 8000 words a day – when my usual average is forty-five hundred.

So the post may be late – but I haven’t been wasting my time. Without further ado, here are the contents of the Fifth Shelf…

The Fifth Shelf: The Stranger Places – Introduction by Mike

In these days of sat-nav, when virtually every inch of the planet’s surface has been photographed and mapped to within an inch, it can be hard to appreciate the impact of not knowing. Even the iron curtain fell, and the soviet union not long after, and people can now tour Russia and China in relative impunity. Relations between Cuba and the US have thawed and are beginning to stabilize. The only place that even comes close to presenting the facade of mystery that was once so prevalent is North Korea, and even that is but a shadowy reflection of the great unknowns of the past.

It wasn’t like that in the Pulp Era. Like the age of Steam that preceded it, the world could be divided into three categories: the places that were well known, the places that the average person might know a little about, but which would still be strange and exotic, and the places where anything might exist, and wonders remained to discover. Only the number, size, and shape of those unknowns had changed.

Some places had recently undergone intensive exploration and discovery just prior to the pulp era, and the discoveries of Ancient Egypt (and, to a lesser extent), the Incas and Mayans retained a grip on the imagination of the common man that lingers to this day.

These places of mystery are the subject of this shelf of the reference library, and so far as they are concerned, the GM is in an incredibly privileged position. Not only can he draw upon all the modern knowledge of these places of mystery, he can ignore, edit, and rewrite that modern knowledge as he sees fit, in the name of excitement and adventure.

Not that being unknown stopped the writers of the past, who populated these unknown regions with all sorts of strange things. Not being constrained by reality, they were free to invent all manner of strangeness – and many did so. Some of these strangest places of all were advanced as serious – if fringe – theories, and some of those have since been found to have a grain of truth. Others seem to be total and utter mythology.

Things are complicated still further by the fact that these were amongst the least politically-stable locations of the twentieth century. That places information about the way they are at arm’s length to the way they were, further marginalizing the value of modern reference materials.

When I was a child, one of my relatives had a board game that included a world map. I don’t remember the game’s name, or how to play; what I remember is speculating endlessly about what might be in these strange places that I had never heard of before, And that was in the early-yo-mid-70s, and despite being very well-read for my age at the time. The place names alone held an aura of wonder. Khartoum. Cairo. Constantinople. Istanbul. Nepal. Bermuda.

In the Pulp Era, that mystique should not only be alive and well, the reality should mirror it – rather than reflecting the more-prosaic reality that has been uncovered. These are places where one can step into the looking glass.

Relevance to other genres

“Sense Of Wonder” is something that most genres try very hard to manifest, whether it be the alien in a sci-fi environment or the fantastic in a fantasy existence. While prosaic reality makes an essential foundation to provide some point of connection for the truly bizarre, necessary for players to interact with them, these places provide the foundations for the only-slightly-less-strange, and many can be imported more-or-less whole. So the people who live in this desert are insectoid, humanoid-ant-people? That doesn’t make the Bedouin any less a great cultural role model, modified if necessary for the caste-system of an anthill.

The results are too outré for a wild west campaign. Anything and everything else that I can think? It would fit right in.

old globe and books

image credit: / Philip A.

Shelf Introduction

There is a particular difficulty involved in stocking this shelf, for the most part: the relevance of books about the reality is at its most marginal, while books about what might be there tend to be few and far between, and mostly focus on the local mythology – which goes in an entirely separate shelf of the library.

The only real solution is to present the reality of those places that are undeniably real, with the advice that this should be just the beginning, a jumping-off point – and that GMs should unlimber their creativity. Style and Flavor are at least as important as facts when it comes to these places; be true to the style and flavor, and you can twist and distort the facts as necessary.

There are 14 sections on this shelf:

The Caribbean Some of the most picturesque waters on earth are to be found around the islands. It’s harder to do these days, but in the Pulp Era it was entirely conceivable that an entirely uninhabited piece of land could be discovered, a tiny speck never seen before. The Caribbean is home to more than 700 islands, islets, reefs, and cays. Four of the most iconic get dedicated subsections: Bermuda, Haiti, Cuba, and The West Indies / Jamaica.

Asia There is hardly a single location in the Asian area that has not been transformed in one way or another in the course of the middle- and later-twentieth century. Our recurring theme was to be rather confined in the choices of what to recommend. Even the most politically-stable countries in the region, like India, have undergone massive changes.

Africa excluding Egypt Most of the great explorations of the African Continent took place in the 19th century or even earlier, but to most people, much of Africa was still a mystery. At the same time, for each of the African nations, the 20th century contained at least one period of turbulent, blood-soaked revolution in which that nation changed quite radically. Most of what might apply today certainly does not have any validity to a pulp world, so we have tended to be very restrained and judgmental in our approach to this content.

The Middle East A region which has changed dramatically since the 1930s in terms of its politics and the cultures of different nations. A huge proportion of anything relevant to real tourists – which is what you mostly expect to find – will be completely irrelevant to a pulp setting. As such we have been both harshly judgmental in choosing content for this section, and have limited ourselves to the one major nation within the region – Turkey, and the city that traditionally stands at the crossroads between East and West, Istanbul.

Egypt & Egyptology – There is good reason why the heart of the first Indiana Jones movie centered around Egypt. While the greatest age of discovery in the area took place before World War I, fascination with the exotic architecture of Ancient Egypt and its treasures endures to this day. It is easily the best-known part of Africa, by a margin of hundreds-to-one. We have deliberately restrained ourselves in this section. Of course, adding Pulp sensibilities to this already iconic setting only makes it more exotic!

The Atlantic Something of an afterthought, we confess. The North Atlantic in Winter is subject to some of the most hostile weather conceivable on a regular basis, at least in comparison to the rather more placid Pacific. There have been suggestions that this ‘trapped’ Europe’s explorers for centuries, prompting them to turn their attention to the African continent – but the lateness in history of exploration of Africa beyond the northernmost regions casts considerable doubt on this theory in our opinion. At this point, we aren’t sure what we’ll find for this section – it may even be empty. But we’re going to look, and recommend the best of what we find.

The Bermuda Triangle – In the real world, this alleged phenomenon has largely been debunked and discredited. In a pulp universe, don’t place any bets either way.

Antarctica Underneath the snow and ice of the coldest region of the world there is a for-real continent. If we could only excavate, who knows what fossilized remains might be discovered? Even today, exploration of Antarctica is difficult, dangerous, and has barely begun. We don’t expect to have many entries in this section.

The Arctic Rather better known is The Arctic – but in the pulp era it was far from certain that there wasn’t land beneath the ice. Most educated scholars didn’t think there was, but couldn’t be certain. Only explorations beneath the ice shelf by submarine established reasonably conclusively that it was free-floating.

The Hollow Earths – We’ve labeled this category Earths, plural, because there are so many conflicting and competing versions of the broader concept of a green and viable environment under the Earth’s surface. Many legends have these accessible through the poles, but recent discoveries of the extent and complexity of the Mexican cave/underground river systems suggest that this may be a viable alternative. (We looked for, but didn’t find, any books on that subject while doing the Mexico section of the last shelf). But Mike is going to look again, so who knows?

Lost Cities & Civilizations – As unreal as Hollow Earths and Bermuda Triangles might be in real life, these are completely real – well, almost completely – but are often given a quick touch-up with a fresh coat of paint for Pulp purposes. The real things are just the starting point!

Atlantis, Mu, & Lemuria – And, speaking of Lost Cities & Civilizations, the most controversial ones of them all deserves this category of their own.

Picturesque Places – We may or may not have anything in this category, which was originally created to hold a single item that has had to be relegated to Honorable Mentions. But Mike is looking for alternatives to recommend and hasn’t yet finished the hunt, so there may be a last-minute inclusion.

Strange & Exotic Places – As if the places listed above weren’t strange or exotic enough, we have this final catch-all category for a few leftovers that didn’t quite fit elsewhere, or that fitted multiple categories. Within this miscellanea, there is a dedicated subsection devoted to Florida’s Coral Castle. It won’t surprise us if many of you have never heard of this place. The Coral Castle is a limestone structure created by Latvian-American eccentric Edward Leedskalnin in Florida, supposedly single-handedly by using… well, accounts vary. Anti-gravity, Reverse Magnetism, Telekinesis… somehow, if the myths are to be believed, he was able to move and shape numerous stones weighing many tons, over a period of 28 years, starting in 1923. In 1936, he moved the entire thing ten miles a process that took only three years. No-one knows for sure how he did it, since there is no record of trucks or heavy equipment being used. When asked, Leedskalnin would only say that he “understood the laws of weight and leverage well.”

A Recurring Note On Images:

Wherever possible, we have provided an illustration showing the cover of the book or DVD under discussion scaled to the same vertical size (320 pixels for Recommended Books, 280 for DVDs, 250 for items in the ‘For Dummies’ Sections). Where there was none available, we have used a generic icon.

NB: Prices and Availability were correct at the time of compilation but are subject to change.


Books About The Caribbean


Spacer 311-caribbean-the-islands

311 Caribbean: The Islands – Donald Nausbaum

The only photographic album of the Caribbean that we are recommending, this is a record of the author’s photographic journey through the islands over a period of years, and the results seem comprehensive, encompassing islands from the well-known (Trinidad, Jamaica) to the relatively obscure (The Grenadines). New copies of this 168-page book will set you back $45, but used copies start at just $10.


312. A Concise History of the Caribbean – B W Higman

This is our second choice of history books covering the region; the one that looked the most promising was too expensive (you’ll find it – eventually- in Honorable Mentions). But the margins were small, and this 374-page “concise history” will have to do. Kindle and Paperback.


313. Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-1914 (1st Edition) – J R McNeill

While this book stops short of the pulp era, this book’s premise – exploring the links between ecology, disease, and international politics in the societies of the Greater Caribbean – sounds too useful in understanding the place to ignore. The hardcover is completely out of reach at $90+, but there are Kindle Editions and 26 used copies of the paperback from $15 – and, when they run out, new copies of the paperback can be almost as affordable at $22.


314. National Geographic Traveler: The Caribbean, Ports of Call and Beyond – Emma Stanford and Nick Hanna

Ports of call “both large and small on islands throughout the Caribbean” are detailed in this travel guide. We expect limited utility from the book in terms of material relevant to the Pulp GM, and the price is quite high – but it also seems to be amongst the best of the broader travel guides to the region. Both used and new copies are available for about $17, and Amazon’s price of $22.51 is comparable once P&H are taken into account.


315. Caribbean (DK Eyewitness Travel Guides) – Theresa Storm and James Henderson with photographs by Linda Whitwam, Nigel Hicks, and Demetrio Carrasco

This much-cheaper guide might have been our first choice were it not for some specific problems identified in the customer reviews: “Coverage is superficial even for a guide covering the whole Caribbean. The section on Bonaire had all three ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) jumped into one mess rather than having separate sections for each island.” “Does not include Southern Caribbean! Aruba, Curacao, etc.”. “I guess the Bahamas and Bermuda are not in the Caribbean…” Those three reports were enough to give us pause. On the other hand, a superficial guide might make it easier to invent the rest, which you would want to do for a Pulp flavor, anyway. It was the reported omissions that really detracted from our appraisal. On top of that, the description seems to focus more heavily on tourist activities than on things to see and experience – “Spotlights the Best Places (their capitalization) to dive, snorkel, sail, and play golf”. There is a newer edition that sounds rather more promising – but is a lot more expensive. In the hope that much of the content of the newer edition was also present in the older one, simply not being highlighted by the publishers, we’re including links to both.

2009 edition (much cheaper):

2016 edition (pictured, more expensive – but still cheaper than the National Geographic offering):



316. Caribbean Houses: History, Style, and Architecture – Michael Connors

If only a book like this were available for everywhere – we would happily have included them as standard entries in each subsection! “a lavishly illustrated account of the development of historically significant houses in the West Indies.” “The book is divided into five chapters, one for each European heritage: the Spanish Antilles, the Dutch Leewards, the English Islands, the French Lesser Antilles, and the Danish Virgin Islands.” “Authoritative text sheds light on the area’s … architectural and interior design history and gives the reader a unique view of houses that combine the tradition of European styles with the vernacular island forms and decorative motifs.” By not focusing only on modern buildings, this also sheds light on what the buildings would have been like at other points in history – including the Pulp Era.


317. Pirates: The True and Surprising Story of the Pirates of the Caribbean – Patrick Auerbach

You can’t talk about the Caribbean without discussing the most famous class of residents ever to call it home. This book, published in January this year, seems to avoid the myths and clichés from Hollywood, just as the title suggests. At a mere 82 pages, however, we have some concerns as to its depth and value for money. Kindle and Paperback.


318. Caribbean Currents: Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae, Revised Edition – Peter Manuel with Kenneth Bilby and Michael Largey

We almost didn’t include this book, fearing that there would be little content of value to the Pulp GM. Once again, guidance came from the customer comments more than any of the “official” reviews or description: “We know that much of the world’s contemporary is influenced by Africa and the Americas, but maybe you don’t realize how much of the old music was influenced by colonialism, how Cuban music ended up in Baroque music of the 1600’s … for example.” Which convinced us that this was a comprehensive guide that would encompass the pulp era and not simply be about the modern day, musical culture having changed so radically since that time. New copies start at $22 but used copies are more affordable.


319. Peoples and Cultures of the Caribbean: An Anthropological Reader (1st Edition) – Michael M Horowitz

Unless you’re silly enough to buy a new copy of this 1971 book, copies are surprisingly affordable. The thinness of the description leads one to expect a pamphlet or thin booklet at best, an impression reinforced by Amazon’s generic “cover image”. A glance at the details reveals otherwise: this is 606 pages and published by the Natural History Press, who have a reputation for publishing reasonably solid references.


320. Contemporary Caribbean Cultures and Societies in a Global Context – Edited by Franklin W Knight and Teresita Martinez-Vergne

We were very back-and-forth on the inclusion of this book. It could be absolutely brilliant and insightful, or it could be totally academic and entirely too modern-day to hold any relevance to the pulp GM. Quite frankly, we weren’t – and aren’t – sure. So we are listing it anyway, and quoting Amazon’s description in full:

“The Caribbean ranks among the earliest and most completely globalized regions in the world. From the first moment Europeans set foot on the islands to the present, products, people, and ideas have made their way back and forth between the region and other parts of the globe with unequal but inexorable force. An inventory of some of these unprecedented multi-directional exchanges, this volume provides a measure of, as well as a model for, new scholarship on globalization in the region.

“Ten essays by leading scholars in the field of Caribbean studies identify and illuminate important social and cultural aspects of the region as it seeks to maintain its own identity against the unrelenting pressures of globalization. These essays examine cultural phenomena in their creolized forms – from sports and religion to music and drink – as well as the Caribbean manifestations of more universal trends – from racial inequality and feminist activism to indebtedness and economic uncertainty. Throughout, the volume points to the contending forces of homogeneity and differentiation that define globalization and highlights the growing agency of the Caribbean peoples in the modern world.”

In terms of illuminating the processes that have resulted in everything from Reggae to Vodou, this could be absolutely brilliant. Or it could be completely irrelevant. Make up your own minds. New copies are expensive at $26+, used copies start at $7.40, and there is a $14 Kindle edition.

Books about The West Indies

The West Indies comprise three separate subregions of the Caribbean: The Lesser Antilles, the Greater Antilles, and the Lucayan Archipelago. In some contexts, it can also be synonymous with the entire Caribbean Basin, and even areas with a cultural connection beyond mere Geography – the West Indies cricket team includes members from Guyana, which is actually part of South America. The Greater Antilles includes the Cayman Islands, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico; The Lesser Antilles comprises 24 nations; and the Lucayan Archipelago includes the Bahamas.

Several of these have been given dedicated sub-sections; these are books about the area generally, or about the rest.


321. A Short History Of The West Indies (Fourth Edition) – J H Parry, Philip Sherlock, and Anthony Maingot

Amazon only list the first of the authors and provide virtually no information about the contents of this book. The information that sold us on including this work comes from one of the customer comments: “This is a very readable history of the islands in the Caribbean. There also is some supporting discussion of mainland British colonies. The material generally is informative and the writing generally is reasonably good.

“Probably the major advantage of this book compared to alternatives is the solid discussion of the political development of the islands in a way that is easy to follow and remember. With so many disparate islands being discussed, it is easy to get lost. The discussion clearly distinguishes between the larger and smaller islands and that makes it all clear.”

There are some drawbacks regarding typographic errors and authorial stylistic changes partway through the book, but those don’t detract from the clear value of the book to the Pulp GM.


322. The West Indies and the Spanish Main – James Rodway

The first of two books by the same name by different authors. We know next to nothing about this particular one except the title and author and the fact that it is an old book that has been reprinted by scanning the old text. From the single customer review, we can see that it’s a history of the region, and that the reviewer thought it was well-written. This book is only 114 pages in length, so there is no chance that the two titles refer to the same book. There are only just enough copies to clear our minimum requirements but those tend to be on the cheap side, and the Kindle edition is free. There appears to be no contents page.


323. The West Indies and the Spanish Main – Anthony Trollope

“British Postal Service employee and successful Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope sailed aboard the Atrato from the English port of Southampton to Kingston, Jamaica, in November, 1858 to survey land and conclude treaties in the West Indies and Central America for the English government. In the course of his extended sojourn, he also wrote a book — not about official business but rather about the islands he visited and the people he met; about breathtaking landscapes, exotic foods, the tropical climate, earthquakes, Panamanian railroads, Cuban cigars, racial hierarchies, and colonial customs.” 1858 is, of course, quite a distance removed from the Pulp Era – some sixty years, in fact – but colonial subjects like the West Indies changed relatively little in that time, and a lot of the content will remain useful to the Pulp GM, especially for flavor content. This book is 384 pages long – hence the certainty that this is not the same as that previously listed.


324. Pirates of the West Indies – Clinton Black

To look at the cover, you might think this is a children’s book. It’s not; it is, instead, a short book (144 pages) published by Cambridge University Press, providing a “concise history of the lives of ten of the most important pirates of the Caribbean Region” that “sheds new light on popular notions of piracy and stereotyped conceptions”. There are lots of cheap copies, both hardcover and paperback.


325. Insight Guide to the Caribbean and the Lesser Antilles

The Lesser Antilles are a chain of tropical islands that stretch from the Virgin Islands to Trinidad and Aruba. This travel guide lists a number of landmarks that would have existed and made great specific locations in a Pulp Campaign such as the Brimstone Hill Fortress in St Kitts.

We liked the promise of “descriptive place-by-place accounts” and the promise of “detailed high-quality maps”.

While this book is 368 pages, it also comes with an app that delivers the information like Hotel Recommendations and prices that are subject to change – and are of no interest to the Pulp GM; we hope that this means that this space-filler has been excluded from the text itself, leaving a greater preponderance of useful material.

This book has only been released last month, so it is very new, but already Amazon has almost sold out of it, having only 15 copies left in stock – but it would be cheaper to buy from one of the third-party vendors, anyway. The misspelling of “Antilles” on the cover is a bit of a concern, though.

Books about Bermuda



326. Fodor’s Bermuda Travel Guide

We have two travel guides to discuss that focus on this famous resort destination – because we could not choose between them. Choice number one is Amazon’s best-selling travel guide to Bermuda, available in two different editions – a 2014 one of 240 pages, and the 2016 edition of 224 pages. We always find shorter page counts to be a concern. That said, these do look to be excellent guides to more than the usual tourist traps and activities – not that Bermuda, at just over 20 square miles, has all that much room for anything more.

2014 edition (pictured, much cheaper, Kindle and Paperback):
2016 edition (more expensive & shorter):


327. Moon Bermuda

Usually, we prefer books written by a local resident. Moon’s guide to Bermuda is just such a book, and at 368 pages, it’s getting close to double the length of Fodor’s. That means a lot more content. Time-wise, this fits right in between the two editions of Fodor’s. Counterbalancing those advantages is the book’s description, which seems a lot more tourist-oriented, and the excerpt provided on getting Married in Bermuda, which is full of wonderfully-useful detail – for a campaign set in the modern day. Price-wise, this sits in-between the two editions of Fodor’s as well – and therein lies the rub: we can’t tell, from the information provided, how much of the content is relevant, but the topic is too minor (in pulp terms) to recommend buying both. So we leave the buying decision in the hands of the reader.

Books About Haiti

Haiti was devastated in 2010 by an Earthquake that was just the latest in a string of political, social, and economic disasters. There are a number of scathing books about the relief efforts and the impact of corruption and vested political & religious agendas in the aftermath. Even before this tragic event, Haiti was synonymous with political instability; Mike can remember the statement “It’s Wednesday, there must be a coup in Haiti” seeming both accurate and withering in the early 80s or 90s. All of which makes it very difficult to find books whose content is not contaminated by post-pulp events.


328. Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of US Imperialism, 1915-1940 – Mary A Renda

In 1915, the US invaded Haiti and began a military occupation that would last for nineteen years. This explores what Americans thought and wrote about Haiti in that period, which completely overlaps the Pulp era. It’s that direct relevance that elevates this book over the broader history below.


329. Haiti: The Tumultuous History from Pearl of the Caribbean to Broken Nation – Phillippe Girdard

This book explores the cumulative effects of multiple failed attempts by the US to create a stable democracy in Haiti, coupled with the legacies of colonialism and slavery dating back to the War Of Independence (1791-1804) and the ever-present poverty of “The poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere” have created the political instability for which Haiti is renowned, painting a portrait of a population caught in a trap, an endless cycle of corruption, revolution, and failure.


330. Haiti in Focus: A guide to the People, Politics, and Culture

The description of this book makes it clear that it looks beyond the popular perceptions of Haiti to the real people and culture, and adds to the themes of the book listed above in the process. The best guide to the populace of Haiti and their culture that we could find.


331. Haiti (Bradt Travel Guide)- Paul Clammer

This 2013 book claims to be the only stand-alone guidebook on Haiti on the market. That wasn’t true when it was published, and isn’t true now, as our next recommendation will make clear. Nevertheless, there’s a lot of content that looks interesting and useful – “…packed with practical information covering … travel routes, wildlife and Vodou … insightful information on Haiti’s rich artistic and musical heritage… and … discusses the medicinal merits of Haitian rum”. Customer comments are lavish with praise.


332. Lonely Planet Dominican Republic & Haiti – Paul Clammer, Michael Grosberg, and Kevin Raub

This guidebook dates from 2011 and was co-written by the author of the previous recommendation. The contents listing suggests that this contains a lot of useful information that the previous listing may lack, including an annual festival calendar, over 39 local maps, and coverage of many of the cities and towns. Amazon claims there is a newer edition but the titles don’t match. Because this is a very out-of-date book, however, it is very inexpensive.


333. The Spirits and the Law: Vodou and Power in Haiti – Kate Ramsey

The vexed history of the Haiti political leadership and their relationship to the religion of Vodou, banning many of the key practices (and sending the worship underground). This book provides context and motivation for many of the events discussed in earlier recommendations (323, 324, 325, and 326). We’re not sure of how much relevance there is for the Pulp GM, and that’s the only reason this book is languishing at the end of this subsection. Technically, it’s too expensive to include, but in terms of telling “the whole story” it looked too useful to ignore.

Books about Cuba



334. Havana Before Castro: When Cuba Was A Tropical Playground – Peter Moruzzi

“Hundreds of vintage photographs, postcards, brochures, and other materials evocative of [the] time and place”, this collection “documents how the city of Havana evolved from a Prohibition haven and rich man’s playground” (in the Pulp and Pre-Pulp Era). 256 pages, which is quite large for this kind of collection. Kindle and Perfect-bound Paperback. The text should be equally valuable as reference for the Pulp GM.


335. Havana Nocturene: How the Mob owned Cuba and then lost it to the Revolution – T J English

“To underworld kingpins Meyer Lansky and Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Cuba was the greatest hope for the future of American organized crime in the post-Prohibition years. In the 1950s, the Mob – with the corrupt, repressive government of brutal Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in its pocket – owned Havana’s biggest luxury hotels and casinos, launching an unprecedented tourism boom complete with the most lavish entertainment, top-drawer celebrities, gorgeous women, and gambling galore.” Although principally focused on a post-pulp era, there are a number of references to how the Mob reached the level of ascendancy described in the above description. And you can always twist history to bring the Gangster’s Paradise into existence early, with this as a foundation – or perhaps giving the PCs a chance to slow the takeover would be more satisfying? Clearly you have options for how to employ this material, but it definitely deserves a place in this list.


336. Cuba: 400 Years of Architectural Heritage – Rachel Carley and Andrea Brizzi

Another photographic album, but this one dedicated to the architecture of Cuba. Rare photographs and “exquisite” commentary. There are four or five books on this subject, but most are in the $60+ price range; New copies of this in hardcover form are the same, but there are very affordable used copies of the paperback, and almost-affordable used copies of the hardcover. 224 pages, again fairly lengthy for this sort of book.


337. Lonely Planet Cuba – Brendan Sainsbury and Luke Waterson

There aren’t many travel guides to Cuba yet, and too many of them would not be relevant to the pulp GM anyway; too much has changed since the 1930s. We’ve selected this one because it includes sections on the history, architecture, cuisine, music, dance, landscape, wildlife, literature, arts, and politics of Cuba, has over 80 color maps inside, and (possibly missing if you buy used) a free pull-out map of Havana in the print version only. 544 pages.


338. Lonely Planet Havana (City Travel Guide) – Brendan Sainsbury

The perfect accompaniment to the map in the preceding travel guide is this book from the same travel line, and written by one of the two authors of the Cuba guide.


339. Cuba Culture Smart – Russell Maddicks

As with the travel guides, our great concern is that there will have been too much change in the Revolution and Castro years for this to be relevant. The description of this book suggests that, in fact, very little changed from the time Castro took over until the thawing of relations with the US; the country was stuck in a “cold war time warp” that is only now beginning to change as the nation stumbles headlong into the 21st century. “Culture Smart! Cuba will take you beyond the usual descriptions of Havana nightlife, vintage cars, and hand-rolled cigars and give you an insider’s view of an island that is teetering on the brink of historic change. It offers insights into Cuba’s fascinating history, national icons, unique food, vibrant cultural scene, and world-renowned music. Practical tips help business travelers gain an edge on the competition. But most of all, this book aims to show you how best to break the ice and get a better understanding of the infinitely resourceful Cuban people, who despite severe hardships and shortages over many years remain optimistic and fiercely proud of their heritage and culture.” There’s a much smaller cultural step from the Cold War back into the Pulp Era, and the key phrase in the preceding quote is “teetering on the brink” – meaning that most of the content is actually going to be fairly relevant.

Books about Jamaica



340. The Rough Guide to Jamaica – Robert Coates and Laura Henzell

We’ve recommended a lot of the Rough Guides because they have a tendency to include useful information that other travel guides lack, excluding them only when there are reports of omissions or significant errors. While none of the commentators indicate that this is or is not the case in this particular book, they rate the book very highly. Lots of copies available and new doesn’t cost that much more than used. There is also a Kindle version.


341. History Of Jamaica – Clinton Black

Black is the Government Archivist for Jamaica, making this 176-page book as definitive as it gets. There is a reported bias against Europeans in the history, but they didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory during their ascendancy over the island – the Spanish period, the British Occupation, the introduction of slavery and the sugar plantations, and the British Colonial period which was followed by independence from 1962.


342. Jamaica Culture Smart

Like many places, the mass media have sensationalized the dangers and stereotyped perceptions of Jamaica. In defiance of these perceptions, and despite genuine economic and social problems, Jamaica is regularly ranked among the five happiest nations on Earth in the annual Happy Planet index. This book promises to take you beyond and behind the clichés. Paperback and Kindle.

Books about The Panama Canal

Work commenced on a Canal across the Panama Isthmus to connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans in 1881, but France abandoned the project in 1894 due to engineering problems and a high worker mortality rate. In 1904, the United States took over the project and completed it in 1914. In the first 6 months of its operation, 1,000 vessels made the six-to-eight hour passage through the Canal, a tally that has risen steadily ever since, reaching a peak in 2008 of 14,702 transits. It is a key strategic location in world commerce and has been since its opening.


343. Portrait of the Panama Canal: From Construction to the Twenty-first century – William Friar

A collection of historic and contemporary photographs and accompanying text to celebrate the centenary of the initial groundbreaking on the Panama Canal. At 80 pages, an unusually small collection, but at least some of them, probably hard to find, should be from the Pulp Era and copies are extremely cheap – used copies start at 1 cent.


344. 100 years of curiosities at the Panama Canal – Jaime A Troyano

The first of two books by Troyano, who worked as a guide for the Panama Canal Authority for 15 years. He began collecting photos and anecdotes about the canal’s history with which to regale the tourists he was escorting, and turned them into this book. Kindle and Paperback.


345. Panama Canal Facts, Myths & Legends – Jaime A Troyano

The origins of this book are obviously the same as that previously listed. This doesn’t quite meet our normal standards of availability, but the source is sufficiently authoritative and the adaptability of that content that isn’t directly relevant is likely to be high, so an exception has been made.


346. Piloting the Panama Canal: Experiences of a Panama Canal Pilot – Esther Miles

And, speaking of authoritative sources, the author of this book spent “many years” as a pilot responsible for guiding vessels through the Canal, and through her eyes, the reader comes to see life as it actually was along the Canal (the Suez might dispute the appellation of ‘most famous canal in the world’). This focuses on the period before the Americans signed a treaty handing control of the Canal over to Panama. Along the way, you get introduced to the famous and infamous people who passed through this part of the world – some of whom may be pulp relevant. Even if not, though, it seems most unlikely that there would have been substantial change in the nature of this job from the Pulp Era, and it is that relevance that earns this book a place on our list. New and Used copies are the same exact price at the moment.


347. The Gringo Guide to Panama: What to know before you go – JuliAnne Murphy

In 2008, expat and author Murphy relocated to Panama for business reasons; the experiences of the next two years led to this book, in which she describes all the things that she wished she had known before making the move but didn’t know to ask in advance.


348. The Gringo Guide to Panama II: More to know before you go – JuliAnne Murphy

The sequel to the previous recommendation. This was not as well received by readers, several of whom were under the impression that this was a revised edition and not a sequel. There are reportedly a lot of comments within the book pointing to the earlier volume, which may become annoying after a while. In general, the first book is the more essential, while this contains more personal anecdotes and color.


349. Panama Culture Smart – Heloise Crowther

The product description is a canned series description, but customer comments suggest that this book fulfills the brief quite successfully. “It covered all of the basics of the customs, culture, history, food, etc. for what turned out to be a very charming country. This book is a must read for anyone that is traveling to Panama and wants to go beyond the boundaries of a guided tour or 4 star hotel stay. If you prefer to get to know the people and culture of Panama choose this quick read to get you started.” 168 pages, which is a little more substantial than a “quick read” in our opinion.


Books about Asia



350. Asia – Oliver Föllmi

The fourth volume in a series of photographic collections sponsored by Harry N. Abrams’ project Offerings for Humanity, this book contains images from Burma, Japan, China, and Vietnam, and many points between, all taken by Föllmi. This is not a lightweight collection; 352 pages, and each of them is 11.6 x 14.8 inches in size. Expect postage to be higher than usual. The Hardcover starts (new) at $24.95 ($65 through Amazon) but used copies can be a mere $16.95.


351. Asia: A Concise History – Arthur Cotterell

This history appears more comprehensive than we thought possible. starting with Assyria and Persia and ending somewhere close to the modern day – certainly World War II and its aftermath are included. Used as the textbook for a number of “History of Asia” classes. Of course, squeezing more than 3000 years of history for such a vast geographic region into a mere 450 pages, not everything can be reported in detail. Nevertheless, the author is not afraid to incorporate snippets and sidebars of little historical relevance but acute interest and flavor. While the book does refer to dates on occasion, it prefers to adopt a narrative approach that is reportedly easy to read. Kindle and Paperback.


352. How Asia Works – Joe Studwell

Some Asian countries have boomed, economically, over the last 35 years or so, while others have stagnated. Studwell boils the economies of nine Asian nations – Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and China – into narrative form that anyone can follow, “debunking Western misconceptions, show[ing] what really happened in Asia and why, and for once makes clear why different countries have prospered while others languish. This 400-page book has been praised by everyone from Bill Gates to the Financial Times; 70 customer reviews average about 4.5 out of 5. Hardcover, Kindle and paperback.

Paperback: (pictured, costs about the same new as used, $10)

Hardcover (costs about the same new the paperback, cheaper than paperback used, fairly plain cover):

Kindle from either of the above links $8.22.


353. Insight Guide to Southeast Asia

There aren’t many tourism guides that cover the entire Asian region, or even a significant part thereof, and most are too modern-day-tourist in orientation. This appears to be the best of them, describing an “unrivaled range of amazing experiences and unforgettable sights – from the northern hills of Thailand to the dragons of Komodo, frenetic Manila to laid-back Vientiane, the sands of Ko Samui to Balinese temples and the ruins of Angkor Wat”. Throw in a photograph on (almost) every page and “detailed, high quality maps throughout” and affordable prices both used and new, and it was impossible to go past it.

Books About China



354. China: From Empire to People’s Republic 1900-49 (2nd Edition) – Michael Lynch

We’re accustomed to thinking of Imperial China as being from Centuries ago, and indeed, the first emerged around 2070 BC – so long ago that the Xia Dynasty was considered mythical until archaeological evidence for a Bronze Age dynasty was uncovered in 1959. The Xia were succeeded by the Shang, which is the earliest to be confirmed by contemporary records, and ruled for roughly 600 years circa 1600 BC. And so it comes as some surprise to many that the last Dynasty, the Qing, only fell from power in 1912, only six years prior to the Pulp Era. It was replaced by a Republic. A period of political instability followed this transition, and a modicum of stability was finally forcibly achieved in 1928 by General Chiang Kai-Shek, until he in turn was overthrown in the Chinese Civil War in 1949, founding the People’s Republic Of China. This history details this turbulent period.

Normally, we look for the older editions first as they are generally cheaper, but that was definitely not the case on this occasion; the first edition is now priced at $60 or more, while the newer edition is far more affordable. Paperback only.


355. The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China – Jay Taylor

We almost didn’t include this book, and we almost included it on the Second Shelf in the “notable real people” section. Ultimately, it was decided that the historical content outweighed the biographical. A deeply complex individual who was at once progressive and ruthless, conscientious and at the same time, temperamental. Understanding him is essential to understanding the China of the Pulp Period – unless, of course, you decide to extend the existence of Imperial China (there are other books below for you if that’s your intent). Even then, we suspect that the General would find himself at the center of events, either the strongest supporter of Government or its greatest enemy.

Used copies of the hardcover are cheaper than copies of the paperback, either new or used, but new hardcover copies are quite expensive. While the used hardcovers last, those would be our recommendation – followed by the paperbacks, either new or used, once the price of the Hardcovers exceeds $11.


356. The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China – Hannah Pakula

Her husband may have behaved like a Dictator, his wife behaved like an Empress. You might think from that information that she was raised in a traditional Chinese manner, but she was in fact a Christian born to wealth and educated in America. She was inarguably a potent political force in Pulp-era China. Again, the most obvious place for this book is in the “Significant Real People” section, but the inclusion of period photographs and (most especially) maps, along with her undeniable influence over the history of China, made its relocation to this section a no-brainer. Kindle and Paperback, and much cheaper through third-party vendors (new or used).


357. The Dynasties of China: A History – Bamber Gascoigne

Six short years. The Pulp GM has three basic options when it comes to Pulp-era China. The first is to reflect the real history, in which there is nominally a republic, ruled by what is effectively a dictator, while civil war brews in the hinterlands; the second is to bring forward and amplify that period of unrest; and the third is to extend the life of the Chinese Empire. Any of these is extremely Pulp in tone. If you choose the latter option, you will need a history of the Empire and its Dynasties; we’re listing two, both by the same author. At 304 pages, this is the longer of the two. The hardcover is completely out of reach at $63 (used) and $89 (new), and new copies of the paperback are only half as unreasonable at $37+ – and all of them very limited in numbers. But there are cheap and reasonably-plentiful used copies starting at just $2.16.


358. A Brief History of the Dynasties of China – Bamber Gascoigne

With virtually the same cover and definitely the same author, you might mistake this for being the same book. It’s not – this is only 240 pages, and a lot cheaper. In terms of customer ratings, the two are distinguished only by plentiful reviews of the first and a paucity for this book; the overall ratings are virtually identical. The product description separates the two; the first is a proper history, while this book examines the subject by narrating the stories of representative real-life figures from each historical period. The two do not conflict or even overlap; they are complimentary.


359. A Brief History of the Boxer Rebellion: China’s War On Foreigners, 1900 – Diana Preston

“Fueled by hatred of foreigners and all they stood for, the ferocious uprising of Chinese peasants and ensuing siege of Peking in the summer of 1900 sent shockwaves around the world.” The rebellion only lasted for 55 days, but it shaped world perceptions of, and relations with, China for decades, and was one of the first signs of the imminent collapse of Imperial Rule.


360. Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945 – Rana Mitter

When did the Pulp Era end? The rough end-point that we have been using is the start of World War II, just as the beginning is the end of the Great War – but when exactly is that? The official date is 1939, when Britain and France declared war on Germany over the invasion of Poland, but Pulp Adventures within the US (and a large part of the rest of the world) are clearly possible beyond this date. Perhaps it is the date of US entry into the War – Pearl Harbor? Even then, if given an intelligence or counter-espionage slant, Pulp adventures are possible. These become far more problematic after D-Day, so that has to be the “outer marker”.

But those are not the only possible dates. If one considers the Pulp Era to end in a gradual transition from pulp to post-pulp, when did that transition start? The start of the War, obviously – but, again, when was that? 1939? Pearl Harbor? Or perhaps it was earlier – The Spanish Civil War is often seen as a precursor to WWII. Or, arguably, the Japanese invasion and occupation of China in the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), which commenced two full years before the invasion of Poland. Beyond the obvious participants, this also involved the UK, Soviet Union, and the USA – a noteworthy coalition.

This book reveals the “drama of invasion, resistance, slaughter, and political intrigue”. And, while it marks the beginning of the end of the Pulp Era, it conclusively does not mark the end of the end; at least some of the events of this period lie within that period. This is a part of history that the GM of a pulp campaign needs to know about. 464 page hardcover or 480 page paperback; we have linked to the former format because copies are cheaper (and note that new copies are currently cheaper than used).


361. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: China

The 2014 edition is, according to customer reviews, a flawed book that nevertheless has an average rating from 37 reviews of 4.3 out of 5. 660 Pages, with the usual maps and floor-plans that you would expect in a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide, the four complaints of substance that stood out to us are 1. That while it is detailed, it is insufficiently so; 2. that this is particularly true concerning travel within China; 3. that the coverage outside the major cities and tourist attractions ranges from spotty to nonexistent; and 4, at least one reader perceived a strong racial prejudice against the Han Chinese, the largest ethnic group within China – though we looked for evidence of this prejudice without success in the extracts provided by Amazon.

Most of these complaints are not replicated in the 2016 edition, which is also 660 pages, though it is reportedly still poor in the logistics and relies on comparatively poor photography. A bonus for our purposes is that most of the new structures created for the Olympics are ignored, leaving more room for the potentially-relevant. Nevertheless, these are the highest-rated travel guides to China, which is only slowly (and somewhat reluctantly it seems) coming to embrace to the tourist trade. Both have different authors cited, making it harder to choose between them; we are recommending the more recent one as the best choice, but also including a link to the older and much cheaper edition.

2016 edition (pictured) ($12-19):

2014 edition ($0.01-$6):


362. China Survival Guide: How to Avoid Travel Troubles and Mortifying Mishaps, 3rd Edition – Larry & Qin Herzberg

Pocket-sized with 264 pages. Includes “practical strategies for lodging, walking, haggling, medical and bathroom emergencies, etiquette, crowds, and learning the twin arts of patience and persistence”. Tackles its subject with humor and panache. One customer review from 2009 complains that it’s out of date, others from 2012 praise its accuracy, which leads us to suspect that the content may not apply to the entire country. Paperback and Kindle.


363. Etiquette Guide To China: Know the Rules that Make the Difference! – Boye Lafayette De Mente

This might have topped our list, but it’s been completely revised and brought up-to-date to incorporate the etiquette of the Digital Age and the impact of modern commercialism on China. 192 pages, significantly shorter than the previous offering – though the “China Survival Guide” used an unknown amount of space for personal anecdotes (many of which should make good incidental encounters, properly “massaged” by the GM).


364. China: Empire of Living Symbols – Cecilia Lindqvist

There are more than 50,000 Chinese characters in use today, and all of them are ideographs, also known as ideograms – which is to say that each represents a complete and whole idea. Unless you read the Wikipedia page on ideograms, which strongly refutes this as a general principle, then discussing technical concepts generalized to cover the entire field. That, plus the product description and professional reviews, leave room to suggest that while they may have evolved since, the origins of the Chinese characters were ideographic in nature. Because the alternative is that Publisher’s Weekly, the Boston Globe, and London Review of Books are all idiots or armchair experts who got their reviews wrong in exactly the same way. Not impossible, but rather improbable – Occam’s Razor suggests that the more likely explanation is more likely to be the correct one, until further evidence to the contrary is presented.

Having thereby argued the expertise and validity of the content of this book, what is that content? “The origins of Chinese ideographs were not known until 1899, when a scholar went to an apothecary for some medicine made of “dragon bone.” To his surprise, the bone, which had not yet been ground into powder, contained a number of carved inscriptions. Thus began the exploration of the 3000-year-old sources of the written characters still used in China today. In this unparalleled and deeply researched book, Cecilia Lindqvist tells the story of these characters and shows how their shapes and concepts have permeated all of Chinese thought, architecture, art, and culture.”

In other words, the history of the language provides context for, and shapes, the culture. Which makes perfect sense to us – and justifies including this reference on the subject. Kindle and paperback, with used copies for just one cent.


365. Guilty of Indigence: The Urban Poor in China, 1900-1953 – Janet Y Chen

We are always a little wary of books written about areas of strong political control, unsure as to how close the author has had to toe “the party line”. If the publisher or author are from a more liberal nation such as the USA, those concerns are generally alleviated. In this case, we are told nothing about the author but the name, but the publisher is Princeton University Press, so the likelihood is that it is as independent of political interference as you are going to get.

In the early 1900s, poverty became the central issue for the future of China. This book studies the lives of the poor in this critical and chaotic period, the policies by which the government attempted to ameliorate the driving force behind growing political instability (and, ultimately, a “people’s revolution”), and the public attitudes toward the poor as they changed over time. Focuses particularly on two of China’s largest cities, Beijing and Shanghai. 320 pages, Kindle and Paperback. Note that at the current time, Used and New copies through third-party vendors were the same exact price.


366. When China Ruled the Seas: The Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433 (Revised edition) – Louise Levathes

“1405-1433”? You may be wondering what this book is doing here. But lost Chinese treasure ships make a great MacGuffin, and the ‘miraculous’ survival in suspended animation of such a ship is always possible – in a pulp campaign! 256 pages, published by Oxford University Press. Kindle, Hardcover, Softcover, from $5.81.

Books about Beijing (known in the West as “Peking” in the Pulp Era)


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367. Old Beijing: Postcards from the Imperial City – Felicitas Titus

There are two editions of this collection of more than 350 vintage photographs and postcards; we have linked to them both, below. The images are accompanied by “extensive” historical background and commentary, but the images dominate, usually three or four to the page. With that many images on each, page size becomes important: 10.5 x 9 inches is adequate, but we don’t recommend the Kindle edition unless you are very comfortable perpetually zooming in and out. These are the sort of images that you won’t find on the net; you may find similar images from elsewhere but they will lack the authenticity that these provide, a surprising number of which are in color.

We were unable to determine what the content differences are between the editions, but suspect that the thawing of relations between China and the outside world over recent years has given the author access to records that were not available at the time of the first edition – a lot has changed in the four-year interval between the two.

Pricing is interesting to compare. Both Kindle editions are the same price and may in fact be identical. The older edition costs from $10.31 to $32.50 for the hardcover, and there are 15 used and an unknown number of new copies; the newer edition costs from $12.43 used, with only 13 copies available, and from $10.99 new, with 43 available. Amazon themselves are charging $13.32 for the new edition, but report that they have only 4 left in stock. This is actually the cheapest price, once postage and handling are taken into account. At those prices, we recommend buying from Amazon until copies run out; then new copies of the new edition until they get to about $12.50; then choosing between used copies of the older edition, used copies of the new, or paying a premium for a new copy of the new edition. Between the two, availability should not be a problem.

2012 edition (hardcover with dust-jacket, used):

2016 edition (hardcover, new and used):


368. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Beijing and Shanghai – with photographs by Chen Chao

The Amazon information on this book is slightly misleading. The 2011 edition is a paperback, the 2016 edition is flexibound. There are no 2016 paperbacks and no 2011 flexibound copies, and clicking on the button to change binding format takes you to the page for the other edition. Page counts differ by only four and the physical dimensions are identical.

The unfortunate fact is that there are no highly-rated travel guides to Beijing – Shanghai, we’ll deal with separately. The ratings for this book – 4.4/5 from 62, with Amazon having conflated reviews for both editions – are about as good as it gets, the others are all in the threes. So this is as good as it gets.

As usual, it’s the cutaway 3-D drawings and floor plans that elevate the DK guides. The print edition comes with a color pull-out map (may be missing in used copies). Beyond that, the DK guides tend to focus on brief narrative descriptions that do little more than tantalize – but which are an excellent starting point for further research into specific topics. The other great advantage that books like this offer is in the spacial relationships between locations – knowing how far X is from Y on foot can be extremely useful to the GM.

Pricing & Links:

2011 edition (Paperback, pictured) 34 used from $0.01; 15 New from $3.00.

2016 edition (Flexibound) 20 used from $7.47, 40 new from $7.49, Amazon price $15.33:


369. Rickshaw Beijing: City People and Politics in the 1920s – David Strand

In the 1920s, China was in turmoil, as revolution, war, and imperialism brought chaos, and China’s cities were at the center of the upheaval. This book examines how the residents of Beijing coped with the multitude of changes wrought by itinerant soldiers, politics, social change, poverty, capital, technology, and ideas, studying the experiences of ordinary citizens including rickshaw pullers, policemen, trade unionists, and Buddhist monks. 388 pages, published by University of California Press. One customer complained that the book was soporific with too much spent on the Rickshaw and not enough on the city, even while conceding that the author’s grasp on the subject matter is unmatched. Everyone else who reviewed the book gave it four stars or better, and several explicitly recommend ignoring the one-star review. We found the text quite readable, though it could have been edited a little more tightly.

It’s an aphorism in Australia that if you want to know what’s happening, and what people really think, you talk to a Taxi Driver. I suspect that citizens of New York or London or Berlin would say the same thing. The Rickshaw men were the “Cabbies” of 1920s China, working poor who rubbed shoulders with everyone else in society. If anyone was in a position to give a ground-roots view of the anarchy, it is them. It’s the ‘ordinary people’ stories that make this a compelling choice for this list. There are a surprising number of photographs and the majority are quite large, a value-adding bonus.

Amazon want $33.95 for new copies of the paperback, other vendors have 29 copies from only $11.94. There are 40 used copies from just $1.48. There are also hardcovers from just $2.75 and a Kindle edition for $18.47.

Books about Shanghai

The one overwhelming impression that we have from the 12 books recommended below is that Blair and Mike seriously undervalued the adventure potential of the place when they took the Adventurer’s Club campaign there. A couple of confrontations with some officials, some hints as to the national political scene, and a little drama at the dockside courtesy of one of a PC’s Rival – they barely glanced at the surface, never mind scratching it. A return visit to China’s Gateway is clearly in order.


370. Shanghai Girl Gets All Dressed Up – Beverley Jackson

It was in 1930s Shanghai that the look which would become ubiquitously identified as “Chinese” in western cinema for decades – high-collars, body-clinging, slit-to-the-thigh silk gowns, often brightly colored and decorated – first emerged. Known now by various names – cheongsam, qi pao, and Suzy Wong dresses, they paint a strong contrast with the utilitarian drabness many associate with the period immediately after the Chinese Revolution. Art Historian Jackson explores the city that gave birth to this iconic style, and explores the cultural and artistic movements that coalesced to create it, in this photograph-heavy volume. The text is described by one customer as insipid, but it’s not for the text that we recommend it. 160 pages, each 10×10 inches in size; new copies are few and $40, but used copies start at an affordable $4.77.


371. The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams, and the Making of Modern China – Julia Lovell

To understand Shanghai in particular, and Pulp-era China in general, you need to understand the Opium Wars. Arab traders had first brought Opium to China for medicinal purposes during the Middle Ages, but it took hold as a recreational drug; by the early 19th century, 90% of the Emperor’s Court and the majority of the army were addicted. Britain was also addicted, to Chinese-grown tea paid for with the profits from Opium sales; even today, there is an immediate association between Brits and a “Cuppa”. When China tried to ban the drug and bar those who continued to import it illegally, England went to war to keep open China’s ports, and emerged not only victorious but forcing concessions from the Chinese Throne; the resulting perception of the Imperial Government as vulnerable eventually brought about the end of Imperial Power in China, the first domino that ultimately produced modern China.

This is the first of two books we are recommending on the Opium Wars; it is described as “exceptionally well-written” by reviewers; presented in a narrative style with extensive footnotes, Lovell’s account draws on both Chinese and British sources and provides “pithy descriptions and accounts of characters on both sides”, making this exceptionally readable. It includes a final chapter based on interviews with young Chinese today which engages the lasting impact of the Opium Wars on Chinese perceptions of the West.

The author is a lecturer on modern Chinese History at the University of London, has written for the Guardian, The Times, the Economist, and the Times Literary Supplement, translated a number of Chinese books into English, and is considered an expert on the subject who spends a large part of each year in China with her family. This is as authoritative an account as you will find. At 512 pages (12 of them index), it is the lengthier of the two books, and is almost certainly the more readable of the two. There are limited new copies of the paperback and even fewer used copies, both well within our acceptable price range. There is a Kindle version of an edition by a different publisher to the one featured in Amazon’s preview. Hardcovers are also available, and used copies are currently even cheaper and more plentiful than the paperback.


372. The Opium Wars: The Addiction of One Empire and the Corruption of Another – W Travis Hanes, Frank Sanello

Despite the 12-page index, we aren’t certain of how useful Lovell’s book will be as a reference, so we are also recommending a more traditional and concise (352 page) history. In the interests of adding value to readers of these lists, the history we have chosen represents the wars from China’s perspective and not from the British. It is often said that the winners write the history books; at least in this case, it is untrue. But bear this bias in mind when engaging with this book. Kindle and paperback editions, starting at $4.19 used and $11.48 new.


373. Old Shanghai – Betty Peh-T’i Wei

The title of the series of which this book is a member, “Images of Asia”, is misleading. While this book contains photographs, it is not a photographic collection; it is text with accompaniment. This is a popular history of Shanghai from its beginnings as a market town to the modern day, with emphasis on its “golden age” in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (the Opium Wars puts a new spin on the term “golden age” in our view).

“Wei tells the story of gangsters, traders, and bankers, as well as the artists, political activists, missionaries, and armies of laborers who made Shanghai one of the world’s foremost business cities, and the flashpoint of political and social change in China”. Only 96 pages in length, but published by Oxford University Press, this is a very general history but must be considered authoritative. New copies are hard to justify given the length and price-tag of $15.93+, but used copies are not only more plentiful but start at just one cent.


374. Tales of Old Shanghai: The Glorious Past of China’s Greatest City – Graham Earnshaw

With copies of the preceding recommendation limited in number, we felt it prudent to include an alternative; in the interests of diversity and adding value to this list, we have chosen a book with a slightly different perspective. This book presents photographs, newspaper clippings, stamps, vintage advertisements, excerpts from travel guides, fliers, and first-hand anecdotes that collectively evoke a sense of the history and tone of the city in a scrapbook format.


375. The Rough Guide to Shanghai – Simon Lewis

We commented that good travel guides seemed to be hard to find for Beijing; that’s not the case for Shanghai, and it’s our sense that this book is a better choice than the Beijing-and-Shanghai guide that seemed the best for the capital. Promising “clear maps of every neighborhood and detailed coverage of city attractions, this fully updated guidebook will help you discover the best Shanghai has to offer. Detailed practical advice … All the major and offbeat sights are covered” and “includes all you need … for great day trips to tranquil canal towns such as Tongli and Suzhou.”

There are two editions available through Amazon: a 2014 version and a 2011 version. Simply because they will be cheaper and will exclude some of the more recent changes, we recommend people buy the older edition until prices get to $12 or so; after that, you will need to compare prices for the two and decide for yourself. The current prices are shown below.

2011 Edition (pictured), 208 pages: 12 New from $12.46, 28 used from $0.01.

2014 Edition 200 pages: Kindle $11.40; 40 New from $8.10, 21 used from $8.10.


376. The Gathering Place: Stories from the Armenian Social Club in Old Shanghai

There are always a few who will take a chance during times of trouble and relocate to another nation in hopes of a fresh start, leaving (if necessary) friends, family, and home. The immigrants whose stories appear in this collection of personal histories made their way to exotic Old Shanghai, where they joined the Armenian Social Club. “Their travels coincide with war, economic depression, revolution, banditry, and military occupation during the most turbulent period in modern history … the first half of the twentieth century.” While a number of those accounts will clearly relate to the two World Wars, a plentiful number do not.


377. Policing Shanghai 1927-1937 – Frederic Wakeman

“Pre-war Shanghai: casinos, brothels, Green Gang racketeers, narcotics syndicates, gun-runners, underground Communist assassins, Comitern secret agents. Frederic Wakeman’s masterful study of the most colorful and corrupt city in the world at the time provides a panoramic view of the confrontation and collaboration between the Nationalist secret police and the Shanghai underworld.” Could it sound more Pulp? But, on top of that, it is described as “a great reference book, although … filled with very detailed information, including statistics, that might not be of interest to the general reader” – but which would certainly be valuable to the Pulp GM. 478 pages and academically oriented with splashes of flavor, published by University Of California Press. Kindle ($33.56), Hardcover from $25.86 – but paperback copies start at just $14.99.


378. Gangsters of Shanghai – Gerry O’Sullivan

Unusually, we are recommending this piece of historical fiction, and that despite a great number of complaints about the quality of the plot and writing (many of which make it sound very “dime-store-thriller”), and for one very good reason that a great number of reviewers commented on: “This book is worth reading for its historical detail alone …. There’s an extremely well-drawn, accurate picture of just how surreal the International Settlement was. Wealthy Westerners line their balconies and watch vicious fighting just outside their borders as if it was sport” (City Weekend, Shanghai); “Superbly researched” (David Lowther, author and reviewer for Amazon UK); “…puts you there as if you actually lived through this part of history” (an amazon customer); “…impossible to determine the weave where historical reality ends and imagination takes over” (another amazon customer).” target=”_blank”>


379. The Shanghai Green Gang: Politics and Organized Crime 1919-1937 – Brian G Martin

From one book that – technically – doesn’t belong in this list to another. The Shanghai Green Gang were both the dominant figures in Shanghai Organized Crime in the 1920s and 30s and the most powerful secret society in China until the Japanese occupation. Like the Mafia and the Yakuza, there is a great deal more to the organization, and its leader, Du Yuesheng. than met the eye of the casual observer at the time. In this book, Martin “sifts through a variety of fragmentary and at times contradictory evidence – from diplomatic dispatches to memoirs to police reports – to produce the most comprehensive account of this chaotic period of Chinese history.” The author is or was a Senior Foreign Policy Analyst for the Australian Parliamentary Research Service and is a Research Associate at the Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong. 279 pages, published by the University Of California Press.

And so to the bad news, and the reason this book shouldn’t be included, having demonstrated clearly why it has been, anyway: Amazon have one new copy for $63. Other vendors have another 25 new copies from $39.15, and 22 used copies for $38.27 or more. Those are almost double our normal limits – but there really is no comparable source.


380. Shanghai at your door (Culture Shock Shanghai) – Rebecca Weiner

The product description is canned text about the Culture Shock series. According to the (only) customer review, “It … provides a great overview on Shanghai’s history, Shanghai’s people and doing business in Shanghai. While other books cover all of these subjects in much more detail, I find this book offers a great overview.

The major reason why we are recommending this particular local culture guidebook is that it dates from 2003, when China was only beginning to open up, and so it will (we expect) be less tainted by commercialization and tourism.

Paperback, 10 new copies from $18.76 and 20 used from one cent.


381. Cinema and Urban Culture in Shanghai, 1922-1943 – edited by Yingjin Zhang

Shanghai was also the center of the Chinese film industry until the Communist Revolution. “…Zhen Zhang discusses how the influence of teahouse culture gradually yielded to cinematic and narrative concerns in the early 1920’s. Kristine Harris’s analysis of a costume drama reveals the director’s cultural heritage and a rich psychological subtext created by new film techniques. Leo Ou-fan Lee examines the ways various urban institutions were utilized to promote a certain type of film culture in Shanghai.” – and that’s just in the first of three parts within this 392-page book, published by Stanford University Press in 1999.

Hardcover copies are out of reach at $60-70, and new copies of the paperback start at $24.65. But there are 26 used copies starting at $10.14.

Central Asia

Books about The Himalayas

There are no shortage of books about hiking the Himalayas, and no shortage of climber’s/hiker’s memoirs and accounts. Books about the mountain range itself tend to be far more obscure and hard to find – and period ones even more so. We have selected one (non-period) Trekker’s Guide and one such climber’s account, and supplemented these with the closest thing we could find to period guides. You will find related works in separate sub-sections on Tibet, Nepal, and Mongolia.


382. The Trekker’s Guide to the Himalaya and Karakorum – Hugh Swift

Thousands of trails interconnect through the Himalayas, some thoroughly commercialized and well-traveled by hikers and climbers, others all but unknown. This claims (and we have no reason to doubt him) to be the only guidebook to cover the entire Himalayan system including the hill regions of Pakistan (Chitral, the Gilgit River Valleys, and Baltistan); India (Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Garhwal, and Sikkim); all of Nepal; and parts of Bhutan. 351 pages, published by Sierra Book Clubs of San Francisco in 1982. There are 6 new copies for $62.61 but used copies are affordable from 14 cents and reasonably available.


383. Thin Air (2nd edition) – Greg Child

“In this spellbinding chronicle, Greg Child takes us step by nerve-shattering step through the world’s most remote regions – as he cracks the “death zone” above 26,000 feet, and attacks ‘by fair means’ the world’s most perilous pinnacles.” This appears to be a typical climber’s story, elevated above the rest by a more poetic turn of phrase. Library Journal state, “Although Thin Air would be improved by the addition of political maps, an index, and more rigorous copy editing, it is a worthwhile contribution to the literature of Himalayan climbs”. Kindle and Paperback.


384. Tales of the Himalayas: Letters from WWII Airmen who flew the Hump and from other Veterans of the CBI (Revised edition) – compiled and edited by Dr Carl Frey Constein

“This is a book of letters written to Carl Frey Constein, author of the WWII memoir Born to Fly the Hump. Most of the letters are from pilots and crew who also served in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations. They tell of crashes and bailouts over the Himalayas and Burma, of mammoth thunderstorms and engine failures, of bombing runs out of China, of airdrops behind enemy lines.” With War coming to the China region in 1937, these stories are as close to pulp-contemporary as you can get.


385. Missing In The Himalayas: An MIA Team’s High-Risk Mission in Tibet – Dr Carl Frey Constein

Amazon uses a subtitle that doesn’t appear on the cover. On December 3, 1444, a C-46 returning after a mission broadcasts a mayday and vanishes. A Tibetan hunter stumbles across the site of the crashed aircraft at 14,000 feet some 60 years later, prompting a high-risk MIA mission to excavate the crash site. This book tells the story of that recovery mission.

Books about Nepal



386. People Within A Landscape: A Collection of Images of Nepal – Bert Willison and Shirley Bourke

Presents 200 color images of Nepal, mostly of people or buildings with very big mountains n the background, on 128 pages. No index. Hardcover; new copies are $56+ but used copies start at one cent. Amazon credits Sir Edmund Hillary with the design, but his name doesn’t appear on the front cover.


387. Insight Guide Nepal

Eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains are in Nepal. This travel book covers the entire country region-by-region, with detailed maps and travel tips. 374 pages. Written and refers to the region before the devastating earthquakes of April-May 2015. Kindle and Paperback, both new and used are affordable and similar in price.


388. Lonely Planet Nepal – Bradley Mayhew, Lindsay Brown, and Wanda Vivequin

“Practical, reliable information to get the traveler from peak to valley – comprehensive section on festival dates & highlights to help travel planning – 55 detailed maps”. Contains “extensive background on people and cultures, and essential pre-trip guidance”. Covers only the southern part of Nepal (no information on the Himalayan region, for example). Potentially better than the Insight Guide within its’ areas, but incomplete. Note that there is a more recent edition which post-dates the earthquakes referred to above; for that reason, we are not providing a link to it. 384 pages, 10 new copies from $14.49 (2 collectible from $6.63 – how does that work?) and 38 used copies from one cent.


389. A Trekking Guide to the Nepal Himalaya: Everest, Annapurna, Langtang, Ganesh, Manaslu & Tsum, Rolwaling, Dolpo, Kangchenjunga, Makalu, West Nepal – Sian Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons

“…the Nepal Himalaya are a fairytale wonderland of picturesque villages, tremendous terraced hillsides, precipitous canyons, forest-filled valleys, pristine nature, quaint Buddhist monasteries and colorful Hindu temples. The hardy, vibrant people could not be more charming as hosts, guides, porters, yak herders and fellow travelers on the myriad of trails.

“This comprehensive, indispensable guide to the Nepal Himalaya covers the popular as well as the less well-known trekking trails of Nepal. Including: a) introductory section: country background, religion and festivals, practicalities, trek planning, staying healthy, altitude sickness, mountain safety, and the highlights of Kathmandu b) detailed descriptions of the more popular trekking routes: Everest, Annapurna, Langtang, Ganesh, Manaslu & Tsum, Rolwaling and Dolpo c) outline suggestions for routes where camping is still the only option: Kanchenjunga, Makalu and West Nepal (Simikot, Saipal and Limi Valley).”

More than the trekking guide the title suggests, this is a book about the inhabitants of the region and their culture.


390. Nepal Culture Smart – Tessa Feller

“If you only have time to read one book about Nepal-this should be the one! Written by a woman who lived in Nepal for two years … captures everything you need to know.” Another purchaser suggested in 2011 (3 years after publication) that while it is an adequate overview, it’s insufficiently in-depth for someone who wanted to reside in the country, with two specific problems identified: some generalizations applied globally to the country are regional or sub-culture specific, and many are more true of country residents than urban dwellers; and there are suggestions that this is not a completely accurate “warts and all” depiction, for example drug use within the city and larger towns is over-downplayed. At the same time, however, the same reviewer making this complaint added, “there were a lot of little helpful facts in this book, it’s extremely well organized, and is very easy to read.” 168 pages, Kindle and Paperback.

Books about Mongolia

For most of the 20th century, most of Mongolia was under Soviet domination, and the rest was under at least titular control, though there are some Mongolians living in China. Gorbachev began the withdrawing of Soviet troops from Mongolia, a process that took three years, and they were left to fend for themselves and shape their own destinies as best they could. All of which makes pulp-contemporary information hard to find. The following recommendations are all compromised, then – too old, or too modern. But all contain elements of the people and culture as they were, then; so use them as a starting point and get creative.


391. Mongolia in the Twentieth Century – edited by Stephen Kotkin and Bruce Allen Elleman

You might hope that 20% of this book would be devoted to the two decades that are spanned by the Pulp Era; but you might be disappointed. The first 79 pages deal with pre-pulp, and that’s fine, because a lot of that material will remain valid. Pages 99-107 concern international diplomacy regarding Outer Mongolia. Pages 107-136 are Pulp-era specific. From page 137 to page 182, the post-war period under the Soviet Union is the focus; and from page 183 onward, the post-soviet (modern) era is the subject. At best, that’s about 10% of the book length; though this total improves if we give the book a half-score for the pre-pulp content, close to that 20% mark in fact. That said, this is the only substantial history book of Mongolia that doesn’t spend most or all of the pages talking about Genghis Khan or dealing exclusively with the modern era. Both of these factors need to be taken into account when you evaluate the value-for-money performance of the book.

New copies of the paperback from Amazon will cost you almost $53; they are slightly cheaper from third parties, starting at $38.22. Don’t even think about the still-more-expensive hardcover! There is a Kindle – for almost $47. But 15 used copies of the paperback start at just $11.99. There probably aren’t very many copies at that price, though.


392. Vanished Kingdoms: A woman explorer in Tibet, China and Mongolia 1921-1925 – Mabel H Cabot

“Vanished Kingdoms is the story of Frederick and Janet Wulsin’s exploration of central China during the 1920s. This is a fascinating book that is gorgeously illustrated with photographs captured by the Wulsins and is written by Janet Wulsin’s daughter.” – from a review by A Silverstone of Vine Voice. For a change, it’s the paperback that is completely unreasonable in price, and the hardcover that is affordable.


393. Travels in Mongolia 1902: A journey by C.W. Campbell, the British Consul in China – edited by Tim Coates

We know little about this book beyond the title and a single review which tells us that this describes the first encounter between a Mongolian and a Westerner. But the title is really all we need; while the Soviets had taken over in the years between the journey described and the Pulp period, and ruled for 15 years, much would have remained unchanged.


394. Lonely Planet Mongolia – Michael Kohn

This travel book has two things to recommend it: first, it is the most highly rated with a significant number of reviews; and second, it is the cheapest, mostly because there is a newer (more expensive) edition. Since we are uncertain how much of the content will translate back to the pulp era, and there are plenty of copies, we recommend that you stick with this edition. New copies are not affordable, but used copies are cheap.


395. Mongolia Culture Smart – Alan Sanders

“Mongolia is landlocked between its neighbors China and Russia in the heart of Asia. For centuries after the disintegration of Genghis Khan’s empire it was ruled by one or the other, but in 1990 the Mongols embraced democracy. Now, after two centuries of Manchu stagnation and seventy years of Soviet communism, they are rebuilding their national heritage. Rarely in the news but making progress toward a market economy, this resource-rich but infrastructure-poor country is a land of pioneers, and its greatest asset is the Mongol people, who are friendly, cooperative, ambitious, and well educated.” From which description, we would guess that perhaps a third of this book is certain to apply in the pulp era, and more is quite likely. “Friendly”, and “cooperative”, we can readily believe. “Ambitious”, is a bit more of a stretch, but perhaps it is so; their most famous son was certainly so. “Well-educated” seems improbably back then.

The author is considered the leading British authority on Mongolia, and is a former lecturer in the subject at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. The book is 168 pages in length. It is not a travel guide, it is a guide to the people and culture of the nation, something that some purchasers seem to overlook somehow.


396. In Secret Mongolia – Henning Haslund

True stories of the exploration of a remote and exotic region of the world in the 1920s and 30s – also available in a bright red cover, but it’s the same book. It was out of print for fifty years. “Haslund’s camel caravan takes him across the Gobi Desert where he meets with renegade generals and warlords, god-kings and shamans. Haslund is captured, held for ransom, thrown into prison, battles black magic and portrays in vivid detail the birth of a new nation. Meet the reincarnated gods: the ‘Mad Baron’ Ungern-Sternberg and Dambin Jansang, the dreaded Tushi Gun Lama of the Black Gobi, trek across the Gobi Desert, and go back in time to Shamanic Mongolia.”


397. Men and Gods in Mongolia – Henning Hasslund

First published in 1935, this book covers similar territory to the previous one, and is by the same author. In this book, Haslund “takes us to the lost city of Karakota in the Gobi desert and meets the Bodgo Gegen, a god-king Mongolia similar to the Dalai Lama of Tibet; Dambin Jansang, the dreaded warlord of the Black Gobi. Most incredibly, he writes about the Hi-mori, an “airhorse” that flies through the sky and carries with it the sacred stone of Chintamani. And there is plenty of just plain adventure: camel caravans; initiation into Shamanic societies; reincarnated warlords; and the violent birth of modern Mongolia.” New copies of the hardcover are out of the question at $85+, but used copies are the most affordable format at the moment at $9.88. In between are the paperbacks, costing about $17.70.

Books about Tibet



398. Secrets of Tibet: An Unknown Land of Mythos and Mystery – Jason Williams

This is a Call Of Cthulhu sourcebook for the 1920s. “The land is populated with malevolent gods and monsters, and deep secrets lie sleeping in ancient tombs and vaults among Tibet s soaring mountains and deep valleys.” Copies are getting extremely scarce and since originally compiling this list, have shrunk noticeably; the 15 remaining copies – about half new and half used – are around the $23-$24 mark.


399. In Secret Tibet – Theodore Illion

A reprinting of a 1930s travel book. The Author was a German who traveled in disguise through Tibet when it was off-limits to outsiders – fortunately he spoke fluent Tibetan. Includes illustrations of Tibetan monks levitating stones by acoustics. There are some very vicious negative reviews, but for us, that last sentence tells you exactly what to expect. 100 pages, Kindle and Paperback. The Kindle is the most expensive version.


400. Darkness Over Tibet – Theodore Illion

A sequel to the previous book, republished as part of the same series. Illion continues through Tibet and is given directions to an underground city. He is, if Illion’s original publisher is to be believed, the only Westerner to ever enter it and escape alive. This just reeks of being pulp-ready. Kindle and Paperback.


401. Himmler’s Crusade – Christopher Hale

An account of an SS expedition into Tibet in 1938, led by two people – one so rabidly committed to the Nazi cause that he later conducted racial experiments using the skulls of prisoners at Auschwitz, and the other using the Nazis for his own ends. The goal of the mission was to locate the remnants of the Aryan people, the lost Master Race.

Books about Japan

Japan has changed so much since the Second World War that it is very hard to find relevant reference materials. The war itself wrought vast changes, the industrial retooling that followed changed it still further, the global economic success and dominance in electronics and miniaturization that resulted changed it again, the Japanese Management Techniques that swept the world through the late 70s, 80s, and 90s transformed it once more. For all that segments of the West have become fascinated by elements of Japanese culture that didn’t even exist in the Pulp Era, it remains difficult to pin the place down in simple terms. That makes things difficult for the Pulp GM. These references should help.


402. Japan’s Siberian Intervention, 1918-1922: ‘A great Disobedience Against The People’ – Paul E Dusncomb

Japan’s role in World War II was all about grabbing resources, just as their success in miniaturization had its roots in achieving the maximum while consuming minimal resources. Their first attempt at acquiring the resources they desired, even as World War I was ending, should have warned the world of what was to come, but it didn’t. The history of this conflict is central to understanding Japan over the subsequent 23 years and beyond. Not to mention that the pulp era fully encompasses this time frame.


403. Constructing East Asia: Technology, Ideology, and Empire in Japan’s Wartime Era, 1931-1945 – Aaron Moore

This book challenges accepted interpretations of Japanese wartime and pre-war ideology towards technology, which may well have been the most lasting victim of Western wartime propaganda. This is quite academic to judge from the dense language employed in the product description. If your pulp Japan is to be making strides toward giant fighting robots and Godzilla-repelling technologies, you may want to pay close attention to the content. If not, it will still force you to confront the preconceptions that the history we were all taught has fostered. 328 pages, and doesn’t quite sneak completely under our price cap.


404. Japan 1868-1945: From Isolation to Occupation – Takao Matsumura and John Benson

There’s obviously a gap on the detailed histories selected above. This 292-page book will fill that gap, and supplement the preceding book which is about the interpretation of events during the 1930s and early 40s than about events.


405. A Concise History Of Japan – Brett L Walker

Another direction that the Pulp GM may wish to take involves preserving a more feudal approach to parts of the country despite the modernity of the era. That is the approach that Blair and Mike chose in the Adventurer’s Club campaign, in which Japan was a pulp-modern culture with small pockets of feudal and pseudo-feudal power structures, an odd blending of ancient and new that nevertheless resonated quite strongly with the known society, sociology, and wartime behavior of Japan.

Fully implementing this approach requires a still broader understanding of the history of the nation, and that is where this history comes into the picture. 359 pages, but with much more history to cover, many events will be discussed in less detail than the histories of narrower scope previously listed.


406. Tumultuous Decade: Empire, Society, and Diplomacy in 1930s Japan – Masato Kimura and Tosh Minohara

“Featuring an interdisciplinary and international group of scholars, Tumultuous Decade examines Japanese domestic and foreign affairs between 1931 and 1941. It looks at Japan in the context of changing approaches to global governance, the rise of the League of Nations, and attempts to understand the Japanese worldview as it stood in the 1930s, a crucial period for Japan and the wider world. The editors argue that, like many other emerging powers at the time, Japan experienced a national identity crisis during this period and that this crisis is what ultimately precipitated Japan’s role in the Second World War as well as the global order that took shape in its aftermath”. We don’t fully agree with their thesis, feeling that the identity crisis followed the war and the unconditional surrender that was forced on the nation, but that doesn’t mean that this book is bereft of value. Anything that describes the culture of the period is a useful reference to have. 328 pages. Kindle, Hardcover, and Paperback, but most copies and formats are too expensive to consider.


407. The Ultimate Japan Travel Guide By A Traveler For A Traveler

We have eschewed most of the travel guides as dealing with a Japan that is too far removed from the one of the Pulp Era to be relevant. This is one that snuck past that restriction by providing chapters on several of the major cities. 80 pages, which is very short for a travel guide. Kindle and Paperback.


408. Japan’s World Heritage Sites: Unique Culture, Unique Nature – John Dougill

This photographic collection was discovered at the last minute. If it dealt with the urban landscape in the pulp era in addition to the material it does contain, we would have elevated it in the list, as we like to be consistent in format; but it doesn’t, so it is in the specialty travel subsection for Japan. What it does contain are photographs of the temples, gardens, castles, and natural wonders that are now designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Each site is described in detail and in photograph. 192 pages, each 9 by 12 inches. At almost an inch thick expect higher P&H than normal. Kindle $16, new hardcover copies from $19.40, used from $10.40, and there is one out-of-reach collectible copy


409. Gurps Japan (3rd edition) – Lee Gold

Game supplement focusing on Feudal Japan. Useful for Samurai, Ninja, Japanese Castles, etc.

Books about Tokyo



410. The World’s Greatest Cities: The History of Tokyo

“Chronicles the history of Tokyo over the last several centuries, including accounts of what the city was like across the years, with a bibliography for further reading. At 44 pages, this is a slim volume, but the prices reflect that. Kindle and paperback, limited copies.


411. Tales Of Old Tokyo: The Remarkable Story of one of the world’s most fascinating cities – John Darwin van Fleet

“A breathtaking romp through … Tokyo’s history from the mid 19th to the mid-20th century, using lots of images, writings and clippings to bring back to life those far-off days.” 232 pages, Kindle and Paperback.


412. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Tokyo

This 2013 book is the only Tokyo travel guide with more than 3 1/2 stars from a significant number of reviews at Amazon. Not even the newer edition escapes this malaise (so we aren’t linking to it). The usual (for a DK travel guide) cutaways and floor-plans. Criticized by some for not including enough tourist activities, just places to go and things to see – which is a plus for our purposes. Because this is officially an out-of-date edition, used copies are at rock-bottom prices, and if they run out, there are reasonably-priced new copies.


413. Tokyo Now and Then: An Explorer’s Guide – edited by Paul Waley

When a 15-year resident of Tokyo describes this as his favorite historical guide to the city, you listen. 502 pages, and even though some of it will be out-of-date, the descriptive passages would remain current; more importantly, many of them would also be applicable in the Pulp era. Hardcover only, and new copies are prohibitively expensive; but there are 25 used copies from $2.49.


414. Tokyo: City Of Stories – Paul Waley

These are the stories behind the buildings, as recounted by the same author as the previous volume. Paperback only, both new and used are reasonably priced. 288 pages.


415. Tokyo: 29 Walks in The World’s Most Exciting City – John H Martin and Phylis G Martin

“On foot and by train or subway, it takes you through the most fascinating parts of the modern megalopolis, while making the shogun’s city – the Edo of samurai and geishas, merchants and artisans – and the outlines of old Tokyo come alive.” 19 walking tours in Tokyo; 10 day trips including Yokohama, Kamakura, and Mt Fuji; over 100 photos; 50 full-color maps, plus a “large pull-out map” (probably missing from used copies). 288 pages, paperback and Kindle, affordable in both new and used conditions, plentiful copies.

Other Significant Places in Asia

Books About Singapore

Singapore is one of the success stories of Asia. Founded in 1819 as a trading post for the East India Company, it was ceded to Britain in 1826. Captured and occupied by Japan in 1942, it was repossessed after the Japanese surrender. It gained independence by Federating with other former British territories to form Malaysia, but was expelled two years later because of ideological differences. A period of instability followed, eventually giving way to prosperity and stability.


416. Singapore: A Pictorial History – Gretchen Liu

One of the heftiest photographic collections we’ve ever seen, this 400-page volume contains more than 1200 images. The page size of 10.3 x 12 inches is enough that these are of a reasonable size – an average of three a page and the equivalent of a fourth for text would still make the average size larger than 5×6 inches each at a minimum, and potentially much larger. Nearly an inch-and-a-half thick, and weighing in at more than 5 pounds, additional P&H would seem a foregone conclusion. The collection includes the earliest known sketch (1823) and photograph (1843) of Singapore, topographic studies, formal portraits, and street scenes, some sourced from private family albums. The images are in four sections arranged chronologically. No matter how much you would expect to pay for such a collection, you are almost certainly overestimating; prices for new copies are only $25.57 and used copies start at a mere $2.90 – and are in good supply.


417. DK Eyewitness Guide to Malaysia and Singapore

Travel guides to Singapore all have roughly the same rating, and insufficient populations for those ratings to be deemed significant recommendations. With that in mind, we have opted for one that is usually heavy with additional content of use to the pulp GM. Paperback only, and both used and new are roughly the same price. 356 pages.


418. The Fatal Fortress: The Guns and Fortifications of Singapore 1819-1953 – Bill Clements

Between 1923 and 1938, the Singapore naval base had been upgraded with some of the largest coastal guns ever installed. The siting and design of these has since been blamed for the humiliating defeat of the British forces, but flaws in the island’s defenses were inherent in the city’s founding. This book instead argues that it was a failure of Command that ultimately caused the fall of Singapore. The text is accompanied by a number of photographs, drawings, and plans. 232 pages. The price is a little high by the lists’ standards at $23.37, but that’s not surprising – this book won’t actually be released until November 1st. Note that the price will almost certainly go up from that date; Amazon usually include a pre-order discount.


419. Culture Shock Singapore – Marion Bravo-Bhasin

This is the first of two cultural reference books to Singapore that we are listing, and it is the one that looks like being the most useful – given how much Singapore is likely to have changed in the intervening years. But it’s the more expensive of the two. 400 pages in length, however, while the alternative is a much briefer 168 pages. Kindle and Paperback..


420. Singapore Culture Smart – Angela Milligan

The Culture Smart series has been vying with Culture Shock for most useful cultural guide throughout these lists, and in this case, the latter won out. We are including this book because it’s a lot cheaper (just one, cent used), for the budget conscious.


421. Growing up in British Malaya and Singapore: A Time Of Fireflies and Wild Guavas – Maurice Baker

The final book in the Singapore section is the autobiography of Baker’s life in Singapore from the 1920s until the 1940s. This covers most of the Pulp Era like a blanket.

Books About Hong Kong



422. A Modern History Of Hong Kong – Steve Tsang

In 1841, Hong Kong was a little-known fishing community on the outer periphery of China. Then the British occupied it, and over the next 156 years transformed it into one of the world’s trading powerhouses. And then, as required under the terms of the treaty under which the Chinese ceded control, the British gave it back to China.

At the time, there was endless speculation on how the culture shock of a progressive western society encountering the Communist regime of the People’s Republic from a position of subordination would affect the city. Some felt that the Chinese would clamp down, hard, and that it would be an object lesson in repression; others (including Mike) thought that they would leave the city largely alone and milk the cash-cow for as long as the ride lasted. While that forecast was closer to the mark, no-one expected Hong Kong to swallow the Dragon; but whether it was the spur of competition, the enlightenment as to what China could be, or simply taking the success of Hong Kong as a template for the 21st Century, it was the handover in 1997 that seemed to trigger the beginning of the wave of transformation within China.

This is the story of Hong Kong from 1841 to the 21st century, as Hong Kong experienced a tumultuous transfigurative experience to rival that of anywhere else in Asia. It draws on documents and memories from both British and Chinese sources in addition to the obvious local knowledge, and is considered by many to be the definitive history – until the next great wave of change. 352 pages, Hardcover $70 near enough, Kindle $7.68, Paperback $34 new from Amazon or $14.24+ from third party vendors, $9.48 used.


423. An Extraordinary Youth: Growing up in British Hong Kong – Yvonne Blackmore de Jong

Most modern culture guides would be useless to at least some degree, but Hong Kong is better-served in that respect, in terms of the Pulp Era specifically, than many other places within Asia. These are the memoirs of a woman who was a young girl living in Hong Kong in the 1930s, interned by the Japanese when the “Pearl of the Orient” was occupied in the early 1940s, of her post-war return, and of her travels to Australia and Britain. Invaluable for capturing a glimpse of Hong Kong in that brief period we are calling the Pulp Era. Technically, with only 11 copies – 5 used and 6 new – and the used copies priced at $59 (the new are only $6), this should have been relegated, but it is too on-point to leave out – while the affordable copies last.


424. Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guidebook – Adam Frampton, Jonathon D. Solomon, and Clara Wong

Hong Kong is essentially built in three concentric semicircular rings, each smaller and higher up the mountain than the last. As you ascend, you are rising in social class and economic status. It can be said, as Frampton does, that this is a city without a ‘ground level’. The unique physical geography on which Hong Kong is built has profound effects on the culture and perceptions of the city; “Density obliterates figure-ground in the city, and in turn re-defines public-private spatial relationships. Perception of distance and time is distorted through compact networks of pedestrian infrastructure, public transport and natural topography in the urban landscape.” This book explores this unique physical and social topography by “mapping three-dimensional circulation networks that join shopping malls, train stations and public transport interchanges, public parks and private lobbies as a series of spatial models and drawings. These networks, though built piecemeal, owned by different public and private stakeholders, and adjacent to different programs and uses, form a continuous space of variegated environments that serves as a fundamental public resource for the city.”

While fascinating in its own right, none of this justifies the inclusion of this book in this list; it is far too modern in topic. To do so, it is necessary to point out that none of this was deliberately designed and engineered to function in this way; it was assembled piecemeal, and its earliest roots lie in the fundamental structure of the city itself as it was even in the Pulp Era. As such, this book offers a unique perspective and insight even on that time period. 128 pages, paperback, new and used available for $8.50+ or $17.70 from Amazon direct.


425. Hong Kong: A Cultural History – Michael Ingham

Although a first-glance perception of Hong Kong might be one of gleaming modernity, it has retained deep cultural roots throughout its history. This book strips back that surface (metaphorically speaking) to reveal the hidden culture, history, and myth that underly the modern community. Each region of Hong Kong is examined separately, examining its lifestyle, history, and notable tourist attractions. At its best with a separate map of the city, or you will find yourself perpetually turning back to the one at the front of the book. There are few photographs provided. 256 pages, hardcover (expensive except for a few used copies) and paperback (affordable, even cheap for a used copy).


426. Hong Kong’s Colonial Legacy: A Hong Kong Chinese’s View of the British Heritage

What did the British leave behind as their legacy when Hong Kong was returned to the Chinese at midnight on 30 June 1997? This book offers a Chinese resident’s answer to the question, aimed at the lay person – and, in the process, provides an insight into life during the period of British administration, which encompasses the Pulp Era. 218 pages, paperback.


427. Hong Kong Culture Smart: The Essential Guide to Customs and Culture – Clare Vickers

There are not many reviews of this book, and one is scathing: “provides the basics but if you really follow it you will be ridiculed by both cultures. The writing lends itself to easy skimming because it is not great. Picked up 1-2 tips but laughed at many of the rest.” The problem with this comment is that the author fails to establish his qualifications for making such a statement; his review title suggests looking elsewhere “like others have said” – except that there are no such suggestions, and Google lists no equivalent book.

We are forced to conclude that one of two conditions exists: either the review has to be dismissed from all consideration as malicious, or the GM has to compromise and build his representation of Hong Kong culture and etiquette on a model that is not an accurate representation of the reality. Since this is a guide to modern-day Hong Kong, there would need to be generous liberties taken with the content anyway, so either way, we end with the proposition of ignoring the complaint.

Further fueling that perspective are the qualifications of the author – “Clare Vickers is an English writer who lived in Hong Kong for eighteen years, from 1979 to 1997. Her husband was a member of the Hong Kong Government, and collaborated with her on the history and government chapters of this book as well as other historical books and articles on Hong Kong. She has a degree in modern languages, and has written several dictionaries and textbooks for Hong Kong schools, had a column in the educational section of the South China Morning Post, and is the author of Escape, a Story of Wartime Hong Kong, written for Hong Kong teenagers. She last worked in the territory in 2004.” Those qualifications make the complaint sound very hollow and foundation-less.

We originally weren’t going to include any modern culture guide, even if we found one, but checked this one because the low rating seemed unusual for this series, which has earned a number of other recommendations on our list. Upon noting the publication date, and the dates of residence – 1997 was, of course, the year of the handover back to China – we felt that this might just hold insights to the colonial period culture, and worth listing. 168 pages, reprinted in 2006, pocket sized. Kindle for $7 but new copies from just 49 cents and used for one, so the convenience definitely comes with a premium.


428. Hong Kong Policeman: Law, Life and Death on the streets of Hong Kong: An English Police Inspector tells it as it Was – Chris Emmett

“In 1970 Hong Kong was the fastest expanding city in the world, a city that lived on three levels: the expatriates, nearly always British who lived in almost complete isolation; the vast mass of Chinese residents struggling to get by and improve their lot; and, finally, the criminal and corrupt underside which not only fought among itself, but also affected the lives of everyone else in the Crown Colony through fear and corruption.” Opposing the underworld was the Hong Kong police force, and this is a report of the experiences of a young Mersey-side policeman, Chris Emmett. Although set in the 1970s, the city’s nature – as described in that introductory paragraph – hasn’t fundamentally changed since the Pulp Era, making this as valid then as it was at the time it was written. 262 pages, Kindle and Paperback. New copies are currently cheaper than used.


429. Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia – Joe Studwell

Studwell is also the author of recommendation #351 on our list, “How Asia Works”. In this book, he recounts the personal histories of the fifty families in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong who dominate the lives of five hundred million people. Along the way, he reveals the broader historic, economic, and political influences that have shaped the region over the last 150 years. 368 pages, Kindle and Paperback.

Books About Taiwan



430. Accidental State: Chiange Kai-shek, the United States, and the Making of Taiwan – Hsiao-ting Lin

Some view the creation of “Two Chinas” as the inevitable outcome of the Chinese Civil War (it is not a position that China has ever accepted). Although the state itself did not exist until the Revolution – refer to our China section – the fact that General Kai-shek would choose this as the place to flee to marks it out as having been somewhat different to mainland China even before that seminal event. Understanding Taiwan in the Pulp Era is therefore an attempt to identify and characterize the points of distinction, and the origins of the Nation are the key. (It’s ironic that the “Two Chinas” are probably more alike now than at any point since then – Mike). Those origins are the subject of this book, which we shouldn’t recommend for price reasons but can’t resist for relevance. 352 pages, published by Harvard University Press. Kindle: $31.84 Hardcover: $39.95 from Amazon, $28.15 new, $26.94 used. First published in March this year and copies are starting to run out, so we would not be surprised to see a paperback edition sometime soon.


431. Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan, Past and Present – John Grant Ross

“Until the early twentieth century, Taiwan was one of the wildest places in Asia. Its coastline was known as a mariners’ graveyard, the mountainous interior was the domain of headhunting tribes, while the lowlands were a frontier area where banditry, feuding, and revolts were a way of life. Formosan Odyssey captures the rich sweep of history through the eyes of Westerners who visited and lived on the island”. These stories appear to cover the Pulp Era, and the years both before and after. Kindle and Paperback, and technically there aren’t quite enough copies available – but once again we will make an exception on the grounds of obvious relevance.


432. Insight Guide to Taiwan

There are a lot of travel guides to Taiwan, and they all seem to have similar ratings – without a great enough review population for an informed perception of those ratings. The few who have significant review counts also seem to decline markedly in rating. The Insight guides, aside from being one of those that we always keep an eye on, are exceptions to those statements. Furthermore, there are more copies available at cheaper prices than most of the other travel guides we saw listed by Amazon.

The defining trait of the Insight Guides series – and each series definitely tries to establish its own ‘niche’ within the travel-guide publishing space – is that they tend to contain more cultural and regional information than the others, which may be more detailed in key tourism locations (Lonely Planet) or have a greater emphasis on photographs (national geographic) or maps (DK) or factual details that others lack (Rough Guides). 260 pages, Kindle and Paperback, new from $12.22, used from $2.30.


433. Insight Guide to Taipei City

The previous listing deals with the country as a whole, this recommendation (from the same line) focuses on the capital, Taipei. Kindle and Paperback, new from $8.92, used from $10.01.


434. Taiwan A to Z: The essential Cultural Guide – Amy C Liu

Taiwan preserves traditional cultural elements while accommodating the modern. Many of its practices and traditions will be strange to outsiders. In terms of rating by customers, this book is head-and-shoulders above the other offerings. Written by a Taiwanese local who understands both Western and Traditional cultures, enabling a prioritization of the things that people need to know and that are likely to intrigue and interest readers. The produce description lists four examples: Why it’s a bad idea to give a clock as a gift; why so many (modern) Taiwanese have PhDs; how Taiwanese parents choose children’s names; and why a new mother shouldn’t take a bath for a month after giving birth. Of those, two out of the four would probably translate directly to the pulp era, and one could translate indirectly. That’s a pretty healthy strike rate given that this is a content-relevance test that the description wasn’t designed to satisfy!


Books about India



435. India Then and Now – Rudrangshu Mukherjee

India’s past juxtaposed with India now, as with all of the “Then and Now” series. The “about the author” appears to describe a completely different person. It’s possible that the name on the cover is a pen-name. This is the “third impression edition”, i.e. the third printing of this particular book. 274 pages, and each larger than one foot by one foot make this a very hefty book – expect additional P&H (it weighs 6 pounds). Amazon lists the hardcover at $43.04 but third party vendors will provide it new for $21 or used for $5.44.


436. India (4th Edition) – Stanley Wolpert

A general introduction to India. An older edition would have suited our needs better, as this edition has been “updated”. Described as a Comprehensive, Short, and Readable overview by some, and as ‘awkwardly written’ by others. Amazon aren’t offering a preview by which we could judge for ourselves, but editorial reviews support the first and contradict the complaint. 264 pages, new for $15.98 (Amazon $32.88), used from $6.30.


437. The Chaos Of Empire: The British Raj and the Conquest of India – Jon Wilson

A book that doesn’t quite live up to pricing standards for this list but that was too relevant to ignore. Until independence was granted to India in 1947, it was ruled by the British Raj – a selected class within Indian society who were elevated to rule by proxy and rubber-stamp whatever the British Government’s representatives decided. It was a system designed to protect British power and not the welfare of those it administered, and it was absolutely in effect during the Pulp Period. Hardcover, new $20.95 (Amazon $25, which is slightly cheaper) and used $21.33. Even combining both, there are only 28 copies left. Remarkably, Amazon list the publication date as 11 days from when this text is being written, and describes it as their #1 New Release in India History. The product details back up the publication date, however, virtually ensuring a reprinting that will bring prices down – this looks like being a best-seller. 584 pages.


438. The History Of India in 50 Events – Stephan Weaver

The title says it all, really – 50 events critical to the formation of Modern India. Don’t expect page numbers; this is history in bite-sized sequential pieces, good for a quick overview of history and little more than a starting point to anything further. 84 pages, Kindle (3.19), and Paperback (New $8.80, Amazon $12.99, Used $10.89).


439. Climbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India – Madhur Jaffrey

The author is an food writer and actress who was born in 1933 as one of six children to a prosperous businessman and with a vast extended family – often 40 people at dinner – under the benign but strict thumb of her grandmother. This is her memoir of that childhood, including 30 recipes that she has recovered from those memories and times. Expect a foody-orientation to this slice of period history, then, but the era is definitely pulp. 324 pages, in Hardcover and paperback; new of either from $4-4.50, used copies of either one cent.


440. Essential India Travel Guide: Travel Tips and Practical Information – Shalu Sharma

The most highly-rated of the India travel guides other than those explicitly targeting ways women can protect themselves while visiting the country. “Covers everything you need from places to visit to dealing with beggars and how to protect yourself”. “India is a great country for holiday but it can be rough at times. Sadly, many incidences and crimes do happen and many of them are directed at foreign travelers. Many foreigners end up being ripped off their hard earned money. Most people in India working in the tourism industry do not realize that even in the West, one has to work hard for their money and do not have surplus to squander around.” The product description actually lists all 37 chapters, and many of them would be just as relevant in the pulp era as they are now. 176 pages, Kindle ($4.11) and Paperback (Amazon $10.80, New 3rd Party $7.44, used $0.71).


441. India: The Land of Mystery, Mysticism, Mythology, Miracles, Multiculturalism, and Mightiness – John K

Part travel guide, part review of Indian religious beliefs and mysticism, the compound produces a strangely pulp flavor. See if you agree: the first four chapters are entitled “Mysterious Spots in India”, “Mysticism in India”, “Religious Myths in India”, and “Miracle Healing and Powerful Manifestation of Supernatural in India” (sic). Then again, there is the conundrum of what to make of an author who uses an initial for his surname and who’s bio makes him sound like a self-help guru. Judging from both that description and the chapter titles, he also seems to have problems with plurals and the word “the”. Even with these faults, this is too pulp-like to ignore. 84 pages, Kindle ($4.11) and Paperback (Amazon $9.99, 3rd parties new $7.31, used $6.40 – making Amazon the better choice by about $1).


442. India Culture Smart: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture – Becky Stephen

India has been changing rapidly since 2003, when it entered an economic boom – which was followed more recently by the GFC of 2007-08. The 2010 version of the guide emphasizes that it has been completely revised to highlight “the many subtle and not-so-subtle changes that are taking place in Indian society, describes and explains those areas of life where traditional attitudes and practices continue to prevail, and offers original insights, practical tips, and vital human information to guide you through the pitfalls and delights of this complex, vibrant, and increasingly important country.” The review most customers rely on is critical: “I had hoped for a book with a lot of cultural insights. Instead most of the book is written in ‘Wikipedia style’. It mainly consists of facts.” A more positive interpretation follows – “The chapters are broken up into bite sized chunks which makes this easy to read and dip in and out of. It also had various photos throughout, although rather frustratingly these aren’t labeled so you know what you are looking at! This offers plenty of advice to dodge the most obvious social faux pas and should help you get the most out of your time in the country and in your relationships with its citizens.”

The 2016 edition is positively ebullient about the country in comparison; it reads like it was written by the Indian Tourist Board, or whatever the equivalent is called. It gushes so much that we felt in the presence of a used car salesman – it was trying too hard.

Both are 168 pages in length. The 2010 edition is free as an Amazon audio book with their Audible trial offer, and the paperback is $0.49 new, $0.01 used, or $9.95 through Amazon. The 2016 edition is available in Kindle ($7.49) and Paperback (Amazon $7.94, New $5.67, and Used $6.86). Based on the product descriptions, we would recommend the older edition over the newer, and not just because they are cheaper.

2010 edition (pictured):

2016 edition:

Books about Delhi



443. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur

As usual, maps, floor-plans, and 3-D cutaway diagrams are prominent features of the DK guides. This covers everything from the Taj Mahal to the local wildlife, temples, bazaars, museums, and other attractions. 312 pages, paperback and flexibound; the latter are cheaper at the moment (especially buying direct from Amazon), but look carefully when you go to purchase as all the prices are close.

Books about Bombay/Mumbai

The city known as “Bombay” and often referred to as the gateway to India was renamed Mumbai in 1995, a consequence of power shifting between ethnic groups and a rise in nationalism that occurred throughout India at the time; many places were renamed to shed unwanted ‘legacies’ of British rule.


444. By-Ways of Bombay – S M Edwardes

Originally published in 1912 and now free of copyright, this book is floating around in two forms – kindle/scanned (which excludes the photographs and cuts the length to 44 pages) or printed paperback which comes in a variety of page counts: 44 pages (1 copy, generic cover), 88 pages (23 copies, proper cover), 104 pages (14 copies, generic cover), 118 pages (1 new at $89, 2 used at $2000, generic cover), and 156 pages (1 new at 22.99, and one used at $2,101.99, generic cover). According to a customer review, the 96-page version (!) includes photographs; we therefore suspect that all printed versions except the 44-page one may have photographs. Although Amazon offers to let you “look inside” a number of these, this simply previews the (picture-less) Kindle version, so it’s no help. (One reason for the proliferation of copies is that Project Gutenberg scanned it once its copyright expired, removing the images as is that project’s usual practice; many of these copies are simply rehashing this digital version).

But it’s not for the images that we recommend this book; they are just a bonus if you get them. This is the anecdote recollections of a Government Official in Bombay and wrote about the people that he encountered. Edwards died in 1927 on January 1; 19 of the stories within this book were originally published in the “Times Of India”, the 20th was added in the second edition and was first published in the “Bombay Gazette”. These local encounters may date from 1912 to 1927, but they should be readily transferable to any point in the Pulp Era to give the GM a shot of instant color for his campaign.

We are linking to the Dodo Press 88-page version because it’s the only one with enough copies available at a reasonable price. The Kindle version is free, new copies of this paperback are $4.05 and used copies are $7.32.


Books about Africa (excluding Egypt)



445. Africa – Photographs By Art Wolfe, with text by Michelle A Gilders

A photographic collection that covers five ecosystems and represents 20 trips to Africa over a twenty-year period. Gilders provides five essays. This shouldn’t be in the list but is so comprehensive that we couldn’t refuse it. 240 pages, 11.3 inches x 14.9 inches – this is a big book. Increased P&H will certainly apply. Ignore the collectible and new versions of this hardcover, they are out of reach. There are used copies starting at $21.92, and Amazon has the cheapest of them right now.


446. Serengeti: Natural Order On The African Plain – Mitsuaki Iwago

A second photo-book, this one focusing on the Serengeti Plain. Higher page count (327), smaller page size (10.2 inches x 8.1 inches), and – despite that higher page count, a thinner book (0.9 inches vs 1.1 inches).

That tells us that this is printed on lower quality paper than the Wolfe collection. Total weight is about half of the previous book, further supporting this impression.

There are only 21 copies of this book, all are used, and the cheapest is one cent.


447. Africa: A Biography Of The Continent – John Reader

At 816 pages, this is probably more African history than any GM needs, pulp or otherwise. This is the complete story from the dawn of man to the modern day. But the prices for such a comprehensive book are unbelievable, and we could not refuse it. Fortunately, it is well-indexed and with a comprehensive bibliography. The Kindle edition is $12.92. The book is new from Amazon for $13.88. There are 61 new copies from other vendors for $4.98, and 111 used copies from $3.


448. A History Of Modern Africa: 1800 To The Present (2nd Edition) – Richard J Reid

This is a more focused history, dealing with the continent from the time Europeans started getting involved. Unlike most such histories that are written in English, this book places a greater focus on the story from an African point of view, especially during the colonial period, and includes in-depth coverage of non-Anglophone Africa. This history is current to 2011.

It is 408 pages in length, so there is room for a great deal more detail than the comprehensive history offered previously allows but we’re dealing with an entire continent here; a little under two pages a year average seems barely adequate for such a vast topic. Amazon list it for $18.99 (+P&H) used and $41.83 new; third-party vendors offer it for $22.97 new. Amazon have the low price for a used copy. It is also available in “e-textbook” format. Clearly, we are recommending used copies.


449. Beyond Empire And Nation: The Decolonization Of African And Asian Societies 1930s-1970s

This was almost relegated to the honorable mentions; it’s too expensive, and there are not enough copies (neither of which was the case when it was first considered. This 304-page history focuses specifically on the rise of independent nations within Africa as the Colonial powers relinquished their hold, sometimes with great reluctance. But more than just the events, this book looks at the consequences for each on the people, the society, and the economies, and that was what convinced Mike to convince the rest of us that it should stay.

Amazon list new copies at $32, and used copies at $21.41. Third party vendors offer 11 new copies for $22.75; Amazon has the low price on used copies, of which there are also only 11.


450. Travels In West Africa – Mary H Kingsley

There are lots of reprints of this out-of-copyright book but in most cases they are too expensive or too few in numbers. In 1893, Kingsley found herself at loose ends for the coming five or six months and decided to spend them exploring Africa. This 458-page book is her report of the expedition. Much of what she found would remain relevant until, piece-by-piece, the path of her journey intersects a newly-created nation (or one in a state of unrest). There are 28 new at $24.99 (but Amazon is cheaper at $28.99 once P&H is taken into account), and there are 18 used copies at $2.72.


451. Lonely Planet West Africa – Anthony Ham, Jean-Bernard Carillet, Paul Clammer, Emilie Filou, Tom Masters, Anja Mutic, Caroline Sieg, Kate Thomas, And Vanessa Wruble

Rather than trying to list travel guides for each individual state, we wanted to address the problem geographically. It turns out that Lonely Planet had the same idea, and that copies were both acceptable and numerous. The ‘West Africa’ book is 520 pages. Kindle $19.25, Paperback from Amazon $25.32, third parties list 56 new from $13.20 and 29 used from $5.44.


452. Lonely Planet Southern Africa – Alan Murphy, Kate Armstrong, Lucy Corne, Mary Fitzpatrick, Michael Grosberg, Anthony Ham, Trent Holden, Kate Morgan, And Richard Waters

It’s important to note that this is Southern Africa and not South Africa – the latter being the name of one particular nation within this broader region. 760 pages. Amazon want $25.73 for a new copy (and have only 20 left) or $17.98 for the Kindle edition. Third parties offer 72 new starting at $15.47 and 33 used from $7.48.


453. Lonely Planet East Africa – Anthony Ham, Stuart Butler, Mary Fitzpatrick, And Trent Holden

For some reason, there aren’t as many reviews of the East Africa book. 664 pages. Amazon have new copies for $23.32 and a Kindle edition for $19.17. Third parties offer 65 new at $15.24 or more and 23 used at $17.23 up. So, for now at least, new copies are cheaper than used.


454. Lonely Planet North Africa – Damien Simonis, David Willett And Ann Jousiffe

The North Africa part of the coverage dates back to 1995 and is almost certainly out-of-date with respect to the modern world, unlike most of the earlier listings. That affects the price of this 800-page volume: there are 7 new at $36.86 and climbing, and 27 used at one cent.


455. Lonely Planet Central Africa – Alex Newton

Completing the quintet is this 564-page volume from 1994. There are 6 new copies at $10.39 or more and 26 used copies at one cent plus.


456. Wicklum’s Law and other tips on How To Survive In Africa – Michael Wicklum

“Invaluable information” and “anecdotal commentary” that documents seven trips across a combined total of 14 countries. We’re worried that some of the content will refer to SUVs and mobile phones, but most of it should be applicable either as a casual encounter for the PCs or as genuinely useful advice / instruction to them. Be warned that this book also lists in Amazon’s humor section. Kindle for $4, Paperback from $11.64 new or $2.01 used; Amazon have one copy at $19.99.

Books About The Sahara



457. The Sahara Desert – Molly Aloain

The Sahara desert reaches into 12 countries and occupies a greater land area than the entire United States. This book is about the Geological makeup of the desert. A 32-page book aimed at children, and a little expensive on that basis – Paperback $9.95 from Amazon, 30 new at $5.10 from third parties, who also have 14 used at $3.98. There is also a library binding available; Amazon want $27.60 for theirs, there are 13 new at $6.80 and 8 used at $3.98.


458. Sahara: The Extraordinary History of the World’s Largest Desert – Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hirtle

“In the parched and seemingly lifeless heart of the Sahara desert, earthworms find enough moisture to survive. Four major mountain ranges interrupt the flow of dunes and gravel plains, and at certain times waterfalls cascade from their peaks. Even the sand amazes: massive dunes can appear almost overnight, and be gone just as quickly.” The Sahara is full of unexpected twists, as this book, which focuses on the desert and its people, reveals. 320 pages Paperback, Amazon $14, third parties have 22 copies new at $9.83 and 39 used at one cent. There is also a collectible copy at $15.

Books About “Darkest Africa” not listed elsewhere



459. Secrets of Kenya: The Mythos Roams Wild – David Conyers

“Africa strikes fear in the hearts of civilized Westerners for its savage tribes, fierce animals, impenetrable jungles, vast deserts, lost civilizations, slave traders, contagious diseases–and the unknown.” The ‘Dark Continent’ is a mystery, the least understood, most dangerous, least explored of all the six habitable continents. Diseases, beasts, and savages pose effective barriers to exploration. And that means that if you get past them, strange things may wait to be discovered – dangerous things, things man was not meant to know…

Books About Morocco



460. Morocco – Photographs by Barry Brukoff with text by Paul Bowles

Second only to Egypt, during the Pulp Era, Morocco was perhaps the most exotic and mysterious “known” location in Africa. It is, perhaps, no coincidence that the two are both bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and of course, the Iberian Peninsula is only 7.7 nautical miles (14.3 km) away at the narrowest point in the Strait Of Gibraltar. Just far enough to entice the imagination, just strange enough to be mysterious, just close enough to tease with that mystery.

No American writer is more closely associated with Morocco than Paul Bowles who traveled there in the 1930s and remained for many years. In 1991, Barry Brukoff went to Morocco to meet Bowles and persuaded him to provide text to accompany his photographs of the country. This collection is the result. 128 pages, new at $137.75 but there are 24 used copies that start at $17.48.


461. Morocco – Annette Solyst

A second photographic collection simply because this one is so affordable. 96 pages, 8 new copies out of reach at $43.80 but 45 used starting at just one cent.


462. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Morocco

This travel guide has 26 reviews and an average rating from them of 4.9 on the 2012 edition. The 2015 edition doesn’t fare quite as well – 16 reviews at an average of 4.6. Combining both, there has been only one negative review, who was complaining about readability and tiny type more than anything else. Everyone else loves it, emphasizing comprehensiveness and accuracy and value-adding to their trips. Well, we don’t expect to be visiting Morocco anytime soon, but our PCs might do so anytime. The older edition is slightly larger (408 pages plays 396), and is cheaper, so that would be our first choice, but the newer one is close enough in price that this ratio could flip after a single sale, so make sure to check both before committing.

2012 edition:

2015 edition (pictured):


463. Culture Shock Morocco: A Survival Guide to customs and Etiquette – Orin Hargraves

The author served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco in the 1980s and is an accomplished writer. Customer reviews indicate that the content has not dated at all. 296 pages, Kindle ($4.82), Paperbacks 6 New from $19.97 and 23 used from $2.38.


464. Morocco That Was – Walter Harris

“Until 1912 Morocco never suffered foreign domination, and its mountainous interior was as closed to foreigners as Tibet. Walter Harris (1866-1933), though, was the exception. He first visited in 1887 and lived in the country for more than thirty-five years, and as the Times correspondent had observed every aspect of its life. He was an intimate of at least three of the ruling Sultans (as well as King Edward VII) and a man capable even of befriending his kidnapper. It was said that only three Christians had ever visited the walled city of Chechaouen: one was poisoned, one came for an hour disguised as a rabbi, and the other was Harris.” The content predates the Pulp Era – but it might be fun to extend the era of the Sultanate into that period, or perhaps have a warlord install himself in that position. Either would be Very Pulp, and worth considering. If you choose to go that route, this book could be indispensable. Kindle ($6.08), Paperback (Amazon $24.48, 21 New $9.03, 13 used $9.05).


465. Secrets Of Morocco – William Jones

Call of Cthulhu 1920s sourcebook. “Learn of the ancient traditions of Morocco, of its war torn cities, and its rebels. Venture through the land as it was in the 1920s and 1930s. This Call of Cthulhu roleplaying sourcebook contains the historical information and the Lovecraftian Mythos details to adventure in one of the world’s most exotic lands.”


Books about The Middle East



466. Middle East Patterns: Places, People, and Politics (6th Edition) Colbert C Held and John Thomas Cummings

“…the most comprehensive and authoritative geographical study of the region. Colbert C. Held and John Thomas Cummings introduce the Middle East from a topical perspective and then provide in-depth country-by-country coverage.” Comparative information on resources, human, and social development; analysis of ethnographic, economic, and political patterns; sections on health issues, business environments, and the historic US presence in the region. 728 pages, new $41.08 (from Amazon) or from $14.22 (third parties), used from $7.95, also available in eTextbook format and Amazon also have a ‘rent’ option.


467. The Complete Idiot’s Guide To The Crusades – Paul L Williams PhD

While some European History books might touch on this subject, as might some of the “Nazis & The Occult” books, this is one of the few books on the Middle East that seems useful in a Pulp Context, however indirectly. Plots dealing with the consequences of the past are the obvious point of relevance (Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade), but some of the fortifications erected in consequence can make great locations for a pulp adventure, treasures that might have been lost or abandoned can make great starting points for adventures, and parts of the Middle East are international crossroads of renown in the Pulp “now” just as much as they were then.


468. Faith and Sword: A short history of Christian-Muslim Conflict – Alan G Jamieson

The product description raised a few hackles amongst us very quickly by implying that the most extreme elements of the modern-day Middle East are representative of Muslims as a whole. That sort of generalization is both lazy and gives fuel to anti-Islamic extremism that is just as pernicious, vile, and evil as the terrorism that it claims to want to defend against. This is a sore spot for us, even though we are neither Muslim nor Islamic ourselves, and are just as scathing of excessive political correctness, and this rubbed us the wrong way immediately. Deciding to put the best possible face on it, dismissing it as a misguided attempt to make this book appealing to a specific target market or a naive attempt to justify the point that the reviewer was making, we moved on to the rest of the paragraph, which discusses the actual content of the book: “Alan G. Jamieson explores here the long and bloody history of the Christian-Muslim conflict, revealing in his concise yet comprehensive study how deeply this ancient divide is interwoven with crucial events in world history.”

There is no doubt that these are divisive issues, not least because because of the baggage that arises as a result of the long history of the conflict, and the polarized views that are fueled by acts of extremism and over-generalization. Hate crimes are condemned when a member of our society commits them; why are the same standards not applied to differentiate between those of Islamic faith and extremists?

This led us to the serious question of whether or not inclusion of this book was pandering to the extremist counter-reaction, or risked doing so. Ultimately, the customer comments convinced us that the book itself was neutral and unbiased, neither pro-Christian or pro-Muslim, and our own values mandate that an informed debate is more successful than an uninformed one. So it makes the list because, undeniably, these events occurred and were instrumental in shaping the Middle East that we see today.

All that said, why should you consider buying it? Even though it is short at 256 pages, it appears to be inclusive and comprehensive without oversimplifying or accepting any bias one way or the other. That makes it an excellent reference resource on the subject.


469. Ploughing Sand: British Rule in Palestine 1917-1948 – Naomi Shepherd

“After the First World War the British in Palestine were handed an ambiguous” – some would say ‘impossible’ – “brief: to encourage the formation of a “national home” for the Jews and to protect the “civil and religious rights” of the local Arabs. Colonial officials … attempted to legislate for the benefit of Arabs and Jews alike, but saw many of their laws on immigration and land evaded by both, often in collusion. Trying at first to settle political” (and social and religious) conflict by persuasion and conciliation, in the end they turned disastrously to force. This study is the first to reconstruct in detail the workings of the troubled Mandate administration, and the influence of its chief personalities.” The title is based on a quote on the situation by a leading official who expressed his frustration that all their constructive efforts in Palestine had been like “ploughing sand”. 304 pages, 27 used copies from $3.


470. Lonely Planet Middle East – Anthony Ham, Sofia Barbarani, Jessica Lee, Virginia Maxwell, Daniel Robinson, Anthony Sattin, Andy Symington, and Jenny Walker

As with Africa, the only travel guide that has adopted a broad, regional approach is Lonely Planet; the others focus on specific countries or even specific cities. Lonely planet have those, too, but they also provide these broad overviews, which are excellent for the GM who only needs a general introduction.

Books About Arabia



471. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Saudi Arabia – Colin Wells

There aren’t many affordable general introductions to Saudi Arabia, so this book caught our eye. If we were relying on the product description alone, we would have passed on including it, but there are a number of substantial reader review that sold us – “the ultimate primer on this subject” is the tag-line of the first, and “make this your first stop on learning about Saudi Arabia” headlines the second. “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Saudi Arabia is in four parts. Historical background, the Gulf War and its aftermath, Saudi society, and the terrorism issue. It includes an FAQ, a timeline, a bibliography, a glossary, and an index. Definitions, notes, and cross references abound. The book also benefits from lively prose and juicy humor. And the author shares his opinions and predictions liberally.” – excerpted from the first review mentioned.

This book fills the brief perfectly, and nothing else we found did so within our budget (or even two-three times our budgetary limits). 336 pages, 10 new from $18.80, 1 collectible from $14.90, and 47 used from one cent.


472. From Cairo to Baghdad: British Travelers in Arabia – James Canton

British travelers to Arabia were, until the 1880s, mostly wealthy dilettantes who could fund their travel privately, or diplomats and envoys. When the British seized power in Egypt, it opened the door for ordinary people to visit the region. “Missionaries, soldiers and spies as well as tourists and explorers started to visit the area, creating an ever bigger supply of writers, and market for their books.” – but as British power faded after World War II, so did both the demand for and providers of these traveler’s tales. In this book, James Canton studies “over one hundred primary sources, from forgotten gems to the classics of T E Lawrence, Thesiger and Philby.” in order to understand the Middle East Travel-Writing phenomenon and how it relates to Imperial Britain. More importantly, there are numerous excerpts from the source material, providing the reader/GM with ample flavor encounters for the region.

New Hardcover copies are out of reach at $52.66 ($110 from Amazon), but there are 16 used copies at $6.29. On top of that, Amazon have the Paperback at $24 – but third parties have 29 new copies at $11.58 and 12 used at $12.56.


473. Lonely Planet Arab Gulf States: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia & the United Arab Emirates – Gordon Robison

As with the travel guides to Africa, the only one that takes a regional approach is Lonely Planet. There is a newer edition of the guide but changes happen so quickly and substantially in the Middle East that the space devoted to recent developments is wasted for our purposes, so the older one is fine – so long as cheap copies last. This edition dates back to 1993 and is 300 pages in length. There are 8 new copies starting at $15.68 and 33 used copies costing at least one cent.


474. Living and Working in Saudi Arabia: A Survival Handbook – Robert Hughes

Customer comments make clear that this 2004 guide is nowhere near adequate for actually going to work in the Gulf region for an extended period, but as a quick introduction suitable for keeping brief visitors with a modicum of common sense out of trouble for a few days, this does the job, and does it far better than any of the other culture guides which contain information that has been branded not only incorrect but potentially dangerous, incomplete, or out of date long before they actually saw print. So this 420-page effort gets our tick of approval. There are 6 new from $17.28 and 28 used starting at one cent.


475. Gurps Arabian Nights – Phil Masters (Steve Jackson Games)

While this setting predates the pulp era, it is easily transferable and full of pulp-era possibilities.

Books about Persia/Iran



476. Exploring Iran: The Photography of Erich F Schmidt 1930-1940 – Ayse Gursan-Salzmann

In 1931, the Penn Museum sponsored an archaeological expedition to Iran for the first time. Erich F Schmidt excavated the “Bronze Age site of Tipe Hissar near the town of Dmghan and the monumental buildings of the pre-Islamic Sasanian Palace.” In the course of the dig, Schmidt “documented the project with nearly 2,600 … photos” of “desert and mountain tribes, the sites, government administrators, and a full panoply of the people he encountered.” In this book, the author has selected “64 memorable and instructive prints from the Museum’s archives” and “assembled dozens more from the Schmidt Collection, Chicago’s Oriental Institute, and from family members for an accompanying CD-ROM.” A second supplemental package was assembled in 2007. Both these archives of additional material may be downloaded in PDF form by going to; the links to each archive are near the bottom of the page. Opening an archive page and scrolling to the bottom will take you to the PDFs, which contain the additional photographs.

This hardcover book is 112 pages and published by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. Amazon list it for $29.95 (adding that it is ‘temporarily out of stock’) but third party vendors have 19 new at $17.52 and 14 used at $19.97.


477. Iran Culture Smart: The essential guide to Customs and Culture – Stuart Williams

This is the best-rated travel guide with a substantial review total. “Travelers have long been seduced by the echoes of the extraordinary ancient history contained in the word “Persia.” But Iran is also a modern society that is experiencing great change. Although it is still feeling the effects of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, social restrictions have loosened considerably in recent years. Strict Islamic rules coexist with an increasingly dynamic society driven by an overwhelmingly young population. Animosity toward the West at a political level sits side-by-side with a wholehearted welcome for foreigners as individuals.” One customer claims to have put it down as worthless after reading only a few pages, with no indication of any first-hand experience before or after, but many others report that its content exactly matched their experiences when visiting Iran. Which is good enough for us.

During the Pulp period, there had, as yet, been no US intervention and a Shah still reigned; but if you replace “American” (or similar terms) with “British” or “Catholic”, you won’t be too far off the mark, as the major cause of official friction with Iran at the time was the Crusades, and the evidence is that their reaction was exactly the same: welcoming of individuals, hostile toward the government and institutions. Kindle and Paperback, new copies are currently cheaper and more plentiful than used.


478. The Valleys of the Assassins and other Persian Travels – Freya Stark

First published in 1934, “The Valleys of the Assassins” established Stark as “one of her generation’s most intrepid explorers”. The book “chronicles her travels into Luristan, the mountainous terrain nestled between Iraq and present-day Iran, often with only a single guide and on a shoestring budget” – and, of course, she wrote about what she found and who she met. 320 pages of real-life pulp-era encounters and scenes for the GM to plunder.

Hardcover: $45 used, $59.95 collectible, no other new copies. Paperback: $13.59 new from Amazon, 57 new through others starting at $8.40, and 45 used copies for $2.97.

Books about Turkey



479. The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East – Eugene Rogan

The most significant event to occur in Turkey prior to the Pulp Era was the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. Arguably more catastrophic than the Great Depression, the aftermath saw the partition of Ottoman lands, laying the foundation for the conflicts that trouble the Arab world to this day. This book studies not only the course of the war within the Middle East but the aftermath. This book received rave reviews from a number of high-profile sources – everyone from the Guardian (UK) to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. 331 Customer Reviews at Amazon give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. The most common complaint is that the map is missing from the Kindle Edition and it’s impossible to follow the situation as it develops without one. The second most common complaint is that the writing style is dry, factual, and non-narrative. Which is what we generally expect from a scholarly analysis, though we can’t speak for anyone else. 512 pages. Kindle (not recommended) $11.40, Hardcover $19.75 (Amazon) plus third-party 67 new from $15.57 and used from $12.02; Paperback $11.48 (Amazon) plus from third parties, 39 new from $11.29 and 13 used starting at $13.36.




480. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Turkey

Customer ratings and reviews establish this as currently the best available travel guide to Turkey, which is probably why Amazon has run out of copies – but if they had them, they would charge $30 for one. Other vendors still have some – 16 new starting at $7.99 and 27 used starting at one cent. Given that this is a 2014 edition, we would expect a new edition soon (if there isn’t one already that is not so highly rated).


481. Turkey Culture Smart: The essential guide to customs and culture (2nd edition) – Charlotte McPherson

All the Culture Guides to Turkey had similar (excellent) ratings, but this is the most affordable. That said, the most serious objection is a substantial one: omissions of significant content that should be there – IF this was a travel guide and not a Cultural reference. Honestly, some people… 168 pages; Kindle and paperback. Amazon’s stocks are beginning to get low, but it’s so much cheaper (either new or used) that this shouldn’t bother anyone for a fair while.

Books about Istanbul



482. Living In Istanbul – Jerome Darblay

The diverse cultures – Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Turkish, and more – that have resided in Istanbul have left their marks on the architectural style of the city, producing in the most elegant of buildings a stylistic fusion that cannot be found anywhere else. This specially-commissioned photographic collection unveils the secrets of the city and its many wonders. Incorporates a visitor’s guide to “hotels, restaurants, traditional shops, museums and other attractions” – at least some of which will be useful to the Pulp GM.
New copies of this 256 page book are beyond any reasonable budget at $56.16, but used copies are quite affordable, starting at $4.96.


483. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Istanbul

This 280-page guide has all the usual features of a DK Travel Guide – cutaway 3D diagrams, floor plans, maps, etc – and comes with a pull out map (possibly missing in used copies). Paperback, $19.06 from Amazon (only 17 in stock); third party vendors have 17 new starting at $6.99 and 33 used starting at one cent. This travel guide received ratings a full star or more (out of five) higher than the others we looked at.


For Dummies

In most cases, we haven’t read any of these, and are recommending them for consideration based purely upon the publisher’s descriptions and on general principles except where otherwise noted. This also shifts the content of each review from one of “this book is recommended and here’s why” to “this book might be useful and here’s why”. We have made the assumption that availability and price would fall within our parameters, or close enough to them; we have rarely found this not to be the case.

Selected works were so promising and so relevant, that they have been promoted to the main list of recommendations, excluding them from the above caveats.

A notes about Complete Idiot’s Guides

While the “For Dummies” series has a website that lists all the books currently available in the series, there is no equivalent for the “Complete Idiot’s Guides”.

Our blanket advice is that if Amazon lists a “Complete Idiot’s Guide” that matches the subject of one of our “For Dummies” recommendations, you should buy both.

Dummies Books about the Middle East:



484. The Middle East For Dummies – Craig S. Davis

This is one of those books whose relevance is uncertain. An awful lot has changed, politically, since the pulp era, and our concern is that this will focus on the modern-day and not the historical periods that are Pulp-relevant. One thing that emerged from the Gulf Wars and the hunt for Osama Bin-Laden is that Americans don’t know enough about the Middle East, and at least half of what they think they know is incorrect in some degree. This is largely confirmed by the lengths that NCIS: Los Angeles has to go to in order to explain and provide context for, many of the middle-eastern oriented episodes. About 50 pages of this book seem to be at least semi-relevant but most of it is questionable in terms of a Pulp context. Worth buying a very cheap copy.


Books about Egypt & Egyptology



485. Liberalism Without Democracy: Nationhood and Citizenship in Egypt 1922-1936

“The history of Western intervention in the Middle East stretches from the late eighteenth century to the present day. All too often, the Western rationale for invading and occupying a country to liberate its people has produced new forms of domination that have hindered rather than encouraged the emergence of democratic politics. Following Egypt’s independence of Great Britain in 1922, “Egypt’s reformers equated liberal notions of nationhood and citizenship with European civilization and culture. … in their efforts to achieve liberalization, they sought to align Egypt with the West and to dissociate it from the Arab and Islamic worlds, but this was a period of turbulent politics and resentment towards the remaining influence of the British, so their efforts were largely in vain in terms of legislated reform; but had a great impact on the attitudes of the people.

That Political, Social, and Cultural influence and its consequences are the subject of this 216 page book from Duke University Press. Amazon want $22.95 for a new copy, but will send you a used one for $8.50. You can get a Kindle edition for $13.68. Or you can buy through a third party vendor – 27 new copies starting at $6.98 and 25 used starting from $2.77.


486. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Egypt

There are a lot of Egypt travel guides, as you can imaging, but this one with 4.5 stars out of five from 152 reviews, is the most popular. The customary DK features are included. 360 pages, new from Amazon for $17 or from third party vendors for $11.48; used copies are from $12.88.


487. Egypt Culture Smart (2nd edition) – Jailan Zayan

It was difficult to predict how useful this guide would be since it has been updated to incorporate the Secular Revolution of January 2011. This event clearly changed the country, but how much did it change the culture, and how much had the culture already changed since the Pulp Era? Were the people completely different? We got the answers to these questions towards the end of the product description of this book, just as it had raised the questions: “this new edition of Culture Smart! Egypt explores the codes and paradoxes of Egyptian life. It outlines the countries’ history and shows the forces that have shaped its sensibility. It explains values and attitudes, and guides you through local customs and traditions. It opens a window into the private lives of Egyptians, how they behave at home, and how they interact with foreign visitors.” Clearly, cultural patterns were more robust than any mere political changes that had taken place; in fact, it was more likely that the political change was a consequence of a cultural shift, the long-term impact of the liberalism movement, perhaps? 168 pages, Kindle $7.14, Paperback $8.83 from Amazon, 22 new from $3.23, 19 used from $3.22.


488. The Nile: Traveling Downriver Through Egypt’s Past and Present – Tony Wilkinson

It’s one thing to be taken on a tour by a tour guide, and quite another to be escorted by a renowned expert in the field of the sights that you will be seeing. This book is the next best thing – a virtual tour down the Nile by noted Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson, starting near the city of Aswan and end in Cairo, stopping off at the Valley Of the Kings and other points of interest along the way. 336 pages, Hardcover, Paperback, and Audible versions.

Books about Cairo



489. Cairo – Andre Raymond

The first thing to note about this book is the dimensions – almost ten inches by almost twelve-and-a-half, and more than an inch-and-a-half thick. In fact, the page count is 496 pages. When you see those stats, you should immediately think photographs, and you would be correct in doing so. This book covers, in images, the Cairo region’s history from before the city was founded in 969AD all the way to the 21st century. In that time, Cairo has been conquered many times, and each of the reigns are represented in the more than 600 photographs, reproductions and maps. A full bibliography, glossary, timeline, and index means that this book is the foundation for a researcher to investigate whatever takes his fancy more fully. Available affordably in both used hardcover and used or new paperback.


490. Cairo Illustrated – Michael Haag

This is also a photographic collection, but a considerably smaller one – 96 pages, 10.9 by 7.8 inches. Of particular interest amongst the 150+ photographs are exhibits from the Islamic, Coptic, and Egyptian Antiquities museums, but the remainder of the city is also explored. New copies cost $20 from Amazon, but third party vendors have 20 new copies from $11.52 and 13 used for $5.01.


491. Cities, Citadels, and Sights of the Near East: Francis Bedford’s Nineteenth-Century Photographs of Egypt, the Levant, and Constantinople – Sophie Gordon and Bard El Hage

Arguably, the only thing that might be more evocative than modern photographs might be images of the period. These proved hard to track down – there might be one collection in the honorable mentions if copies are still available when it gets revealed to the public late in the series – but even older photographs might be the next best thing. In 1862, the Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Victoria, embarked on a grand tour of the Middle East. Accompanying the royal party was a practitioner of the new art of photography, Francis Bedford; his mission was to capture images of the places visited by the young Prince.

“The result is an extraordinary collection of some of the best early photographs of Cairo and the temples of Upper Egypt, Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Lebanon and Damascus, Izmir and Constantinople. From timeless views of the Pyramids, the Dome of the Rock, Baalbek, and Hagia Sophia to scenes from another age of the streets of Cairo or tall ships on the Bosphorus, 120 of Bedford’s most outstanding photographs are showcased”.

We don’t think these locations would have changed all that much in the 50-odd years that separates this journey from the Pulp Era – the world moved at a more stately pace back then – aside from the differences in fashion, of course. The paperback is not at an agreeable price – 2 copies at $91 or more – but the Flexibound edition is more accessible; 28 new from $20.14 and 12 used from $10.80.


492. Cairo: The Practical Guide

With the visuals sorted, let’s turn to practical knowledge of the city and its contents. We usually employ travel guides in that capacity, and the older the better in most cases – at least up to a point. But for Cairo, we uncovered a series of gems – books that aren’t so much interested in the tourist attractions or even the culture, but in the practicalities of living in Cairo either briefly or for a longer period as the locals do. “The basics of daily life – finding a flat, transporting personal goods, investigating school options for children, navigating Egypt’s famous bureaucracy, and the intricacies of feeding and clothing oneself and one’s family from the local market – are all detailed here. Advice gathered from a wide range of Cairo insiders, both native and foreign, gives the reader a cornucopia of current facts on prices, neighborhoods, product availability, work and business opportunities, and the dizzying range of cultural and leisure pursuits that Cairo is famous for.” In addition, there are an “A-to-Z directory of goods, services, and interests subdivided by neighborhood; a language section on the basics of Cairene Arabic; and details on shopping and sightseeing from a resident’s perspective.”

Nothing there that a GM can use, then. And if you believe that, there’s a bridge for sale in Brooklyn…

2008 (16th) Edition by Lesley Labahidi – Paperback, 256 pages; New from Amazon $10.95 or 12 from third-party vendors starting at $6 or 17 used from $0.36.

2010 (17th) Edition by Claire E Francy and Lesley Labahidi – Paperback, 225 pages; New from Amazon $18.95 (but we don’t trust this to refer to this edition) or 11 from third-parties from $11.08 or 18 used at one cent.

2011 (18th) Edition by Lesley Labahidi (pictured) – Paperback, 256 pages; Amazon quote $18.08 but state that it’s out of stock; 26 new from third parties from $11.33 or 15 used from $1.49.


493. Cairo: The City Victorious – Max Rodebbeck

“With intimate knowledge, humor, and affection, Rodenbeck [the author] takes us on an insider’s tour of the magnificent city: its back-streets and bazaars, its belly-dance theaters and hashish dens, its crowded slums and fashionable salons, its incomparably rich past and its challenging future.” 320 pages, paperback or hardcover, 165 new and used copies all told, and all quite affordable.


494. Insight Guide to Cairo

Given the number of guides we’ve offered so far, and the list of books to come, we had to choose this as our city guide-book due to the emphasis that the Insight Guides place on the local culture and despite a general lack of information about this specific title in the series. 281 pages, 2003 edition, 9 new from $47.16 (too much for our standards) and 20 used from $0.13.


495. Cairo: City Of Sand – Maria Golia

“Cairo is a 1,400-year-old metropolis whose streets are inscribed with sagas, a place where the pressures of life test people’s equanimity to the very limit. Virtually surrounded by desert, sixteen million Cairenes cling to the Nile and each other, proximities that color and shape lives. Packed with incident and anecdote Cairo: City of Sand describes the city’s given circumstances and people’s attitudes of response. Apart from a brisk historical overview, this book focuses on the present moment of one of the world’s most illustrious and irreducible cities.” It’s those incidents and anecdotes that are of interest here, and how many of them might be translatable backward in time to the 20s and 30s, when the city was far smaller in both population and capacity.

In addition, “Cairo steps inside the interactions between Cairenes, examining the roles of family, tradition and bureaucracy in everyday life. The book explores Cairo’s relationship with its “others”, from the French and British occupations to modern influences like tourism and consumerism. Cairo also discusses characteristic styles of communication, and linguistic memes, including slang, grandiloquence, curses and jokes.” And parts of that – the British Occupation and the communications information – are either directly relevant or easily transferable.

Kindle and Paperback, 224 pages; 11 new from $7.64 and 25 used from $0.01.

Ancient Egypt



496. Egypt: The World Of The Pharaohs – Matthias Seidel and Regin Schulz

This 480 page book is a treasure trove for understanding ancient egypt – even though the product description text claims “over 500 pages”. It covers everything from architecture, sculpture, and painting to everyday life, statecraft, society, and – of course – religion. The paperback is way out of reach – one new copy at $94.66 and one used at $79.73 – but the hardcover still has copies at reasonable prices: Amazon $20.39 (only 11 in stock), third-party 36 new starting at $15.55 (slightly more expensive than Amazon with P&H) and 14 used starting at $16.54 (slightly more expensive again).


497. The Age Of God-Kings – Time-Life

The Age Of The God-Kings – volume I of the Time-Life History of The World – a great reference for Egyptian stuff. Also covers Crete, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and early China as bonuses.


498. The Ancient Egyptians For Dummies – Charlotte Booth

Ancient Egypt has a fascination that can be hard to explain, but that is undeniable, and is a major resource for Pulp GMs to tap into. But most modern people will think of it as a whole, indivisible unit, building pyramids from start to finish, and worshiping a strange pantheon of deities throughout, just as many people think dinosaurs and stone-age humans coincided. Just as Walking With Dinosaurs should have corrected that misinterpretation (which might be entirely correct in a pulp world if you just replace “stone-age” with “modern-day” and look in the right place), this book should correct a lot of misinterpretations about Ancient Egypt and its cultures. 354 pages; Kindle $15.04, Paperback $16.69 (Amazon, only 5 copies left), from $12.69 (19 New), $1.144 (27 Used).


499. The Traveler’s Key to Ancient Egypt: A Guide to Sacred Places – John Anthony West

“This book explains he deeper meaning and spiritual significance of Egypt’s art and architecture. This revised and updated edition includes ‘startling evidence’ for the need to re-date the sphinx. Which kinda makes him sound like He’s out with the pixies, but the customer comments suggest otherwise. The missing phrase is, “that the ancient Egyptians attached to this art and architecture. The page-count is 512 and it’s available in both hardcover and softcover. New copies in either form are expensive – $68.57 and $43.22, respectively; but used copies of th paperback start at $4.08 and there are 34 of them available.


500. Life In The Land Of The Pharaohs

This is part of the Journeys Into The Past series by Reader’s Digest. It is more about the way things were than about the way they are, but that can be incredibly useful in working out what would be where when tombs etc are discovered. Which doesn’t happen every other week, even in a pulp campaign, but does occasionally occur – or should. Bizarrely, our reference copy is bound back-to-front.


501. The Right Hand Of Amon – Lauren Haney

This is a most unusual recommendation in light of our terms of reference, but Mike has convinced us. The Right Hand Of Amon is historical crime-fiction set in ancient Egypt and, according to him, does “an unbelievably good job of bringing the time to life on the page”.

He also wanted to mention the sequel, A Face Turned Backward, which – from the back-cover – sounds even better, but which he found almost unreadable, especially in comparison to the first – but that may have been because he could never just sit and read for an hour or so to get into it; by the time he got to each piece of the story, he had forgotten who was who. He does think that the gap in between reading the first and the second might also be part of the problem, so your experience might be completely different. There have been many more sequels since, but he hasn’t read any of them. But this is on top of his go-to list for Ancient Egyptian flavor text.

15 new from $3.47, 47 used from $0.01 and there are more copies in other formats.


502. Confronting Fascism in Egypt: Dictatorship vs Democracy in the 1930s – Israel Gershoni and James Jankowski

“Offers a new reading of the political and intellectual culture of Egypt during the inter-war era. Though scholarship has commonly emphasized Arab political and military support of Axis powers, this work reveals that the shapers of Egyptian public opinion were largely unreceptive to fascism, openly rejecting totalitarian ideas and practices, Nazi racism, and Italy’s and Germany’s expansionist and imperialist agendas. The majority (although not all) of Egyptian voices supported liberal democracy against the fascist challenge, and most Egyptians sought to improve and reform, rather than to replace and destroy, the existing constitutional and parliamentary system.” Is this rewriting history? Or is it discovering the truth? Reality may decide for itself, one way or another; when it comes to the Pulp world, the GM has the call. Before being able to make his ruling, though, he needs to know the story as presented in this interpretation of historic record – and can then decide whether his campaign world is better off with a Pro-fascist Egypt, or an Egypt trying to steer a safe course through troubled diplomatic waters – perhaps while dealing with other, more dangerous, threats from the past…


Books about The Atlantic

The Atlantic Ocean is a turbulent body of water that contrasts starkly with the relatively placid Mediterranean. Consequently, the Atlantic has always fascinated artists and poets, and challenged explorers and fishermen. Constantly changing shape and size, always traveling, pulled by tides and pushed by storms, powerful and threatening. Strangely, there don’t seem to be any books about it specifically.


503. Lightships: Floating Lighthouses of the Mid-Atlantic – Wayne Kirklin

We had a bunch of books listed here, when the list was in draft form, about Lighthouses. Ultimately, none of them were deemed important enough, in a pulp context, to be included. But at the bottom of that list was this book, about something none of us – not being from that part of the world – had known about, and it seemed to have potential simply because of that quality of eyebrow-raising “I never knew that”, and because the isolation factor that is a normal element to lighthouse stories is doubled and squared when you’re talking about a lightship.

So, if you don’t know, what is a Lightship? Before radar, depth-finders, and GPS, they were vessels that lingered off-shore in perilous waters to warn other vessels of the danger. A Lighthouse actually on the sea. They stayed out there in all weather, and from 1820 to 1985, these 85 ships protected the mid-Atlantic seacoast of the United States, undoubtedly saving thousands of lives and millions of dollars worth of cargo from a disastrous end somewhere between New York Harbor and the infamous Cape Fear in North Carolina.

This book tells the individual stories of each of those eighty-five vessels, a forgotten but vital element of maritime history that was in full flower during the Pulp Period. 128 pages, Kindle and Paperback, considerably cheaper through Amazon’s third-party vendors.


504. Life Aboard a Coast Guard Lightship – Rongner E George

The value of this book should be obvious after the introduction to the previous one.


505. Pirates of the North Atlantic

In the 17th, 18th, and 19th century, the Northern Atlantic was an extremely attractive location for piracy. This book collects stories of acts of greed and murder tied mostly to the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. There has been some romanticization of the stories, some myths perpetuated – but for pulp purposes, in which the legacies of some of these acts might form part of a plotline, we’re fine with that. 128 pages, Kindle and paperback.


506. Hurricanes of the North Atlantic: Climate and Society

Mike will never forget the description of the North Atlantic in the Clive Cussler novel “Raise The Titanic” (ignore the movie, which is nowhere near as good). He insisted that this list had to contain some sort of reference to the storms and climate for which the winter Ocean is notorious, but a protracted search found only this book (and one other, below) to reference the meteorology of the Atlantic – or, at least, that did so within our tolerance parameters.

This book is a comprehensive analysis of these storms, their meteorology, and their impacts on both human and property scales, as of the end of the 20th century. 512 pages from Oxford University Press, new copies cost $35.80 or more, 25 used copies are available from $12.01.

vanilla flowers vector image by sunshine 91

Image: / sunshine 91

We are extremely mindful of the most recent such weather condition (Hurricane Matthew), and the terrible death toll it has caused, just as we were aware of Hurricane Katrina and Sandy when those events were occurring, and hope that the recovery processes are quick and successful.

Our sincere sympathies and condolences to anyone affected.



507. The 1938 Hurricane Along New England’s Coast

He also came across this book documenting such a storm in the late Pulp Period that struck the coast of New England, one of the most potent weather systems to affect the region since records began. There are a series of similar books, but this is the only one that Mike spotted relating to the Pulp Era – he probably missed some, he admits. Paperback only, 29 new from $12.43, 17 used from $7.98.

Books About Shipwrecks



508. Shipwrecks Along the Atlantic Coast: A Remarkable Collection Of Photographs of Maritime Accidents from Maine to Florida – William Quinn

A collection of Atlantic Coast shipwrecks featuring more than 300 photos ranging from the earliest days of photography to modern days.

1988 edition (232 pages, hardcover): 1 collectible copy at $16, 8 New from $17.94, 32 used from $1.79.

2004 edition (pictured, 240 pages, reissued hardcover with slightly smaller page dimensions): 3 collectible at $18, 7 new from $42.37, 21 used from $5.12.


509. Disasters at Sea: A Visual History of Infamous Shipwrecks – Liz Mechem

More than sixty accounts of the most notorious shipwrecks of history, accompanied by maps and details both factual and speculative. 192 pages, Kindle and paperback.


510. Graveyard of the Atlantic: Shipwrecks of the North Carolina Coast – David Stick

A completely factual account of dramatic shipwrecks, heroic rescues, and violent adventures off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There is a reason why the place is known as Cape Fear… 287 pages, published by the University of North Carolina Press, reprint edition. Kindle and paperback.


511. Aground on Cape Cod!: A treasure-trove of beachcomber booty & sunken ships buried beneath the shores of olde Cape Cod, ‘The graveyard of the Atlantic’ – Noel W Beyle

That rather lengthy subtitle is almost all that is known about this 48-page book. Paperback, 10 used copies available, so it normally wouldn’t make our criteria, but the pulp potential of a shipwreck is too great to ignore.


512. Lost Treasure Ships of the Northern Seas: A Guide and Gazetteer to 2000 Years of Shipwrecks

Unlike most of the books listed so far, which have been America-focused, this book deals with the Northern European side of the Atlantic (actually the North Sea and the Baltic, so this is a bit of a ringer), where hundreds of wrecks lie in relatively shallow waters. A significant portion can be considered high-value either historically or financial reward, but few have ever been precisely located – the term ‘few’ being a relative one, of course. This book lists 500 of them, giving precise details of vessel, voyage, cargo, and current state of knowledge. An introductory section provides twenty case studies chosen to “illustrate the range of problems – and rewards – likely to be encountered by anyone diving on the sites”. “Heavily Illustrated”. 224 pages, hardcover, from $3.43.


513. Doomed Ships: Great Ocean Liner Disasters – William H Miller Jr

Naval historian William H. Miller, Jr. recounts the dramatic stories behind a host of ill-fated passenger ships, going beyond newspaper headlines and formal inquiries to offer firsthand accounts of heroic rescues, daring escapes, and tragic losses. Starting with the torpedoing of the Lusitania in 1915 and concluding in 2005 with the capsize of the Oriana during a Chinese typhoon, these are the world’s most ill-starred vessels: The Titanic has been deliberately excluded because it is so well documented elsewhere. “Almost 200 photographs, many from private collections” provide graphic punctuation to this combination of personal anecdote and historical record.

Books About Ghost Ships



514. Ghost Ships: Tales of Abandoned, Doomed, and Haunted Vessels – Dr Angus Konstam

An anthology of the best true-life accounts of vessels that for one reason or another, never got to where they were going. 144 pages. Amazon has multiple listings for this book but only this one had the copies and price to meet our standards – one optimist wants over $1000 for his copy!

Paperback: 7 new from $64.60, 25 used from $3.86.
Hardcover: 8 New from $55, 22 used from $7.64.


515. Ghost Ships: True Stories of Nautical Nightmares, Hauntings, and Disasters – Richard Winer

There are also multiple listings for this book, with two priced acceptably within our standards. The author also appears in our Bermuda Triangle section, a history that led some reviewers to question the authenticity of this collection. Unlike the Konstam, this collection actually tries to be scary. It is likely that accounts have been dressed up somewhat (and some may be entirely fictional despite the subtitle), but that can only make them more useful to the Pulp GM because they would require less work to adapt. 288 pages, Mass-market paperback.

First Listing: 7 new from $57.43, 31 used from 1 cent.

Second Listing: 5 new from $124.18, 7 used from $3.86.


516. Haunted Ships of the North Atlantic – Robert Ellis Cahill

More of the same in this 88-page book. The only customer review is a pertinent warning: “The book is easy to read and a short read. But I’m not sure of the veracity of some of these stories.

“The author relates the (since disproven) story of the wreck of the ‘Palatine’ on Block Island, and how the islanders robbed and murdered the survivors. The ship that wrecked on Block Island was actually the ‘Princess Augusta’ carrying people from a part of Germany called something like ‘Palatine’. The islanders actually helped the survivors and for many years have been trying to set the record straight.

“He also relates the (also disproven) story of crewman Frank ‘Lucky’ Towers. Towers supposedly survived the ‘Titanic’, the ‘Empress of Ireland’, and the ‘Lusitania’. There is no evidence of such a person. I don’t know where the story came from.” – F S Frederick.


517. Ghost Ships of New England – Christopher Rondina

“A ghostly schooner glides through the mist off the coast of Maine. A Connecticut lighthouse keeper continues to guide ships to safe harbor nearly a century after his death. Pirate ghosts wander the Rhode Island shoreline in search of salvation. These are only a few of the strange but true stories of New England’s phantom ships and the spectral seafarers who haunt the shadowy cliffs and moonlit coves of the Northeast.” Well, they are allegedly true in our book, but that hasn’t stopped us from using such material in our Pulp Campaign and it won’t keep us from listing this book. 174 page paperback; 1 collectible at $15.80, 16 new from $7 and 17 used from $4.34.

‘Buried Treasure’ will be found on the ‘Games, Odds & Sods’ Shelf.

Books About The Bermuda Triangle



518. The Bermuda Triangle (Call Of Cthulhu Sourcebook) – Justin Schmid

Has street maps of some of the major cities of the region, worth it for those if nothing else.


519. The Bermuda Triangle Mystery Solved – Larry Kusche

In 1972, Larry Kusche, a reference librarian who was fascinated by the Bermuda Triangle mystery, decided to collect all the first-hand information that he could find from the original records. Obtaining information from sources as diverse as the US Coast Guard, US Air Force, and Lloyd’s Of London, and obtaining microfilm copies of the newspapers containing the original reports of the various incidents. By the time his research was complete, he found that every incident could be explained if not dismissed completely, and concluded that the only reason that this had not been discovered sooner was that hyperbole, superstition, and exaggeration had become a self-propelling cultural phenomenon that viewed every event through a distorted perspective that reinforced the myth.

This book pretty much debunks the entire concept of the Bermuda Triangle, reducing it to the status of myth. We actually find his explanations slightly too pat, trying too hard to be complete – the North Atlantic in winter has more than enough extreme weather to cause a few maritime losses, and the absence of them seems improbable. If you decide that in your campaign the Bermuda Triangle is a myth, this is the reference book that you need to devour. If you decide otherwise, this is the book that you need to debunk. Either way, this is a book that you need.


520. The Devil’s Triangle – Richard Winer

Despite the lurid title, this is a fairly balanced examination of the Bermuda Triangle that neither denies the strangeness of some of the reported events in that body of water nor resorts to an occult/weirdness explanation as a first resort. Unfortunately, according to other reviewers, the book is riddled with historical inaccuracies.

Perhaps most interesting and illuminating are the near misses, events in which only a slight turn of luck to the worse would have been need to add to the roster of disappearances. Better still, the author is himself a sailor familiar with that part of the world and gives great descriptions of the appearances of various weather and maritime phenomena.

There is also a sequel but there weren’t enough copies available for that to be listed; you will find it in the honorable mentions.


521. From The Devil’s Triangle to the Devil’s Jaw – Richard Winer

The sequel to “The Devil’s Triangle 2” which is the sequel to “The Devil’s Triangle.” Disturbingly, this book has exactly the same reader’s comments as those for “The Devil’s Triangle”- verbatim. That, coupled with the fact that clicking on the “see all editions” for “The Devil’s Triangle 2” takes you to copies of “The Devil’s Triangle” leaves all information and reviews of this book suspect, at the very least.

According to the front cover, this book provides “New startling evidence of mysterious disappearances around the world – phantom ships, bizarre sinkings, lost souls, [and] unexplained disasters” being “published for the first time”. That, plus a review on Goodreads, which describes it as, “A bunch of maritime accidents strung together with unsupported speculation regarding supernatural, paranormal, extraterrestrial and inter-dimensional influences. Silly if taken at face value, but a degree of interest if considered as a kind of modern folklore” tends to reinforce those opinions which suggest a less than objective positioning on the subject – and a trend toward even more extreme perspective with subsequent books. This book includes many events outside the Bermuda Triangle.


522. The Bermuda Triangle – Charles Berlitz

For an awful lot of people, this is the first book that they ever read about the Bermuda Triangle. A lot of reviews are extremely critical – “If you are a totally uncritical thinker… you’ll love this book”. There are also reports of factual discrepancies and suggestions that these are deliberate acts by Berlitz – or by the people Berlitz is lifting his information from, to offer another criticism we’ve heard – to make the disappearances tell a better story.

All that said, it’s fine to revise history in order to create a better campaign – so if you decide to make the Triangle real, this book might just be your bible, or one of them, anyway. Available in cheap copies in two formats – hardcover and paperback, both starting at just one cent. Postage and Handling will probably be higher for the hardcover, but you might feel it’s worth it for the more durable volume.


523. Limbo Of The Lost – John Wallace Spencer

There are two editions of this book; the second edition, which is the one we have linked to, is “revised and expanded with 16 pages of illustrations” according to the title on Amazon.. This suffers from many of the problems ascribed to Berlitz’ book (above); in fact, it mentions so many things in passing and without depth of analysis that it is arguably more superficial, and even plays faster-and-looser with the facts than that. But if you’ve ever heard the theory that there’s a portal into some sort of other dimension that sucks up ships and aircraft when the weather is foul in the Triangle, this is the book that popularized the notion (even generated it, according to some).


Books about Antarctica



524 Antarctica: An Intimate Portrait of a Mysterious Continent – Gabrielle Walker

“Antarctica is the most alien place on the planet, the only part of the earth where humans could never survive unaided. Out of our fascination with it have come many books, most of which focus on only one aspect of its unique strangeness. None has managed to capture the whole story – until now.” This book has rave reviews from Booklist, the New York Review Of Books, Nature, and many more. 416 page Hardcover; 1 collectible at $12, 41 new from $7.71, and 38 used from one cent.


525. Lonely Planet Antarctica: A Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit

Yes, my friend, there are travel guides to Antarctica, and have been for a surprisingly long time. The product description sounds like a minor variation on a canned summary, which assumes a macabre new significance when you realize where it’s talking about: “provides information necessary to visitors on all budgets, including advice on getting there, accommodation, local cuisine, places to visit, language tips, and health and safety.”

1996 edition: 336 page paperback by Jeff Rubin (Pictured); 1 collectible at $12.99, 7 new from $1.99, 31 used from one cent.

2000 edition: 375 page paperback by Jeff Rubin: 11 new from $1.99, 35 used from one cent.

2012 edition: 224 page paperback by Alexis Averbuck: Kindle $15.99, 52 new from $13.03, 30 used from $10.84.

Of these, we recommend the 2000 edition as the best; when they run out, the 1996 edition because it’s the cheaper of the alternatives. Unfortunately, it also has the least attractive cover.


Books about The Arctic



526. The Arctic Guide: Wildlife of the Far North – Sharon Chester

This 544-page book “covers the complete spectrum of wildlife–more than 800 species of plants, fishes, butterflies, birds, and mammals–that inhabit the Arctic’s polar deserts, tundra, taiga, sea ice, and oceans. Published by Princeton University Press, with a load of color illustrations and a full-color population distribution map to show where different creatures can be located. Kindle $15.28, Paperback 53 New from $11.99 20 Used from $18.49, there is a hardcover but prices are around the $70+ mark, so forget it.


527. Dancing On Ice: A 1930s Arctic Adventure – Jeremy Scott

This is useful beyond the story of the expedition itself; it “douses the reader with lush descriptions of the jaunty era that produced these men” according to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. This book tells the tale of one of the most harebrained adventures imaginable: 14 young men with barely any experience between them decide to travel to the Arctic and stay there for a year. Led by Gino Watkins, they “charted the east coast of Greenland, discovered a mountain range, ate polar bears, and taught the Inuit to dance the Charleston.” But there was an equal measure of tragedy and hardship to match the adventure and achievements. Paperback: 1 collectible at $34, 6 new from $39, and 19 used from $0.98. Hardcover: 1 collectible at $79, 9 new from $39, 17 used from $0.49.


528. Arctic Village: A 1930s Portrait of Wiseman, Alaska – Robert Marshall

Written by one of America’s foremost conservationists of the era, this is an account of the people of the North. First published more than 75 years ago, the book is still a favorite among old-time Alaskans. Marshall is careful in his descriptions of the characters that he met in the town of Wiseman. 428 pages. Forget the hardcover version, they cost too much. There are 20 new copies of the paperback and 24 used, at $13.66 and $3.97, respectively.


529. True North: Peary, Cook, and the Race To The Pole – Bruce Henderson

Who got to the North Pole first? According to a lot of the history books, it was Peary – but he had a rival, who claimed to have beaten him there, and there was evidence that Peary had never achieved the feat he claimed. Even today, the controversy is unresolved, though opinion is slowly swinging toward supporting Cook’s claim. This book examines both claims without prejudice and tells the story of the subsequent dispute. Amazon have multiple listings for this book and the prices vary wildly. The one below is the only one that came closest to our criteria: 8 new copies $12.58 and 7 used from $10.65.


Books about The Hollow Earths



530. Hollow Earth – David Standish

An overview volume and excellent starting point.


531 The Hollow Earth – Dr Raymond Bernard

Another and somewhat flakier general volume, not quite as comprehensive as the Standish book.


532. Lost Continents and The Hollow Earth – David Hatcher Childress & Richard Shaverology

Largely a reprint of Shaver’s “I Remember Lemuria”, which is useful if you can’t get the original. Also takes information from “Subterranean Worlds” by Walter Kafton-Minkel (the last hundred pages) and rephrases it (also useful if you can’t get the original. We looked at including that volume in our recommendations but copies are just too expensive). Also has an excellent bibliography for further research.


533. Finding Lost Atlantis Inside The Hollow Earth – Brinsley Le Poer Trench

A former member of Britain’s House Of Lords combines Hollow Earth, UFO, and Atlantis lore and legend. One of the more ‘out-there’ books on the subject – not necessarily a bad thing in this context!


534. The Best Of The Hollow Hassle – edited by Mary J Martins & Tim R Schwartz

From Amazon’s description: There are two sets of “unorthodox” beliefs about the interior of our planet – the theory that the earth may be “hollow” and possibly inhabited, and the second that a system of caverns exists beneath our feet that are controlled by both good and evil entities (thus the concept of a hell down below). For over 10 years the author put out a widely circulated newsletter covering this immensely popular subject. This book compiles articles on the Hollow Earth from that conspiracy magazine, including letters to the editor.


Books about Lost Cities & Civilizations



535. Gurps Aztecs: Sacrifice and Glory in a Lost Civilization – Aurelio Locsin III (Steve Jackson Games)

The Aztecs were totally alien to the lives most of us know, stranger than any fantasy land. Their empire stretched from Ocean to Ocean; they worshiped hundreds of mostly unpronounceable Gods, kept elaborate calenders and built gigantic stepped pyramids that still stand as testament to their might. Their armies were relentless and seemed unstoppable. And then a few hundred Spanish invaders toppled the entire society. This game supplement permits you to step into the Aztec culture, or its remains, as your adventure demands.


536. Gurps Vikings 1st edition – Graeme Davis

This setting may predate the pulp era but it is easily transferable and full of pulp-era possibilities. Appears to have information not present in the 2nd edition and vice-versa.


537. Gurps Vikings 2nd ed – Graeme Davis

See comments above.


538. Gurps Places of Mystery – Phil Masters & Alison Brooks

Descriptions of lost cities and many other locations suitable for high adventure.


539. The Lost City of Z – David Grann

Tells the story of the author’s search for the lost 1925 expedition of Percy Fawcett and what they were searching for in the South American jungles.


540. Disinformation Guide to Ancient Aliens, Lost Civilizations, Astonishing Archeology, and Hidden History – edited by Preston Peet

Discovered during the research for this article, this omnibus introduction to the outer fringes of archeology was too tantalizing to ignore. None of us have read it, but the list of contributors is a who’s who of the ‘field’.


541. Lost Cities & Ancient Mysteries of Africa and Arabia – David Hatcher Childress

Childress, sometimes described as “The Real Life Indiana Jones”, goes in search of lost cities and civilizations in this series. This volume deals with the Empty Quarter in Arabia, King Soloman’s Mines, ‘Atlantean’ Ruins in Egypt and the Kalahari, the Ark Of The Covenant, and more. Parts of Childress’ writing is out-with-the-pixies fantastic, but there’s room for that in a Pulp Campaign – and the balance is invaluable.


542. Lost Cities & Ancient Mysteries of South America – David Hatcher Childress

This volume continues the series, dealing with the Jungles, Deserts and Mountains of South America.


543. Lost Cities of North & Central America – David Hatcher Childress

Lost Mayan cities and books of gold and much more.


544. Lost Cities of China, Central Asia, and India – David Hatcher Childress

The Gobi desert, lost city of Rama, forgotten monasteries, Tibet, Mongolia, and more. Also available is what appears to be an older (and much shorter) edition subtitled ‘a traveler’s guide’.


545. Lost Cities of Ancient Lemuria & The Pacific – David Hatcher Childress

Strains credulity a little more than most of Childress’ books but in a pulp world, who knows?


546. Lost Cities of Atlantis, Ancient Europe, and The Mediterranean – David Hatcher Childress

From Ireland to Turkey, Morocco to Eastern Europe, Childress explores it all.


547. Lost Cities & Ancient Mysteries of the Southwest – David Hatcher Childress

A volume that even our Lost Cities collector didn’t know about. The lost mines of the Aztecs, the strange lights of Marfa, and much much more.


548. Ancient Micronesia and the Lost City of Nan Madal – David Hatcher Childress

Another tome which escaped the attention of our Childress buff. Includes Palau, Kosrae, Yap, Chuurk, Ponnpei, and Guam – and if you have only heard of half of those, you aren’t alone. This book doesn’t quite meet our standards of price and availability but is included to be comprehensive.


549. The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Lost Civilizations – Donald P Ryan

The applicability is self-evident, really. Likely to be only the broadest overview. About 270 pages appear to be entirely factual, and about 38 pages discuss subjects as rooted in scientific plausibility as Alice In Wonderland. Both can be equally useful – just in different ways.



Documentaries about Lost Civilizations



550. Quest For The Lost Maya

This National Geographic documentary is a little hard to find but well worth the effort. To quote from Amazon’s editorial review: “In the past decade, researchers working in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula have made a series of startling discoveries, revealing a gaping hole in our understanding of the Maya… could it be that what we thought we knew has suddenly turned out to be just half the story?” This documentary completely transformed our understanding of the Maya and the role that a lost tribe of them could play in the Adventurer’s Club campaign.

  • Amazon US: There’s an effectively-unlimited number of DVD copies through Amazon’s home site for $20 but these are burned to DVD-R by Amazon and may not play in all equipment.
  • Amazon UK: Copies of the US Import [NTSC Region-1] are available for reasonable prices
  • Amazon Canada: Available in a domestic version for CDN$59.05 or in the US Import version for CDN$26, less through third-party vendors (the site says “only 1 copy left, more on the way”, so this price may not last).

Books about Atlantis & Lemuria



551. The History Of Atlantis – Lewis Spence

Originally published in 1926, full of pseudo-scholarship but a fascinating extrapolation on life in Atlantis. For the first time while researching this series, it was noticed that the cover was different in all three countries – the image shown is the Amazon US version, the British version features more Greek-style architecture and pastel colors, while the Canadian version has deep blue waves lapping on a beach. In addition to the physical book, Amazon US and Canada list a Kindle edition, but (somewhat curiously), Amazon UK does not.


552. Atlantis the Antediluvian World – Ignatius Donnelly

You may also want to consider this earlier work, which is the start of the modern Atlantean Mythos. This is neither our first or second preference in Atlantis reference, but it is one that comes close to our availability/price standards. “Lost Continents” by DeCamp synopsizes this book and adds considerable new material, but we were unable to locate any copies of it. Our second choice was GURPS Atlantis, but there are nowhere near enough affordable copies of that, either.


553. Atlantis and the Kingdom Of The Neanderthals – Colin Wilson

With our two most-preferred options off the table, we went looking for alternatives and found this. It’s completely out there in terms of scientific plausibility but that doesn’t matter too much in terms of a pulp campaign. If you can’t get half-a-dozen adventures out of this book, you’re not trying hard enough (we got about that many ideas just from the Amazon review).


554. Edgar Cayce On Atlantis – Edgar Cayce

If you go with “Kingdom Of The Neanderthals”, you may as well extend the content with the technology offered in this even more out-with-the-pixies volume to have a better idea of what the Atlanteans in a Pulp World might be able to do.


555. The Atlantis Encyclopedia – Frank Joseph

Very short pieces on the myths, legends, and literature from all over the world that may pertain to Atlantis or Lemuria. Notable in that it takes a dispassionate perspective over the existence or otherwise of the reputed lost civilizations, rather than attempting to convince the reader. In addition to the physical book, Kindle editions are also available but are relatively expensive.


556. The Atlantis Conspiracy – William B Stoecker

Tries to sell the reader on the idea that the world is being controlled by a 12,000-year-old conspiracy that originated in ancient Atlantis. Very well organized, and presented with greater clarity than is often the case in such “out-with-the-pixies” material, this connects ideas as diverse as UFO Abductions, the Kennedy Assassination, Lost Civilizations (obviously) and the Paranormal into one grand theory. That level of organization is both a blessing and a curse: it makes it easier to locate and use snippets, but makes it harder to separate and isolate those parts that the pulp GM might find useful.


557. The Mythical World Of Atlantis Theories Of The Lost Empire from Plato to Disney – Jeff Kurtti and Preston B Whitmore

We haven’t actually read this book yet, so take this recommendation with a grain of salt. It looks like an Interesting overview but makes a lot of extreme claims. Has an interesting bibliography that would make a great starting point for anyone who wanted to get deeply into Atlantis mythology for their campaigns.


558. Atlantis In The Caribbean – Andrew Collins

The most recent entrant in the subject, this was published only two weeks ago as this article goes online, so we certainly haven’t read it yet. “An in-depth investigation of the mounting evidence that Atlantis was located in the Bahamas and Caribbean, near Cuba in particular. Explains how Atlantis was destroyed by a comet, the same comet that formed the mysterious Carolina Bays; Reveals evidence of complex urban ruins off the coasts of Cuba and the Bahamas; Shows how pre-Columbian mariners visited the Caribbean and brought back stories of Atlantis’ destruction; and Compares Plato’s account with ancient legends from the indigenous people of North and South America, such as the Maya, the Quiché, and the Yuchi of Oklahoma.”


559. The Problem Of Lemuria – Lewis Spencer

A detailed attempt to make the case for the existence of a “lost continent” in the pacific, this volume actually has an index (unlike most books in this area). Note that only the copies available from Amazon US come close to being reasonable in price, and copies range from limited to extremely few. Amazon US:


560. Lemuria The Lost Continent Of The Pacific – Wishar S Cerve

A Rosicrucian view of Lemuria, including speculation on possible colonies in North America. (If you don’t know what is meant by “Rosicrucian”, look at the wikipedia page on Rosicrucianism). There are two editions of this book – one with a very plain cover from 1982, and a decidedly more modern one from 1997 (pictured). Of the two, only the older ones are what we consider to be approaching reasonable in price, the new ones are both harder to find and up to seven times the price. So, despite the cover, we’re only linking to the older edition.


561. Shaverology – Richard Toronto

A series of anecdotes about Richard Shaver and Ray Palmer by people who knew them.


562. The Lost Empire Of Atlantis: History’s Greatest Mystery Revealed – Gavin Menzies

Last on our list in this section and the book that places the greatest strain on credulity. For example, Menzies equates Atlantis with Crete/Santorini etc, but has them mining copper in North America. Amazon lists the paperback and hardcover separately, and it’s difficult to predict which will be the best quality for the price, so we’re providing links to both.

Paperback & Kindle:


See also our Hollow Earth section and several of the Childress books listed earlier in this section.

Books about Picturesque Places

Spectacular places go hand in hand with spectacular action and drama. These collections celebrate the natural (and sometimes man-man) wonder of the world in which our characters adventure. Expect additional P&H on all these books.


563. Most Beautiful Place In The World – Jay Naisei

Ten photographers. 254 pages of full-page and double-page photographs. 10.5 x 13 inches. Hardcover, 1 collectible at $9.85, 8 new from $14.39, 45 used from one cent.


564. Lonely Planet’s Beautiful World

Three hundred photographs of the world’s most captivating spectacles. 10.4 x 14 inches. 256 pages.

Hardcover; Kindle $12.49, 67 New from $20.59, 33 Used from $15.77

Paperback: 64 New from $15.75, 31 Used from 9.73


565. Landscape In Photographs – Karen Hellman and Brett Abbott

Landscapes used to be just background. As urban landscapes closed in, the natural landscape developed an appeal all of its own. This collection illustrates a range of photographic works held by the J Paul Getty Museum; it was designed to accompany an exhibition at the Getty Center in 2012. 7.2 x 8.6 inches, 112 pages, Hardcover. 22 New from $12.24, 16 Used from $8.76.


566. Discovering the Wonders of Our World: A Guide to Nature’s Scenic Marvels

There is a similar Reader’s Digest book that was the entire inspiration for this section, but there are only three quite-expensive copies of that book available. Despite an almost complete lack of information on the content, we are recommending this book on the basis of that other volume. 10.9 x 8.6 inches, no page count but it weighs 4.3 pounds so we estimate 300+ pages, Hardcover. 10 New from 2.50, 68 Used from one cent.

Additional copies available here: 9 New from $19.42, 10 used from $3.31.


567. Reader’s Digest Natural Wonders of the World

Same comments as the previous book. Nine reviews, all five stars out of five. 11.2 x 8.6 inches, weight 3.2 pounds, 463 pages, Hardcover. 2 Collectible from $12.99, 36 New from $2.10, 206 used from 1 cent. This is a bargain of almost criminal proportions.


568. Natural Wonders of the World – Robert J Moore

“Some wild places are known for their sheer physical beauty, others for their incomprehensible vastness or their vanishing ecosystems. This comprehensive portrayal of such wondrous locales … includes marvels from every continent”. 10.2 x 14 inches, 320 pages, 6.1 pounds. 4 new from $58.18, 23 used from $11.64.


569. 100 Natural Wonders of the World

“…the perfect guide to discovering and exploring some of nature’s greatest wonders”. 6 x 9 inches (trade paperback size), 112 pages. 1 collectible at $9.85, 18 New from $4.98, and 30 used from one cent.


570. 1001 Natural Wonders you must see before you die

“…some of the most beautiful sights on Earth and comes from the world’s best traveled writers, ecologists, photographers, and conservationists.” The wonders were all selected by UNESCO as World Heritage sites.

Hardcover (pictured): 6.8 x 8.2 inches, 960 pages. 38 New from $14.65 and 62 used from $4.55.

Paperback (different cover): 6.3 x 8.3 inches, 960 pages. 7 New from $41.79, 18 Used from $0.98.


571. National Geographic Guide to the World’s Supernatural Places: More Than 250 Spine-Chilling Destinations Around the Globe

We are closing out this section with a curve ball, a plot twist, because that’s very Pulp, too. In their own very atmospheric way, these images and locations are just as beautiful as any others here. “A dazzling array of haunted castles, forbidden hideaways and otherwise eerie landmarks.” 8.4 x 9.4 inches, 256 pages; 41 New at $13.94, 29 Used from $3.88.


Books about Strange Exotic, and Miscellaneous Places



572. Thrilling Places – Rob Hudson

Pulp Hero sourcebook detailing a dozen or so locations for adventures.


573. Mysterious Places: The Mediterranean – Illustrated by Robert Ingpen

The authors, Philip Wilkinson & jacqueline Dineen, don’t even rate a mention on the cover or the spine, which gives you some idea of the relative emphasis of pictures over text in this book. Large print suggests that this is intended for Primary School children, but there’s an awful lot of useful information and illustrations on everything from Tarxien in Malta to The Topkapi Palace in Istanbul – Malta, Greece, Rhodes, Lybia, and Turkey. Italy is a surprising omission. A couple of copies short of our standard.


574. The World’s Most Mysterious Castles – Lionel & Patricia Fanthorpe

An overview of castles and similar structures from all over the world (including the Alamo), organized by geographic location. There is an emphasis on reported hauntings. Reviews criticize this work on a factual level, but none of the criticism leveled detracts from the appeal as a reference for pulp adventures, where realism is always second in priority to a good story. Just don’t use it for your history thesis.


575. Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and other Inscrutable Geographies – Alastair Bonnett

Moving villages, secret cities, no man’s lands, floating islands, and more. Explores places as disorienting as Sandy Island, an island included on maps until just two years ago despite the fact that it never existed., and Sealand, an abandoned gun platform off the English coast that a British citizen claimed as his own sovereign nation, issuing passports and crowning his wife as a princess, and Baarle, a patchwork of Dutch and Flemish enclaves where walking from the grocery store’s produce section to the meat counter can involve crossing national borders, or much more. This stuff is pure pulp Gold, worth the effort of throwing back in history if necessary.


576. Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide To The World’s Hidden Wonders – Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton

“Celebrates 700 of the strangest and most curious places on earth,”. From the Glowworm caves in New Zealand to a baobab tree in South Africa that is so large it has a pub inside that holds 15 patrons. “Compelling descriptions, hundreds of photographs, surprising charts, and maps for every region of the world”. “Anyone can be a tourist. Atlas Obscura is for the Explorer.” And the perfect thing to add a touch of the strange or oddball to a visit to some remote – or nearby – part of the world.

Books about Florida’s Coral Castle



577. Coral Castle: The Mystery of Ed Leedskalnin and his American Stonehenge – Rusty McClure and Jack Heffron

The first book to take an objective, journalistic look at one of America’s most intriguing places Coral Castle, located in Homestead, Florida. Edward Leedskalnin, an eccentric Latvian immigrant, built Coral Castle in the 1920s and 30s. Working alone with primitive tools, he quarried, carved, and set in place more than 1,100 tons of coral rock, creating what is commonly known as the American Stonehenge. How he accomplished this amazing feat remains a mystery.


578. Coral Castle: Everything You Know Is Wrong – Praveen Mohan

“A standard description of Coral Castle goes like this: Coral Castle is a love monument built by an eccentric man called Edward Leedskalnin. The Castle is a giant doll house built for Ed’s sweet sixteen and his imaginary children. Ed built stone models of household objects like couches, bathtub, cooker, etc to be used by his fictional family. He also created strange meaningless carvings like the moon fountain and obelisk to impress his lost love. Experts have shown that there is nothing mysterious about the castle or how it was constructed, just one man’s persistent work. In this book, you will see that all the above statements are false.” This book swallows the “Mysterious Forces” explanation whole, and attempts to disprove the basic-engineering explanation that most people now accept. But “Basic Engineering” is no fun in a pulp context, while a mastery of “mysterious forces” can be a lot of fun. So it has been included.


579. Harmonic 695 – Bruce Cathie

Most of the book falls into the discredited-but-fun fringe-science category, but there is a great description and set of photos of the Coral Castle and its for that reason that we are recommending it. A new edition is even more widely available, listed as “The Energy Grid”



Afterword by Blair:

There’s an art form to using especially-strange places. It’s a seduction; in order to achieve credibility in the eyes of a player. Often, the easiest way to do that is to start with something that thy will recognize and accept as representing their world, and then to permit the strangeness to ‘seep in’ over time, gradually increasing in concentration until they have just about noticed it – then Wham! hit them between the eyes, full force.

I start with a hint of strangeness – a small detail in the location description that is just a little off or odd, but that has no impact on gameplay; it’s just something that gets mentioned every now and then.

Sometime after they have gotten used to this strangeness, you can up the ante, introducing another element of strangeness, this time in something to which they will pay close attention, but again, in a way that doesn’t materially affect the way the circumstances are resolved. But I will keep this hint of strangeness more conspicuous by using it an an adjective incorporated into however you identify whatever-it-is, and continue this until they do so, too.

That’s when they are ready to tolerate and even enjoy anything, from confrontation with the strange to full-on Ditko-esque Dr Strange -style cosmic weirdness.

A haunted house? Start with some spiderweb billowing as though in a breeze – even though no breeze can be felt. In stage two, the ticking of a clock is noticed to be a little strange = every now and then it misses a ‘tick’, or double-ticks to make up the lost ground. I will match the ebb-and-flow of the action to that tick; for a moment, every now and then, things will seem to stand still, only to rush through a moment later. When they are used to this rhythm – step, step, pause, double-step – they are ready for anything. Full-on poltergeist action with the doors and windows, a candle seeming to float down the hallway on its own, strange sounds abruptly issuing from the walls, a spectral apparition.

The build-up seduces them into accepting the full strangeness, when it occurs. Hint, Tease, Explore – that’s the pattern.

Many of the unexplored or poorly-known parts of the world in a pulp era simply cry out for for use in a game, but we will always start by describing the location in familiar and comfortable terms, letting them slowly get used to the strangeness of the place before placing that weirdness or exotic flavor at the fore-front in a way that cannot be ignored.

Take a little-known location – Mongolia, The Amazon, The Hollow Earth, – and give your PCs a reason to go there: a villainous plot, a mysterious artifact, a lost explorer in need of rescue. What they will find is limited only by your investigation.

When the PCs encountered a “freshwater Kraken” in the Yellow River, we started with the river unexpectedly deepening, changing color from a yellowish brown to a deep violet shade, mentioned in passing. An NPC spots movement beneath the surface for a moment, but then it is gone. And then the deck lurches suddenly to one side as three giant tentacles grasp the ship from the direction away from where the PC was looking, as another softly-glowing tentacle breaks the surface on this side of the ship, and a fifth wraps itself around a screaming NPC and lofts him fifty feet into the air. The Hint, the Tease, the full-on can’t-be-ignored in-your-face reality.

Magic, lost civilizations, or lurking Nazis can all be hidden in the undergrowth. A glimpse, then a hint, and then the presence. Or it might be any number of supernatural or weird science or occult artifacts or creatures, capable of who-knows-what.

If you can impress upon your players how ‘off the map’ they are, it only helps in selling the strangeness as what passes for reality in this place at this particular instant.

Hint, Tease, and then milk the uniqueness you find in a location for all that it’s worth; that’s the recipe for success with any of these locations. It’s a technique that has served us well, and will satisfy yours, too.

After this marathon effort, the Essential Pulp Reference Library series will be taking a brief break while I recharge my batteries. Never fear, it should be back in a week or so, but it’s time to give some other genre a little spotlight time!

Update, 21 October, 2016:

It was noticed during the week that while links would automatically be generated when viewing the post directly, WordPress did not do so when the article was viewed on the home page or other curated pages eg searches. So I have now done what I hoped to avoid and hard-coded all the links, and taken advantage of the opportunity to further tidy up some minor formatting issues. Over the course of the weekend, I intend to bring the other parts of the series up to the same standard, working backwards. Some parts may have to wait until next week, though – this is only a mid-range priority.


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I was almost finished today’s article when I clicked the wrong button and wiped out six hours worth of work.

If not for a backup, I would have lost even more. There is no chance of replacing the lost work in time to publish, and no time to write something else – not with the anticipated demands of the next part in the “Essential Library” series.

Having about half the article salvaged, it will eventually show up, but for today, there will be no article.

Sorry :(

It’s only the second or third time I’ve missed in what, eight years? I’ve been late before, but rarely missed completely. So it’s an unusual event. Life happens.

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Essential Reference Library for Pulp GMs (and others): 4th Shelf


The Fourth Shelf: The Exotic Places

Another delayed post, caused by the same expansion that caused trouble last time – and will again cause delays once more. Reluctantly, it has become necessary to revise both the breakdown and publishing schedule to insert an additional shelf. For consistency, Part Zero will be revised accordingly at the same time as this is published.

If anything, this article has been more seriously delayed than the last, for three reasons: first, it’s slightly longer; second, it contains slightly less prepared material; and third, having exhausted my physical reserves last time, it was necessary to spread this effort out more and ensure a reasonable amount of sleep each day.

I have high hopes that the next part will be closer to “on time”, also for three reasons; first, the more practice I have as the editor of the series, the faster I get at the routine tasks; second, I have been streamlining the process as I go, and will continue to do so; and third, there’s a lot more pre-done material to include in the next one. But quality has a higher priority than timeliness; like this one, it will take however long it takes.

Pulp simply wouldn’t be pulp without the occasional touch of the exotic and mysterious. But there isn’t a hard and fast dividing line between ordinary and exotic; rather, there is a gradual transition from the (relatively) ordinary to the extraordinary. This shelf deals with a number of nations and regions that occupy the more exotic end of the ordinary and the more ordinary end of the exotic.

There are a number of reasons why a location might be considered exotic. The most obvious is mystery; anywhere that wasn’t well-known and well-explored. Another reason is that they have changed substantially between the pulp era and the modern day, so much so that the way things were is at arm’s length from everyday experience and understanding. A third is strange beauty, as exemplified by the artifacts of ancient Egypt – which will have to wait until the new 5th shelf, I’m afraid. And a fourth is simply because they contain something so strange that it is noteworthy. This includes the elephants and other exotic flora and fauna of Africa (also next time) and that of Australia (this time).

Because the contents of these two shelves were conceived as a single post (until expanding scale made that impossible), the demarcation lines are a little blurred. But a broad continuity was included in the planning, so there will still be coherence of content.

Speaking of which, let’s get into what everyone has come here for…

Relevance to other genres

The stranger the location, the more readily it can be transplanted into other genres with modifications as necessary. It’s readily possible to base the tribal concept of Goblins on the tribes of the Amazon, for example. The stranger landscapes of Australia look like they came from a fantasy painting. The correspondence between New Zealand and the Lord Of The Rings has been made clear by the Film Adaptions. The horrors of Kuru can easily translate into a fantasy disease – perhaps one communicable by touch – forming an entirely different concept of Ghouls.

Similar logic applies to Science Fiction settings. How often in the original Star Trek did the Enterprise come across a primitive society based on a culture from Earth’s past? Due to the needs of production television and the newness of the entire concept, these were usually obvious and heavy-handed; but as science fiction has evolved in sophistication and audience expectations, so writers have become more adept at filing off the serial numbers and concealing their sources, permitting each new ‘creation’ to be appraised on its merits without the baggage of association.

The same technique also works with Superheroes. Exotic locales and societies always hold their own in terms of presence better when four-color characters come to visit; in more mundane and drab surroundings, the focus is more exclusively on the characters themselves, simply because they stand out so much relative to the setting. That’s why it is so essential to “gothic-up” Gotham City in order for Batman to seem to belong there, visually and stylistically.

One of the things that all games and all genres have in common is that they need somewhere for the action to take place in. Places are always relevant reference material.


boat and sunset

image credit: / ilker

Shelf Introduction

Contains 5 sections, which cover a vast range of locations. There were supposed to be 16, but the other 11 have had to be moved to the additional shelf that is being inserted to hold them. And no, it’s most unlikely that there will be a further problem in it holding them all.

The “Exotic Places” can be broadly grouped into three categories: (1) Politically and Socially stable, (2) Radically Changed, unstable, or largely unknown, and (3) the Miscellaneous and Really Strange. This shelf deals mostly with categories one and two, while the next will deal with two and three.

The standards of relevance that have been applied vary considerably between these three categories, simply because of the applicability of anything modern to the nations in the middle category.

The Rest of North America – There are three main regions in North America other than the USA: Canada, Alaska (a ringer), and Mexico. Note that the Mexico recommendations are about the nation in the 1930s, – if you want the Aztecs, look in the Lost Civilizations section, part of the “Miscellaneous and Strange” group.

Australia – Aside from its’ wildlife and natural beauty, there isn’t all that much that’s strange about Australia in the 1930s. A very young nation at the time, but still stable and very strongly an offshoot of England, but two major events – Gallipoli and the Boar War – had begun forging a national identity. Nevertheless, the cultural legacy of being a colonial subject and set of penal colonies was still a major force of the national character, now referred to as the “cultural cringe” – an unspoken belief that we were culturally inferior to England. Nevertheless, Australia deserves to be on this shelf, because of that wildlife and the even wilder American perceptions of the country. Even in the 70s, when Mike first visited the US, most people still thought kangaroos were common sights in the city streets! Certainly, the place is as unique as Northern Canada and the Yukon. It’s just not as exotic as a lot of people thought!

New Zealand – in many ways, our trans-Tasman rivals are not very different to Australia. The wildlife is less distinctive, and they have done a much better job of recognizing and integrating their native Mouri population than we have (credit where it is due). But that influence has had an impact on their national character, as has the difference between everyone being crammed onto two islands instead of vast continent. So they need their own section.

South America – in the 1930s, South America was viewed as mostly unexplored. In a pulp setting, you could find almost anything in the mountains of Peru or the rainforests of interior Brazil. Note that the Bermuda Triangle has its own section within category three.

Pacific Ocean & Surrounding Waters – This section covers a number of Pacific Islands. Many of them have had relatively stable governments, but the balance have more than made up that deficit.

Prices and Availability were correct at the time of compilation.

A Recurring Note On Images:

Wherever possible, we have provided an illustration showing the cover of the book or DVD under discussion scaled to the same vertical size (320 pixels for Recommended Books, 280 for DVDs, 250 for items in the ‘For Dummies’ Section). Where there was none available, we have used a generic icon.


The Rest Of North America

The immediate neighbors of the US are Canada and Mexico, both qualifying as exotic in their own ways. Because of the environmental similarities to Canada, we have also held Alaska back for inclusion in this section. Hawaii is dealt with elsewhere in this list, but in it’s place are some special-focus entries for the Yukon and the Matanuska Colony.

Books about Canada



199. Regional Geography of the United States and Canada (4th edition) – Tom L McKnight

A best-selling book on the subject, focusing on the description and interpretations of North American landscapes including ecosystems, urban changes, agriculture, and inland waterways. Up-to-date (at the time of publication) maps are also a feature. New copies of this book cost almost $100, but the used ones are within our acceptable price bracket at $14.


200. Canada – Shelagh Rogers with photographs by Mike Grandmaison

One of the characteristic traits that identify Canada around the world is the stunning natural beauty. This 240-page volume explores that beauty and its diversity, with special attention to the untouched wilderness, unchanged for hundreds if not thousands of years, never mind since the Pulp era. New copies range from $1 to $18 and there are ample used copies starting at just one cent.


201. Canada – Daryl Benson

A book in the same vein as its namesake, above, but this contains only 144 color and black and white images spread over 168 pages. New copies cost around the $50 mark, usually a good indication of a quality product, but used copies are affordable starting at $1.50 and in just enough supply to meet our normal standards.

The question could be asked, is this book really needed if you have already decided to buy Rogers/Grandmaison work? Speaking from experience, Blair and Mike think you do. As part of the Yukon adventure they ran, they needed more than 100 images of northern terrain which they then shaped into a matching narrative, factoring in the evident time of day (dawn/day/sunset/night).

The hard part was that these all had to be distinctive, and that meant culling from almost 10,000 possible images (you can view the full list as part of A folder for every file: My Document Organization for RPGs, where it was used as an example). Even then, Mike had to perform some photoshop wizardry, being unable to find all the required images; he shared some of the results of this effort as an illustrating accompaniment to Stormy Weather – making unpleasant conditions player-palatable.

Justification eventually comes down to travel time, which is slow in this environment during the pulp era; either you hand-wave most of it, or you really make the players feel the environment – so long as you can keep it interesting. And that’s where having a variety of images to choose from works for you.



202. Darwin Wiggett Photographs Canada – Darwin Wiggett

Having justified one addition book of photographs of Canada, why not a second? This book won multiple awards in 1998. What made this book stand out was the description that the photographs offer ‘a unique combination of color, light and meaning’ – i.e. that they are distinctive. Therefore, this is a justifiable conclusion using the same logic applied in the sidebar above. A secondary consideration was that there were only just enough low-priced copies of the Benson book, so having an alternative on offer seemed a prudent move. New copies of this book are in short supply and cost more than $50, but there are used copies for only $2.38 – again, just enough of them to meet our standards.

With the justification offered, however, we then need to justify this book not being higher up on the list, i.e. before one or both of the other two. The answer lies in the length, which is only 128 pages. While a higher percentage of the images might be useful, we haven’t read this book – so we have erred on the side of caution. Distinctiveness can either help or hinder, after all.


203. The Rough Guide To Canada

And so, to textual information that can supplement those images. As a general rule, the Rough Guides have a reputation for useful content that the others lack, and a greater degree of comprehensiveness, so those tend to be our first choices unless there are plausible complaints of errors. That exception doesn’t apply in this case. Available in both Kindle and Paperback formats, this 912-page book should satisfy most needs.


204. National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of Canada

A possible exception to that ‘most needs’ statement is satisfied by this book. National Geographic usually set a high standard for both visual and text content, and this book appears to be no exception. Amazon have no copies left, but must be anticipating more because they are still charging for it. However there are still copies available from third-party vendors through Amazon.


205. Canada Culture Smart: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture – Diane Lemieux

There are two main series on cultures that emerged from our European research, but only one of them came up when we looked for a suitable Canadian reference, so that’s de-facto our choice. However, we were concerned by the allegations of factual errors, even though those allegations were themselves somewhat confused. Most readers felt this to be a reasonable foundation, and that’s all a good GM needs.

Books about Quebec



206. Lonely Planet Montreal & Quebec City Travel Guide – Regis St Louis & Gregor Clark

The Lonely Planet guides are first and foremost for tourists, with lots of information about attractions and accommodation that is usually too modern to be especially relevant to the Pulp GM. But this one caught our eye. Cultural insights and 28 color neighborhood maps made this seem especially relevant when looking at an area that is the most distinctive in Canada – sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad, and sometimes just because they are different. Available in Kindle and Paperback editions.

Books about Alaska



207. Alaska: A visual tour of America’s Great Land – Bob Devine

A ‘tour’ through the history, culture, and landscape of Alaska. National Geographic explores the seven distinct geographic regions of Alaska, discussing the images, history, and art of each, with maps. Our second choice for photographic reference (our first had to be relegated to the honorable mentions for both price and availability), we view everything else as a bonus.


208. Alaska For Dummies (5th edition) – Charles P Wohlforth

Alaska has 100,000 glaciers and 10 million lakes, according to this book’s blurb. The author has been a native of Alaska his whole life, is noted for his environmental studies within the state, and has been writing about Alaska as a journalist and author for more than twenty years; if anyone’s qualified to introduce it to the general public, he is. This is a travel guide, so expect some of the content to be irrelevant to a Pulp setting.


209. Alaska Then and Now: Anchorage, Fairbanks, & Juneau – Sonta Senkowsky and Amanda Coyne

The history of Alaska told by matching historic images with modern views of the same location that display the before and after of each stage of the state’s evolution, then explains the transition from one to the other.


210. Fairbanks: A Gold Rush Town that Beat The Odds – Dermot Cole

This history of Fairbanks is notable for having the biggest pricing discrepancy between hardcover and paperback that we’ve ever seen. New copies of the former cost $180 or more, used ones are priced at $390. New copies of the paperback start at $10 or a little less, used copies are just $1.78. Which prompts the question, who’s kidding whom? Normally, given the inclusion of “Alaska Then and Now”, we would have given this book a miss as being redundant; what persuaded us otherwise was the first line of Amazon’s description: “Fairbanks has plenty of interesting characters in its past.”


211. A Knucklehead in 1920s Alaska – Norma Collins Huss and William A Collins

And, speaking of colorful characters from Alaska’s past, this book presents Bill Collins, who told his stories to Huss. As a 19-year-old, Collins traveled to Alaska to work and save for College, finding adventure, misadventure, and not much money. “He faces hardships, finds friends” … “who will do anything for him and enemies eager to knife him or smash him with a twenty-pound sledge,” “survives hunger, an earthquake, stomping caribou, and icicle frost”. “He has one lucky day and more than a few really bad days”. The description of Bill as a knucklehead is his own; he comes across as a real-life Pulp Adventurer. Of course, it’s also possible that he’s exaggerated just a wee bit!


212. Alaska’s Bush Pilots (Images of Aviation) – Roy Stapleton and the Alaska Aviation Museum

The rough and ready pioneer aviators of Alaska, from 1913 onward, and their aircraft. It’s entirely possible that there are still parts of Alaska that have never been seen other than from above, either from the air or by satellite. For some reason, new copies of this book are currently cheaper than used, so choose carefully; things are unlikely to stay that way for long.

Books about The Klondike / The Yukon



213. The Klondike Fever: The Life and Death of the Last Great Gold Rush – Pierre Berton

Two of our three selections regarding the Klondike Gold Rush are by the same author. Aside from looking like the two best books on the subject, this will hopefully minimize overlap, resulting in a more comprehensive totality. Alaska would still be full of people who survived the Klondike but were left with no means to try their luck elsewhere, or who came for the gold but stayed for the location. This book is a general history of the Gold Strike, focusing on those who succeeded.


214. Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush 1896-1899 – Pierre Berton

This book looks at the impact of he Klondike on Canada, contrasting the differences in handling of the situation by the Canadians and Americans, and bringing us the stories of some of the colorful characters drawn to the prospect of Gold or changed radically by it, such as “Soapy Smith, dictator of Skagway; Swiftwater Bill Gates, who bathed in champagne; Silent Sam Bonnifield, who lost and won back a hotel in a poker game; and Roddy Connors, who danced away a fortune at a dollar a dance.” Plus the legendary Mounties of the era, like Sam Steele, “the Lion of the Yukon.” It was those stories and characters that initially caught our eye; the socio-political aspect went almost unnoticed. In the final analysis, however, it was decided that the characters were more of a bonus to the true value of the book for a Pulp GM. But what a bonus :)


215. The Klondike Gold Rush: Photographs from 1896-1899 (100th Anniversary edition) – Graham B. Wilson

This book contains 125 photographs of “the last great gold rush” accompanied by anecdotes and personal accounts, and it’s the latter that is the real treasure for the Pulp GM; the images are a bonus. A pretty good one, though. Availability of this book is plentiful and cheap at the moment.

Books about The Matanuska Colony



216. The 1935 Matanuska Colony Project: The Remarkable History of a New Deal Experiment in Alaska – Helen Hegener

In 1935 the US Federal Government resettled 200 families from the Depression-stricken Midwest to the Matanuska Valley, offering them a new start with government backing and support. This was one of a multitude of projects under the New Deal, and arguably the most successful; overcoming the inevitable bureaucratic entanglements, the Matanuska Colony thrived, by 1948 producing more than half of the agricultural products for the entire state. Not only is the Colony’s founding a part of the Pulp Era, as are the others of its type, but the presence of new inhabitants provides plot opportunities to the pulp GM – what hidden and unsuspected secret might they uncover? Or did the government have some inkling of what might happen? Two very different paths for the GM to walk down – and, if he plays his cards right, he might even be able to walk down both.

And then there are all those less-successful colonies; while the information within this book is limited on the subject, there’s nothing to prevent the GM from inventing some other reason for one or more of the failures. You could build an entire campaign with this federal program as the hub! – though that might be a little confining and repetitive if this is the only source of adventures. With all that on offer, this book was impossible to refuse, even though the price is a little outside what we would normally accept, and availability is right on the cusp, despite the provision of a Kindle edition.


217. The Matanuska Colony Album: Photographs of the 1935 Matanuska Colony Project – Helen Hegener

The potential implicit in the Matanuska Colony is only increased by this book by the same author, based on the chronicle of the official photographer attached to the Project, Willis T. Geisman. This book also falls just outside the scope of our normal price limits, and fails to achieve our normal availability requirements in numbers as well, but adds so much to the previous book as a combination that it had to be included. Prices of the two are comparable at around the $20-25 mark.

Books about Mexico



218. The Rough Guide To Mexico

Our usual go-to tourist guide to the things to see and do in a country, broken down by geographic region.


219. The People’s Guide to Mexico (14th edition) – Carl Franz and Lorena Havens

Considered the definitive guide to “living, traveling, and taking things as they come” in Mexico by many. We especially like the inclusion of internet links to resources on Mexico, and encouragement to explore beyond the tourist traps – and the best of what to look for when you do. “This is not a guide book that will tell you which hotel to stay in, but instead will tell you how to improvise a lock for a lockless door. It will not tell you which restaurant to eat at, but will tell an anecdote about ordering one dish and getting another that will help you roll with it when it happens to you.” In other words, it’s packed with information that will be useful to a GM and leaves out a lot of stuff that would be irrelevant to the Pulp world. Available in Kindle and Paperback.


220. Mexico’s Once and Future Revolution: Social Upheaval and the Challenge of Rule since the Late Nineteenth Century – Gilbert M Joseph & Jordan Buchenau

A concise historical analysis of the Mexican Revolution, its causes, consequences, and legacies, explored from various social perspectives – workers, politicians, artists, the wealthy and the poor, etc. Sometimes, an “outsider’s perspective” is merely a vehicle for injecting some social or political polemic of the author; at other times, it can permit the forest to be seen as well as the trees, yielding insights that would be all-but-impossible from the inside. This appears to be one of the latter cases, viewing the revolution not as a climactic event but as the start of a process by which government and citizenry modified and influenced each other, evolving toward the modern, stable, neo-Liberalism – that survives by knowing its limits and when to look the other way. Kindle and Paperback.


221. The Impossible Triangle: Mexico, Soviet Russia and the United States in the 1920s – Daniela Spenser

Another side of Mexico in the 1920s is revealed by the story of the tangled relationship between Russia and Mexico in the decade that followed their respective revolutions. This book examines not only that, but the involvement – some would say entanglement – at various points by the United States. “Based on documents from the archives of several nations—including reports by former Mexican diplomats in Moscow that have never before been studied.” Hardcover copies are way too expensive for our list, and there aren’t enough of them anyway, but paperback prices are good to tolerable. Technically, there aren’t enough of them, but this reeks of so much potential value to the Pulp GM that we’ll let that slide.


222. Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s – Francisco E. Balderrama and Raymond Rodriguez

And, speaking of American involvement with affairs south of the Rio Grande, during the Depression, the Mexican-borne residents were an easy scapegoat for those looking for someone to blame. A wave of resentment led first to laws forbidding the the employment of Mexicans (as though Prohibition had taught them nothing) and then to hysteria-driven pandemic repatriation drives in which one million Mexicans and their children were illegally rounded up and forcibly repatriated to Mexico. When the panic ended, many of the surviving children returned to America and worked to get their lives back in order, and never told their own children of the episode out of shame. The events were quietly swept under the carpet for decades. The potential for Pulp plots should be clear – acts of villainy often breed resentment and create new Villains, and acts of villainy were plentiful throughout this shameful episode.

It also has relevance to the modern day, offering new perspectives on the Syrian refugee crisis (and responses to it) and the current issues of illegal immigration.

This book only just sneaks under our price and availability limits, but as a subject it is too significant to leave out of our reference library.


223. Mexico: The Essentials (1st Edition) William H Beezley and Colin M MacLachlan

A broad introduction to Mexican history and culture built around ten fundamental aspects of Mexican life.


224. The Mexican Mind!: Understanding & Appreciating Mexican Culture! – Boye Lafayette De Mente

A deeper and perhaps more insightful work, “De Mente uses key words in the Mexican language to identify and explain the contradictions and paradoxes of Mexico — the omnipresent trappings of Catholicism, the macho-cult of Mexican males, the conflicting treatment of females, the savage brutality of the criminal and the rogue cop, the gentle humility of the poor farmer, the warmth, kindness and compassion of the average city dweller, and the extreme sensuality of the Mexican mindset.” If he isn’t making mountains out of molehills, or confusing cause and effect, this book offers the key to understanding the Mexican character – and, even if he is, the phenomena he attempts to explain provide a useful cultural checklist for the Pulp GM. Ignore the one-star customer review, who didn’t want a book written in English, and contrast the gushing 4- and 5-star reviews with the 2-star criticisms: stereotyping, overgeneralizing, and with questionable factual foundations. So some of the specifics are in question, but as a foundation and a starting point, it still sounds worthwhile. Kindle and Paperback.


225. Culture Shock: Mexico – Mark Cramer

Canned series description, so we turned to the customer reviews for insight: “This book is very useful … it gives a quick down and dirty synopsis of Mexican history. … It then moves onto the author’s own experiences navigating the culture, with excellent tips [on how to] ‘blend in” and understand what is going on around you. The details the author provides, such as going up to a stranger’s house in the country, and asking “do you have any extra food today?” were true 20 years ago and are still true today” (And presumably would be just as valid in the Pulp era). “It is not a guidebook. It is a hybrid…and very useful for those travelers who blaze their own paths, not the usual tourist tracks of Mexico” – which would include PCs on an adventure, not a holiday. “Tips on how to recognize a good Mexican restaurant, how to address people in social situations, and other Mexicanisms such as various commonly used slang. The author also describes regional differences and urban/rural differences you may come across.”

All of which sounds great – but: “…provides a wealth of information about Mexico, but the author’s presentation is rambling and disorganized. Of course, one could take this as a metaphor for Mexico: things appear to be chaotic, but generally they can be made to work,” and, “…full [of] historic data, that unless you are interested in Mexican history, would not [be] useful. Only Pages 101 to 110 have some information relevant to a culture shock book. The rest of the book is rather boring and with a lot of useless accounts and anecdotes.” Well, for our purposes, those accounts and anecdotes might well be useful. Finally, “The biggest shock was the author’s pedantry. The first third of the book is an obscure treatment of history which assumes too much knowledge on the part of the reader. The book needs a glossary with the pronunciation of unusual Spanish words, names, and places. I found myself constantly stumbling over them.

For every one of those criticisms there is another review that lauds the books and its content in a most fulsome manner – occasionally confirming that the book is not well-organized. While we usually prefer the Culture Shock series over others, these raised enough concerns about this particular book that we hesitated to include it, and decided only to do so with a substantial discussion of the potential drawbacks.


226. Culture Smart Mexico – Guy Mavor

Also described only by a canned description of the series, and with only three brief customer reviews, there isn’t a lot to go on – otherwise we would have elevated this over the preceding recommendation. In fact, our only takeaway from those reviews is that this is strong in the areas in which the Culture Shock book is weak, but achieves this by being sparse in content. So the positive reviews of the preceding volume give it primacy over this as a resource, despite the criticisms.



With all three of the authors of this series being Australian, we were especially ruthless in pruning this section – or we would have ended up with three times as many books. As things stand, we know this to be an incomplete selection. To explain why, and help place anything you read from the selections included into context, we need to waffle on a bit.


Australia is BIG. The size of the US, close enough – if we conveniently ignore Alaska. When you total it up, the US comes out about 5.22% bigger.

Comparisons with Europe – all of it, but Russia – paint an even starker comparison. Numbers are harder to come by but you can see the comparison for yourself below.

Mike comes from central New South Wales (as he detailed in this article about his home town), very close to the middle of it in fact. This is one of the eastern states, only the fourth largest of the six – behind Western Australia, Queensland, and South Australia. Should the Northern Territory ever become North Australia, it will push New South Wales further down the list – fifth largest of seven.

When he used to travel to the State Capital, Sydney – a distance about the same as New York to Oakville, Ontario; not quite as far as New York to Lynchburg, Virginia, and just a tad more than New York to Erie, Pennsylvania, and considerably farther than the distance to Pittsburgh. (For any Europeans reading this, roughly the distance between Paris and Bavaria or Lichtenstein). Foreigners perpetually underestimate the scale of the place.


Australia’s population is roughly that of New York City.

Can a citizen of New York tell the difference between himself and someone from Virginia? How about someone from Ontario? Is there a difference between a Parisian and a German?

Australians are great travelers – we have to be, just to get anywhere. And that helps keep the country more or less homogenized, at least at a state level. Now think about the diversity of ecosystems within the entire continental US and throw in millions of years of isolation – how much more complex and varied will those of Australia be?

Also helping to keep the culture reasonably consistent is the fact that much of the inland ranges from sparsely inhabited to barely habitable or worse. The population is clumped into 3 major cities, all located along the coast, plus a handful of smaller cities, a few dozen (at best) tiny cities, a vast number of small-to-tiny towns, and a small agrarian population.

There is a cattle ranch in central Australia that is roughly the size of Vermont. 24,000 square kilometers. 5.9 million acres. The five largest such ranches (called stations in Australia), when combined, are almost as large as all of Indiana. (Again, for Europeans: Combining the top six gives the same area as all of Denmark plus all of Belgium plus all of Turkey!)

Now that you have some appreciation of the size, contemplate the difficulty in trying to sum all that up in any single guidebook – or any single anything, for that matter. Imagine the difficulty of simply exploring all of that. It’s a situation ripe for misinformation and misjudgments and overgeneralizing. The best way to avoid that is to be extremely choosy about the books that we list. The slightest hint of inaccuracy, and we turned to an alternative – unless they were even less reliable.

Books about Australia in general



227. Australia: Land Beyond Time – Reg Morrison

Unique wildlife, ancient trees, and spectacular landscapes – Australia is full of surprises and great images. This book captures more than 300 of them in color, then draws on earth scientists and biologists to make sense of it all. Seventeen chapters accompanied by timelines and maps, lead the reader through the 4 Billion Years of Australia’s natural history. This was a New York Times bestseller for a reason; and new copies currently sell – in very limited remaining numbers – for more than US$40. Which makes it all the remarkable that there are at least some used copies for just $0.32. Get them quick, they won’t last.


228. Australia: Images of a Timeless Land – Peter Lik

This book contains only 192 pages but the photography is arguably even better than in the first. It lacks the comprehensive nature of the first (which still doesn’t show all their is to see) and doesn’t have the supporting text. New copies of the Hardcover are listed as costing $42 or so – but, Amazingly, there are a number of used copies starting at just $0.77.


229. National Geographic Traveler: Australia (5th Edition) – Roff Martin Smith

Amazon has copies of this 399-page book, which bridges the gap between travel guide and photographic study, for $20.62 new, but at least some third-party vendors are undercutting that price a little. There are also a reasonable number of second-hand copies starting at just $6. Starting with a detailed introduction to Australia’s history, food, land, and culture, Roff uses 175 photographs and 30 maps to illustrate seven trips through Australia, so it is less comprehensive again than either of the previous two books. But this is a travel guide, and makes up for that with sidebars on various topics and activities and insider tips on little-known sites and experiences. There are four serious omissions, as one reviewer makes clear – (1) The Pinnacles in Nambung National Park; (2) Stromatolites at Hamelin Pool in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area; (3) Wave Rock near Hyden in Western Australia, a few hours drive east from Perth; and (4) Beehive dome formations at Bungle Bungle National Park. (We’ve included the list so that you can search for them yourselves, at least partially correcting this deficiency).


230. The Rough Guide To Australia

This book weighs in at a hefty 1032 pages, more than 3 1/2 time the length of the National Geographic offering, and also reportedly has very tiny print. You would expect that to provide room a lot more content. Most customers give it big ticks relative to the competition, such as Lonely Planet (which used to be the benchmark), but one lone voice complains of disorganization and – essentially – of being unable to see the forest (i.e. what’s major) for the trees (what’s not). Of course the whole idea is for the reader to read the entries and decide for themselves what appeals. The lack of organizational coherence is a bigger issue, and is the major reason for listing the National Geographic Guidebook ahead of this one. If you can take the time to prize the meat out and do your own notations and cross-connections, this is probably the better resource; if not, stick with the NatGeo.


231. How Australia Compares – Rodney Tiffen and Ross Gittins

This book is published by Cambridge University Press, which should right away warn of two things: British Spelling, and a serious book. This 294 pages of analysis that compares Australia with 17 other developed nations “across a wide range of social, economic, and political dimensions,” charting trends over decades or more whenever they have the data to support such an analysis. Each topic is dealt with using a double-page spread with tables and charts on one side and commentary/analysis on the facing page. The goal is to put the Australian experience into international perspective. Hardcovers start at $8.75 and range up to $110, paperbacks are from $17.94 to $73. Make sure to get the much-improved second edition if you don’t buy through Amazon – there have been indications in the past the the “other vendors” conflates all available editions, as was noted in the previous part of this series. The vendor should be able to tell by looking at the cover, as you can see from the accompanying image. Note that the hardcover image lacks this telltale and explains why some of the prices are so cheap. Hence, to play it safe, we’re linking to the paperback edition.


232. Australian History for Dummies – Alex McDermott

Australia has a very colorful past. It says something that one of our national heroes is a glorified highwayman wearing a pot on his head – all right, that description is just slightly understated; Ned Kelly is so famous he has even appeared on an Irish Stamp. There is certainly a social cache to having an ancestor who was transported, i.e. a convict. Like the settlers in the American Wild West, the settlers here took on the harshest possible conditions and learned to stare them in the eye before beating them into submission, producing a strong, almost willful, independence and can-do attitude. Aussies, therefore, make great Pulp Characters, both heroes and villains. (Hmm, we haven’t used one as a villain yet in the Adventurer’s Club campaign… mental note made). Anyway, if you want to be able to play an Aussie to the hilt, you’ll need to know about them – and this book makes a great start.


233. The Explorers: Stories of Discovery and Adventure from the Australian Frontier – Tim Flannery (editor)

A collection of 67 true stories of the exploration of Australia, starting in Dutch captain Willem Jenz’s 1606 Expedition at the northernmost point of Australia, Cape York, and ending with Robyn Davidson’s 1977 camel-back ride through the outback deserts. Available in Kindle and Paperback.


234. Culture and Customs of Australia – Laurie Clancy

We looked at a great number of Culture guides to the Australian population, and this seemed by far to be the best of them. Topics include the Australian concept of Mateship and the Bush, the off-again-on-again Australian love affair with Multiculturalism, the suburban dream, the importance of Sports, the evolving cuisine (which will certainly have moved on since this book was written – Scandinavian is ‘in’ right now), and the beach culture. Very much about the Australia of today, however, which was very different from that of the Pulp Era. Nevertheless, this presents a picture of ‘now’ that serves as a necessary foundation and contrast to ‘then’. New copies of this book can be quite expensive, as is the Kindle edition ($50+). Used is definitely the way to go – while copies last.


235. Australian Language & Culture – Lonely Planet

One of the fastest ways to represent a character’s nationality is through the language that they use. Not the accent – though that can be useful, too, if you are any good at them – but the actual words, the slang, the lingo.

Australia has changed markedly in this respect over the years; most of the slang in use when we were children is now decades out of date. The slang that our parents and younger grandparents still appears from time to time as a caricature, for example through the internationally-recognized character of Dame Edna Everage; but for every Aussie who laughs (maybe for every couple), there will be one who cringes, It’s also noteworthy that different social classes employ different slang. There is also some regional slang that may eventually turn into a different accent, but which hasn’t done so, as yet.

And, of course, formal language is different again; throughout the pulp period it was the mark of education and intellect to speak with a formal British accent, something that persisted into the 1950s and was still present in diluted form for two or three decades longer. Until the end of Gough Whitlam‘s time in government (977), let us say. His successors, on both sides of politics, all had Australian accents of varying intensity.

Most guides such as this make the mistake of conflating it all into one “dialect” regardless of time period or socio-economic background of speaker. “Not Happy, Jan,” as the most recently-depreciated piece of such slang would have said. It’s our hope that Lonely Planet have avoided falling into this trap in the same way that many of the “also bought” items offered by Amazon have done. If not, well, an Aussie will ‘set you right’ promptly, but most others won’t know the difference, so ‘she’ll be right, mate’.


236. Australia Culture Smart – Barry Penney and Gina Teague

This is the only book on Australian Culture whose description even hints at the Cultural Cringe. Experts disagree on when we started to lose that handicap; some point to the success of The Seekers, others to Don Bradman, and still others to World War One and the Gallipoli landings. We think they are all partially right, that the change was a progressive evolution, each step forward being made possible by the preceding one. Certainly by the 1980s, it existed only in vestigial form; and the success of the Sydney Olympics put the final nail in the coffin except in a few backwoods types who never quite made the transition to modernity.

It’s easy to see, then, why it would be possible for an only somewhat-shallow entry into the topic could ignore the subject completely as no longer being of relevance, or even fail to become aware of it, and why even hinting at it is an indicator of having done your homework.

This is an important consideration, because the cultural cringe was in full force, or close to it, throughout the Pulp Period. Any book that deals with this transition in cultural identity is one that is therefore more useful as a reference to the Pulp GM.

Books about Sydney



237. Sydney Then And Now – Caroline Mackanass and Caroline Butler-Bowden

Sydney is a lot like Boston, in that the city’s history nestles here and there between more modern structures.

This 144-page book features side-by-side photographs that document the transitions undergone by the City as they were and are. It notably includes some Sydney icons that often don’t get a mention in the travel guides.

Used copies of the paperback cost a ridiculous $185+, new (both paperback and hardcover) are about $40, but it’s used copies of the hardcover are the bargains for as little as $2.

It should come as no surprise that this is the format we have linked to.


238. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Sydney

We commented earlier that as Australians, we naturally were extremely judgmental in choosing the best books to represent the country. As residents of Sydney, that goes double. Of the travel guides selected for inclusion, this is by far the most comprehensive and useful.It details locations that are iconic to the residents but don’t even get mentioned in the other two. There are a few things we would have liked to have added to the odd description or sidebar here and there in this 264 page publication, but everything actually said is completely accurate so far as we could judge. The extras, like floor plans for the major museums, elevate it even further above It even includes a couple of pages specifically on what we have been referring to as the Pulp Era, the period between the two World Wars.


239. National Geographic Traveler: Sydney (2nd edition)

Second-best, and also covering sites that the other does not, is this tour guide from National Geographic. Again, everything we read in the preview was completely accurate. The focus is a little more “touristy” in orientation. The information most likely to date – bus routes, hotels, restaurants, and prices – are the least useful content from the perspective of a pulp GM, so buy from the used list with confidence – but new copies are also eminently affordable from 3rd parties for a quarter of Amazon’s price.


240. The Bridge: The epic story of an Australian Icon – the Sydney Harbour Bridge – Peter Lalor

Construction began on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in mid-1923 and ended in 1932 – both events securely within the Pulp Era. This book was published as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations, and deals with the machinations involved in that construction process. Nicknamed “The Iron Lung” by locals because the construction provided jobs for many who would otherwise have been unemployed during the Great Depression. From day one, the bridge was mired in controversy; there is no clear certainty who designed it, the design itself was initially disliked in some quarters, there were contentious battles over the impact on residents and businesses at both ends, and the thunder of the non-royal state Premier was stolen by a member of the Fascist New Guard, slashing at the ribbon with his saber. (Of course, this project would be followed by another that was, in it’s own way, even more controversial, the now-iconic Sydney Opera House, but that’s outside the scope of this series).

To be honest, this book should not be in this section at all. It costs too much at $30-40, and there aren’t enough copies available. But the story of the bridge and its construction is so Pulp in character that we couldn’t refuse – and we could refuse to list an inferior resource (not that there were many choices). Available in Kindle and Paperback.

Books about Melbourne

Sydney and Melbourne have had a rivalry going since forever – well, since European Colonization, anyway. The National Capital is in a city build specifically for the purpose midway between the two cities simply because neither would accept the other in the role. Having just declared ourselves Sydneysiders, it is incumbent to scuttle immediately any suspicions that we may have deliberately made poor choices of books to represent our southern rivals.


241. Melbourne – Sophie Cunningham

This book contains a year of the Author’s Diary starting with an Australian heat wave (no-one does heat waves like Australia!) which culminated in over 400 bushfires (wildfires to those in America). In the course of exploring the city, Sophie shares her recollections of growing up there and tells stories from its history, which will include some from the pulp era. Beyond the specifics, we would also expect the Australian character to emerge from her experiences – because there are just as many similarities between Australians as there are differences.


242. Lonely Planet Melbourne & Victoria

A more conventional travel guide. covering not only the city but also the surrounding state (which is roughly the size of Romania, or Minnesota). Covers history, art, literature, cinema, television, music, theater, dance, architecture, sport, fashion, cuisine, coffee culture, wine, politics, landscapes, wildlife, Melbourne City, the Grampians, Spa Country, The Great Ocean Road, Bellarine Peninsula, Phillip Island, The Mornington Peninsula, Wilsons Promontory, Gippsland, the High Country, the Murray River, and more.


243. The Melbourne Tram Book – Randall Wilson and Dale Budd

Melbourne’s Trams are iconic. Sydney got rid of its’ trams as inefficient many years ago, permitting Melbourne to capitalize on the imagery in much the same way that San Francisco does, and was happy that way for a long time – then began to regret the move. There are several editions of this book available, but this is the newest – and the cheapest. While the images all feature the trams that are the subjects of the book, the period surroundings are half the value to a pulp GM.

Books about The Australian Outback



244. Indigenous Australia For Dummies – Larissa Behrendt

In the discussion on Native Americans For Dummies, We suggested that most Australians don’t know enough about Indigenous Australia – never mind what the rest of the world’s population doesn’t know. If Australian History For Dummies is essential, so is this book. The only problem is the price – unlike most of the For Dummies books, this is quite expensive and in short supply. Kindle $16.83, New (11 copies) $23.13 or more, Used (5 copies) from $22.11. We’re bending the rules to include it.


245. Travels In Outback Australia – Andrew Stevenson

Travel writer Stevenson dives headlong into the path less traveled that leads to the heart of the continent and back out again, encountering characters, wild men, Indigenous Australians, and adventure. The people he meets will be the citizens most unchanged since the pulp era. This book was originally published in Australia as “Out Back”. The most notable things left out (aside from many tourist traps) are the major cities – Sydney and Melbourne. In other words, this book tells “the rest of the story”.


246. Dreamkeepers: A Spirit-Journey into Aboriginal Australia

The Dreamtime is fundamental to the cultural beliefs of Indigenous Australians. It can be described very simply, and yet be complex enough to consume lifetimes of research. A spirit realm in which time does not pass and the spirits of the dead watch over the living and the young wait to be born, infinitely distant and yet as close as your shoulder – or so we understand it, having only a mis-educated white perspective on such matters, having half-understood half-heard stories and explanations from other people who didn’t know the answers any more than we did. In other words, that’s probably an exact description of everything that it’s not!

We aren’t completely ignorant; we know that there is not one Australian Aboriginal culture, there are hundreds, and all with their own stories of what was and how what is came to be, their own cultures. We are, in fact, educated enough to recognize how much we don’t know, and how much their is to know – lest our half-baked half-understood understandings lend insult, if nothing else.

For the pulp GM, these issues assume a new relevance. What if the Dreamtime were out there now, today? Creatures and spirits both good and wise and hostile came from the Dreamtime…

Gaining a clearer understanding of The Dreamtime won’t reverse all the cultural damage that has been inflicted by western society, but the world is what it is; it would certainly be a start, moving forward. This book is all about the spirit-journey of the Australian Aboriginals and their metaphysical concept, The Dreamtime. Available in Kindle and Hardcover.


247. Australia’s Dangerous Creatures For Dummies – Graeme Lofts and Peg Gill

The modern myth is that Australia has the deadliest of everything, and it’s something that Aussies take great delight in playing up out of a larrikin sense of humor. The reality is that there are arguably deadlier versions of most things in other places – but Australia’s native fauna comes close, and is often more aggressive, downright hostile, and outright intimidating, than anywhere else – especially when you put the whole role-call together.

Heck, we even have non-deadly spiders whose bite is believed to cause limb necrosis that can easily kill if medical attention is not prompt and precise – and even then can be touch-and-go! And a Great Red Kangaroo in full locomotion in pursuit of a wild boar has to be seen to be believed – some of them can grow to be 8′ tall, and bound along up to 6′ off the ground. Don’t believe us? Check out this book and decide for yourself – because even if we are exaggerating, the native wildlife of the Island Continent is both unique and a great challenge for Pulp Characters.


New Zealand

The Lord of the Rings trilogy told the world what some knew already: New Zealand is replete with utterly gorgeous landscapes and vistas. So much has this changed the perception of the nation that the cities of Auckland and Christchurch are often an almost-forgotten afterthought, or viewed as a the rest of the country.

We’ve talked about New Zealand a bit already, so let’s dive straight into the recommendations, shall we?

Books about New Zealand



248. New Zealand: Eye On The Landscape – Craig Potton and Robbie Burton

As befits such a visually-striking country, we have four photographic collections to offer, of which this is the first. 191 Pages, pages are 5.7×7.4 inches – postcard size. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing – it increases the portability of the book, but it means that the images are small. Hence the extremely affordable price. The pictures themselves are every bit as good as you would hope, but the size can be a problem, and the customer comments and ratings reflect both of these factors. New copies sell for $17 or so, used copies for just 1 cent.


249. New Zealand Horizons Panoramic Photography – Andris Apse

At 80 pages, this book is even smaller than the preceding one in one important dimension, but the images are larger – 10.7 x 7 images, the size of most softcover game supplements. Copies are appropriately higher-priced as well, at $22 new and $0.23 used. Unlike the previous book, which was a ‘best of’ compilation from the Photographic Society of New Zealand, this is the work of a single high-profile nature photographer native to the country.


250. New Zealand Landscapes – Andris Apse

Another book from the same photographer, this time at a more robust 116 pages, each slightly larger than the postcard size of the first book – by about the right amount for the images to have a border. The full-sized version of this book also had the same title. Again, portability has been increased at the expense of picture quality, unfortunately coffee-table books with big photographs tend to be expensive.


251. Portrait Of New Zealand (2nd edition) – Warren Jacobs

But sometimes there are bargains to be had. At 192 pages, this has the highest page count of all four image collections, and at 11.4 x 8.7 inches, slightly larger pages as well. Originally published in 2 volumes in 1982 and the combined volume in 1988 and reprinted every year since.

Until this second edition, some of the photographs had been printed in black and white even though they had been taken with color film, something that greatly puzzled Mike, who is the closest thing to an expert on photography among the three of us. He always thought that “the point of modern black and white photography is first, the Noir stylistic influence, using lighting and shadow to add symbolism and meaning to an image, and second, to permit higher-grain film stock for higher-resolution images that capture more of the textural element of the subjects – and neither of those objectives are served by turning color into black and white.” We’ll take your word for it, Mike, and just move on.

In any event, this volume is in full color, and new copies start at the budget-busting price of around $35, but there are used copies starting at about $1. As we said, bargain! Or is it? Given our concerns about the conflating of editions, maybe there’s a reason for that discounting – and that is why this book hasn’t been given pride of place within the sub-list of New Zealand photographic books. Caveat Emptor.


252. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide (Revised Edition): New Zealand

The first of three-and-a-half tourist guides we are listing, this has more customer reviews and a higher average rating than any other New Zealand travel guide we saw with a similar review population. Available in both paperback and flexibound editions, and affordable in both new and used conditions for similar prices – $10 to $17. As in other localities, its the extras that elevate this beyond most in terms of value to the Pulp GM – museum floor-plans in particular. The product description also boasts of having ‘the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide’. 384 pages. We aren’t especially edition-conscious on this recommendation.


253. Insight Guides: New Zealand (Revised edition)

There’s an emphasis on the ‘outdoor adventure’ aspects of New Zealand in this travel guide, which makes it especially suitable for adaption to Pulp purposes. The other distinguishing feature of the Insight Guides, as noted on the previous shelf, are that they tend to be organized regionally and comprehensive in the list of regions. Available in Kindle and Paperback.


254. The Rough Guide To New Zealand 8th Edition
254. The Rough Guide To New Zealand 9th Edition (pictured)

The rough guides, as noted earlier, usually take pride of place on our lists because they have relevant content the others don’t include, but right away this one put us off a little by describing itself as “the definitive guide to the world’s adventure capital”. New Zealand is not a city, and hence not the capital of anything. The customer reviews also gave us something of a sinking feeling, with comment especially being made that it was rather too tourist-attraction oriented. That said, there are elements of the description that enthused us enough to list it – it didn’t have a canned product description, for a start, and the content sounds excellent as always – and in the teeny-tiny font that is ubiquitous in the Rough Guides range. 848 pages of small print makes this a good reference book, not a good reading book – but that’s always been our priority in compiling these lists.

Special comment must be made of the Kindle version of the older edition, whose maps are described as “unusable” by at least one reviewer.

In earlier entries, we noted that the early edition rough guides were not as well-received or useful as the more recent ones, in which appear to have stepped up their game. That is also the case this time out, but copies of the older edition are a lot cheaper – which is always attractive in a product to be purchased for a niche application. The product description of the newer edition, after that grating statement mentioned earlier, promises “detailed accounts of every attraction, along with crystal-clear maps and plans”, which almost redeems it. The page count is unchanged. Nevertheless, this is enough to make the newer one our recommendation – if you can afford it.

Eighth Edition: New from #18.44 or purchase from Amazon for $25.04; used just one cent.

Ninth Edition: New from #13.43, Kindle $12.75, or buy from Amazon for $28; used, about $14.


255. Johnny Enzed: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914-1918

World War I was just as formative to the New Zealand national identity as to that of Australia. The two countries fought side-by-side throughout as a single corps, the Anzacs (Australian & New Zealand Army Corps), went through hell together, and fought their way through to the other side. Our national day of remembrance is shared. And because we contend that ex-servicemen are a logical source of Pulp Adventurers, this seemed the most logical history book to focus on; the tourist guides will all contain a general history that should otherwise be sufficient.

Of over 100,000 troops deployed, New Zealand suffered 60% casualties. As the product description for this book makes clear, that would be deeply impacting on any nation, but is all the more keenly felt by a small nation, such as New Zealand. This is a compilation of personal testimonies from both those who survived and those who perished, in the process bringing the personal experiences of the soldiers to life. That makes it particularly relevant to a Pulp GM wanting to use one of these men as a character.

Available in hardcover and Kindle, this only just makes our cut-off price. Used copies are clearly thought to be in demand given that they are priced higher than new copies.


256. Living and Working in New Zealand: A survival Handbook

There’s a big difference between visiting somewhere as a tourist and actually living in a country; the latter lets you experience the real country underneath the glossy veneer and dog-and-pony shows, it lets you get in touch with the people. Tour guides are useful for GMs because they employ them to choose settings for encounters and events for adventures taking place in the subject nation; living-and-working guides and cultural references put the GM in touch with the people of the location, enabling the creation and roleplaying of realistic NPCs. Of course, for a pulp campaign, everything and everybody should be turned up to “11”, but these are the best starting points. As with earlier works in this series that we’ve recommended, this is full of modern-day practical advice, only some of which will translate directly back into the Pulp period.


257. New Zealand Culture Smart: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

After the preceding product, the utility promised by this highly-rated book is clear. Available in Kindle and Paperback editions.


South America

Books about South America in general



258. Exploring South America – Loren McIntyre

A photographic exploration of South America from the rainforests to the mountains, from the coasts to the deep inland, in full color. 208 pages, each 9.5 by 12.5 inches – that’s an inch wider and one-and-a-half taller than the official D&D hardcovers. New copies are only $3, used $0.14.


259. The Penguin History of Latin America – Edwin Williamson

“Fully updated to 2009”, this history covers Argentine, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and Cuba in detail in its 720 pages. Available in Kindle and Paperback; the latter for $9 new and $5.25 used – affordably comprehensive.


260. In the Land of the Jaguar: South America and its People – Gena K Gorell, illustrated by Andrej Krystoforski

It’s hard to tell whether this book is as comprehensive as the last; how many different tribes are there in South America, and how different are they from one another? But even if this only focuses on the most interesting, it is an indispensable resource for anyone planning an adventure set in the wilds of the Southern continent of the Americas.


261. Encyclopedia of World Cultures: South America – Johannes Wilbert

As you can see from the accompanying image, this is a ten-volume set that “describes more than 1500 cultural groups across the globe”. It also costs $271 from Amazon, and prices from third parties cost $110 or more. Which leads us to suspect that these prices are for the full set, not simply the volume dealing with South America, despite the title. $27.10 – or $11 – a volume seems reasonable to us. The “used” price of $2.20, on the other hand, we suspect of being for just the volume on South America. But we aren’t certain of any of this – which is why it is here, and not in the general reference section.Buying a ‘new’ copy seems like a very big gamble to take, so we recommend buying one of the low-price used copies while they last.


262. South America (Insight Guides) – Stephan Kuffner

The “most illustrated full color travel guide on the market”. In fact, there aren’t many that cover the whole of South America, which is why we were surprised when this came up in our search. Chapters deal with each of the South American countries.


263. Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America – Adrian Forsyth and Ken Miyata

Seventeen chapters, each containing a short essay on observed wildlife and ecosystems within the Rainforests. Described as well-written and easily readable, spiced up by personal anecdotes and experiences of the authors. Each of those anecdotes is a potential encounter for PCs who brave the perils.


264. Giants of the Lost World: Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Monsters of South America – Donald R Prothero

In 1912, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book “The Lost World” was published, the central premise of which was that prehistoric creatures still survive on a plateau in the Amazon Basin. It is now well-known that he was right about everything except the ‘survive” part. At only 192 pages, this is not our preferred work on the subject, but that is languishing in the Honorable Mentions for being too expensive. Which leaves our second choice, a book that suffers from no such problems – at least at present. Amazon sells the hardcover for $28 and a Kindle edition for $15-odd. Other vendors list the new price as $16.61 (plus p&h) and used copies start at #19.65 and are in short supply.

Books about Peru



265. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Peru (2014 Revised Edition) (pictured)
265. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Peru (2016 reprint of the preceding Edition with a different cover)

There are three travel guides that we are recommending, because each contains something that the others lack. The first is this 484-page book – but that page count is misleading, because part of the book is spent spruiking another of their guides – to Italy, not even to somewhere relevant to someone who has bought this particular book.

“3D cutaway illustrations, floor plans, and reconstructions of must-see sights, plus street-by-street maps of cities and towns.” “…hundreds of photographs, illustrations, and maps.” That sounds promising – but it skimps on the sites of greatest interest, Cusco, The Inca Trail, and Machu Picchu, and on the small town that everyone goes to en route to the latter. Repetitive cultural information was another complaint. The most common complaint, though, is that it is full of beautiful pictures – at the expense of information. Like many travel guides, this has small type that can also be a problem – you would think that someone had realized that retirees play tourist, too.

2014 edition (cheaper)
2016 edition (more copies available)


266 The Rough Guide To Peru – Dilwyn Jenkins and Kiki Deere

The Rough Guides are always strong on information, so we expected this to plug the gaps left by the DK Eyewitness Guide, and to a certain extent, it does – but, unusually, this book earns criticism for lacking specific useful information, being poorly indexed. The most serious complaint of purchasers was that information was incomplete or out-of-date. Copies are also midway through our acceptable range, which would be fine if not for those criticisms. So we’re a little unsure about this one.


267. Insight Guides: Peru

Everything in the description of this book sounds great, but it leaves out some key festivals and sites. However, those that it does include are reportedly covered very well. So you want the DK guide for the images, this guide for the descriptions, and the Rough Guide for the information. Like the Rough Guide, it’s midway through our price range – which would be fine if it was the sole reference required for a comprehensive view of the subject, but as it is…


268. Peru Culture Smart! The essential guide to customs and culture – John Forrest and Julia Porturas

The description for this book satisfied us completely that this was the only Culture book needed for Peru. “The two distinctive cultures that first encountered each other five hundred years ago have, progressively, integrated. This process of mixing, however, raises questions about Peruvian identity. Peruvian society is divided between the wealthy, Westernized, coastal urban populations and the poorer, traditional, indigenous peoples, many of whom have migrated from the Andes to the cities.” “Peruvians are increasingly embracing consumerism, but for their happiness they still depend on each other, and the family is paramount.” The guide is up-to-date, but charts how history and geography have led to the modern outcomes, enabling the reader to backtrack to an earlier time period – like the Pulp Era – as desired. Kindle and paperback (and cheap).

Books about The Andes



269. Up The Amazon, Down The Andes – Ben Ballweg

We had several contenders for this subsection that were quite enticing, but one by one, they all fell to the twin rules of availability and price. Look for them all in the honorable mentions. This is the sole survivor of that bloodletting – a first-hand account from a natural explorer. The description is a recitation of the back-cover blurb. The most critical customer review is gushing with praise, describing it as “a fine guide to anyone contemplating a similar excursion” – and there have been enough reviews to merit consideration of the consensus. If you are contemplating a South American adventure, either in real life or in an RPG, this is essential reading. Kindle and paperback.

Books about Chile



270. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Chile & Easter Island (2013 Edition)
270. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Chile & Easter Island (2016 Edition)

The DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are rapidly becoming our go-to sources for South America, just as the Rough Guides were for Europe (most of the time). Region by region guides; local festivals and markets, beaches and national parks, with the information generally regarded as well organized and accessible – once you work out the internal logic to the pattern. As with most DK guides, however, this one is long on images and short on details. ‘Excellent for an overview, but not much more’ is a recurring theme in reviews. One review challenged this overall impression, however, describing it as the “worst travel guide I have ever used. Descriptions were so superficial as to be worthless. Maps were not detailed enough and therefore not helpful.” As with most travel guides, there were also complaints about the tiny font being used, with a recommendation that purchase be accompanied by a magnifying glass.

We’re providing links to two editions of the book: the 352-page 2013 edition and the 344-page 2016 version. Our limited inspections did not make it clear where the reduced page count went. There are plenty of low-priced copies of the older edition but the newer one is not very expensive, either (just more expensive) – the changeover point is around the $8-10 mark. If you can get an adequate copy of the older one for less than that, do so; once you hit that price point, you will have to start comparing prices and value for money between the two.

2013 edition (pictured):

2016 edition:


271. The Rough Guide to Chile – Shafik Meghji, Anna Kaminski, and Rosalba O’Brien

As usual, the Rough Guides pack more information into a higher page count (528, in this case) with a smaller font. They also have a reputation for including information the others lack, but it can be harder to find the information you want. Kindle and Paperback editions.


272. Culture Shock Chile: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette – Susan Roraff and Laura Camacho

There are two culture series that constantly vie for being the best recommendation in these lists, Culture Smart and Culture Shock. When it comes to Chile, Culture Shock wins that contest so overwhelmingly that we aren’t even listing the Culture Smart book. The reason is relevant: reports of numerous grave inaccuracies that had some reviewers questioning whether or not the authors had ever been to the country in the first place.

And so, to this 278-page alternative: highly rated by most, described as accurate by a Chilean native. There are suggestions that the best place to start reading is anywhere but chapter one, “First Impressions”, which contains the least accessible writing. The most serious accusation is that it focuses too closely on Santiago, to the detriment of the rest of the country. Even given that caveat, however, this is still clearly the best book on the subject, with many reviewers in a position to know commenting on its accuracy.

Books about Brazil



273. Brazil – Simona Stoppa

We expected a glut of books about the largest South American nation by area as a consequence of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, and it was a good thing that we were braced for it. From more than thirty contenders, only seven made the grade – and none were cut for price/availability reasons.

Leading off this subsection is photo book, not that you could tell that this was the subject from the product description, which is all about the nation and not the book. The customer reviews were more enlightening. 272 pages almost entirely of photos, almost-entirely in color, including reproductions of historical portraits. The latter are reported to be good but not great – it’s a very specialized art – but the photographs are top-rated in the sense that they capture images unlike those readers may have seen before: Nature (of course), a number of different cities (not just Rio and Sao Paulo), and Cultural life. The selection seems more profound than is usually the case, capturing nuances and subjects rarely the focus of attention. The text that accompanies the images is succinct but nevertheless forms a good introduction to the country despite being concise.

New copies are just $6 through third-party vendors, and used copies start at $4.33. Page sizes are roughly the same as most RPG hardcovers.


274. Stringing Together a Nation: Candido Mariano da Silva Rondon and the Construction of a Modern Brazil, 1906-1930 – Todd A Diacon

Thanks to the very broad history we linked to in the main South America section, there’s been no need to include many specific histories in the subsections; the brief introductions in the travel guides seemed more than sufficient in most cases. We’re making an exception for this book, for reasons of direct relevance.

The subject is one of the most debated figures in modern Brazilian history, a military engineer who spearheaded the construction of telegraph lines and roads that connected the interior with the coast for the first time, attempting social engineering to create a unified Brazil from disparate local communities in the process.

For half the ‘Pulp Era” this project is contemporary; for the other half, it is newly-complete and beginning to exert its social and cultural influence, often (presumably) over the objections of the locals. That makes this book directly relevant to the Pulp GM who intends to use the Amazon or the Brazilian Rainforest in his campaign.

Hardcovers range in price from roughly $20 to $85, but the paperback editions are a more modest $14 to $21 – with Amazon themselves at the top end of that range. The Kindle edition also costs $14.


275. Brazil (Insight Guides)

We were very aware that the World Cup and Olympics would have had a strong, even profound, effect on the tourism industry of Brazil and were anxious to minimize that impact in favor of sources that were more pulp-relevant. With that as a secondary criteria in evaluating the travel guides on offer, we have selected two as being the most appropriate for reference by a Pulp GM. The 2014 Insight Guide is the first of these, focusing almost entirely on everything else you can do in Brazil. 392 pages, available in Kindle and Paperback editions – used paperbacks from as little as 6 cents.


276. The Rough Guide to Brazil (8th revised edition) – Clemmy Manzo, Kiki Deere, Stephen Keeling, and Daniel Jacobs

“…in-depth coverage of its diverse wildlife, dynamic cities and exhilarating scenery (think lush rainforest, thundering waterfalls and the world’s best beaches)” is how the Rough Guide begins the description of Brazil and their approach to this travel guide. 736 pages – a little thin compared to most Rough Guides, with copies available for as little as $8.


277. Brazil Culture Smart: The essential guide to customs and Culture (2nd edition) – Sandra Branco and Rob Williams

We found the product description – which is not at all a recitation of the back cover blurb – to be so evocative that this immediately became our choice for Brazilian Culture. “For many people Brazil conjures up images of football, Carnival and fine coffee, but it is much more than beaches and bossa nova. If you could choose only one word to describe Brazil, it would be diversity. The variety of racial types, lifestyles, wealth, landscape and climate is enormous.

“Jeitinho is the Brazilian means of dealing creatively with life’s everyday complications. Literally translated as a “little way”, in practice it means that regardless of the rules or systems in place, where there is a will there has to be a way around them. The jeitinho is so ingrained in daily life that you can see examples everywhere; managing to get a seat when all the places are booked up, traveling with more luggage than is allowed or successfully ordering something that is not on the restaurant menu.”

It’s for useful characterization guides to the people and society like this that we recommend cultural guides. What we found so compelling was not just the ubiquitousness of the practice, but that the rest of the society had clearly evolved to accommodate it, making this one fact the key to unlocking government practices, the approach to bureaucracy, law enforcement, shopping, you name it. Of course, we’re sure that this is just the start of the story!

This is a pocket book, of 168 pages. Amazon want $7.19 for the Kindle Edition and $8.42 for the paperback, but lists copies through third-party vendors for $1.94 new and $0.01 used, That makes this a bargain.


278. Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil – Nancy Scheper-Hughes

When we read the product description, we weren’t sure whether or not this was a novel. It was an editorial review by Publishers Weekly that clarified matters – this is a depressing, even distressing, report of real conditions in parts of Brazil, where child mortality rates are so high that mothers avoid close attachment to their offspring until infancy is behind them, with attendant impacts on the personalities of the children.

What we found surprising is the controversy attributed to the finding that mother love is a luxury permitted only to those whose children have a reasonable expectancy of survival; the same social and cultural phenomenon is well-known to have existed in London before the advent of modern medicine, particularly in terms of the purity of water supplies. We couldn’t help but remember the old adage about those who ignore the lessons of history.

It’s much harder to ascribe a particular date range to which this book applies. The study deals with three generations of a single family, but the term ‘generation’ is a loose one. In biological terms, it could be as little as 42 years, though it is probably longer; using one accepted chronological definition, it could be 60 years, and using another, 75. If the entire lifespan of the three generations are included, it could be as much as 50 years more than that, though it probably isn’t. With publication of this edition in 1993, that gives us a probable range of 1918-1933 as the point of commencement of the subjects. Which puts the early part of this study squarely into the pulp era; hence we decided that it was “possibly relevant” and could not be ignored.

That said, there are some scathing comments in the more critical reviews who feel that the book, and its reviewers, are generalizing the conditions described to the majority of Brazilians, or even to the majority of the Brazilian poor, and arguably, the subtitle gives that impression, too, a point that one commentator finds particularly appalling. Having seen the impact of sensationalizing other issues, we can’t help but feel these complaints have some validity, confining the applicability of the book to small pockets of society.

We therefore present it without endorsement for the reader to decide for themselves whether or not to incorporate it into their thinking. We’re of two minds on the question, ourselves.

The book is 614 pages and typical paperback sized. New copies are from $9 and sued from a little over half that.


279. The Mystery of Samba: Popular Music and National Identity in Brazil – Hermano Vianna

And so, to something altogether more cheery as a subject: the Samba, and its relationship to the Brazilian national identity. “Within Brazil … samba symbolizes the racial and cultural mixture that, since the 1930s, most Brazilians have come to believe defines their unique national identity. But how did Brazil become “the Kingdom of Samba” only a few decades after abolishing slavery in 1888?”

As soon as we see “1930s”, we immediately think Pulp. In combination with the history at the start of this subsection, this promises to be especially informative about the cultural landscape and its evolution during the pulp era. 168 pages, paperbacks cost from $1.53 to $28, Kindle for $16.52. Hardcovers are priced outside our acceptable range, but are also available.


280. Capoeira: Roots of the Dance-Fight-Game – Nestor Capoeira

“Capoeira is simultaneously a dance, a fight, and a game. Created by the Africans brought to Brazil as slaves beginning in 1500, Capoeira was forbidden by law but survived underground. When open practice was allowed in the 1930s it soon became very popular.” A lot of people who had never heard of Capoeira before would have learned of it when it was featured in a Stargate SG-1 episode. The description quoted is both accurate and misleading; the martial art/combat style was forbidden, but survived underground by masquerading as dance moves. We suspect that the errors have resulted from condensing the story too much, as this book has received nothing but positive reviews since its publication in 2002, and by now factual errors of that magnitude would have been called out by someone. The date of the status change makes this book relevant to the pulp era; as we said earlier, we hear 1920s or 1930s and we think “Pulp”.

Books about The Amazon



281. Tree Of Rivers: The Story of the Amazon – John Hemming

The world’s largest river feeds a huge tropical rainforest which some believe to be the largest and most complex land-based ecosystem on the planet (we have seen estimates that between 10,000 and 100,000 completely undiscovered species remain hidden, awaiting the revelation of their existence, beneath the green, leafy, umbrella). This book not only tells the ‘story’ of the River and the forest that it nurtures, it tells the stories of those larger-than-life characters who have been ensnared by its charms since Europeans first beheld it in the year 1500, from intrepid explorers, Jesuit evangelists, rubber barons, botanists, fearless advocates for Indian Rights, archaeologists, and anthropologists. Will your PCs be next?


282. Walking the Amazon: 860 days, One Step at a Time – Ed Stafford

And, speaking of people seduced by the great River, we have the story of Ed Stafford’s epic journey on foot from one mouth of the Amazon (on the Pacific coast of Peru) to its source high in the Andes. Along the way he encounters and outwits dangerous animals, machete-wielding natives, and his own physical and emotional limits. Ed’s descriptions are lush and vivid, and make great flavor text for South American adventures.


The Pacific and its Islands

The Pacific Ocean covers almost a third of the globe, and scattered across it are numerous islands and archipelagos. Settled as much as 50,000 years ago, some by land bridge and some by sea, these then became isolated pockets of individuality. And yet, there are consistencies, consensuses and commonalities that bind many of these islands together just enough for them to be treated uniformly as a subject.

Books about The Pacific in general



283. Mysteries Of The Deep – compiled by Frank Spaeth

Lots of improbable stuff but useful as reference, an overview of ocean “urban legends”.


284. The Pacific Islands: Environment and Society, Revised Edition – edited by Moshe Rapaport

This book “explores the diverse landforms, climates, and ecosystems of the Pacific island region. Multiple chapters, written by leading specialists, cover the environment, history, culture, population, and economy.” “This is the only contemporary text on the Pacific Islands that covers both environment and sociocultural issues and will thus be indispensable for any serious student of the region. Unlike other reviews, it treats the entirety of Oceania (with the exception of Australia) and is well illustrated with numerous photos and maps, including a regional atlas.” 452 pages, published by the University Of Hawaii press, this book only sneaks through our criteria for availability if we don’t look too closely at the $31.51 price of the Kindle Edition. New copies are similar in price at $34+, but used copies are less than half of this, starting at $14.81.


285. The Pacific Islands – Douglas L Oliver

The product description for this 477-page book is amongst the most unhelpful we have ever seen. Fortunately, one customer has provided an extremely comprehensive review, enabling it to be evaluated and, ultimately, included. This book is a history of the Pacific Islands by an anthropologist who lived in “the region” for an extended period. “He draws on both his training and personal knowledge to not only describe the different islands and their groupings, but also to analyze the reasons for their cultural, political, and economic differences.

There are three main sections. First, the physical geography and evolution of the islands, the settlers now considered indigenous to the region. Second, the impact of Westerners, including “explorers, whalers, traders, missionaries, planters, blackbirders, merchants, and miners”. The third and most substantial section “identifies strong influences on development in the region, and traces how they have affected the history of each particular island group or island.” At the end of the book, after an epilogue discussing how the islands have gained and lost by inclusion in the modern world, is an extensive list of primary sources and suggested reading organized topically, and an index, the combination of which overcomes the absence of footnotes.

The text is described as “exceptionally clear and engaging,” especially “for a history book”. Comprehensive, Scholarly, and Comprehensible are a rare combination, and is the reason why there are a total of twenty combinations of format and edition. Used copies start at just 38 cents; new copies are generally much more expensive. Virtually every edition has a significantly different cover, by the way.

Mass-Market Paperback (pictured, much older edition):


286. A History Of The Pacific Islands (second edition) – Steven Roger Fischer

This book only just sneaks under our restrictions for price and availability. This is probably a more up-to-date book than the Oliver suggested above, but it’s also much more expensive, and otherwise covers much of the same ground. If there were more copies of the Oliver available at cheap prices, this would not have made the cut as being redundant in terms of relevant material, As things stand, it’s included here as a backup.


287. Among The Islands: Adventures In The Pacific – Tim Flannery

Tim Flannery is credited with discovering more species than Darwin. In this book, he recounts a number of expeditions, from early in his career, through the South Pacific. While he was looking for exotic life-forms, he found much more than he bargained for, in the form of wild, weird places, local taboos, foul weather, dense jungles, and sheer isolation. Note that while there is a Kindle edition, it is the most expensive option when it comes to this book.


288. Landfalls of Paradise: Cruising Guide to the Pacific Islands (5th edition) Earl R. Hinz and Jim Howard

We shouldn’t include this book, technically. It’s a sailing standard, but that’s of limited utility to a pulp GM, and it’s too expensive for our criteria. “Updated Charts and text reflecting changes in regulations and facilities for most countries” – the older text would be more useful for our purposes. New Appendices include “…an extensive list of information sources: cruising guidebooks, important general tourist guides, chart suppliers, and key web sites for the countries covered.”

We were about to dismiss it as nothing more than an extensive curiosity, when we noticed mention of that Appendix, which would have justified inclusion in honorable mentions, but not in the main list – but for the sake of due diligence, we checked the customer reviews, and the first of those convinced us that maybe it should be in the main list, after all: “Considering the relatively small market for a book like this, it’s not surprising there’s virtually nothing comparable in print. And Earl’s territory is vast – all of the Pacific islands from Hawaii to New Zealand and north into Micronesia.

The numerous maps should prove useful for orientation and could save you a bundle on official charts (although the author and publisher disclaim any responsibility for errors). There’s lots of useful ‘passage planning’, yacht entry, weather, and public holiday information here.” The review then proceeds to list omissions and discrepancies in evenness of coverage (with numerous exclamation marks) before adding, “All that said, these criticisms are mute as there simply isn’t another South Pacific cruising guide to choose from. It’s a credit to Earl Hinz that he has kept this book going through four editions.”

The next review was far more critical, but only added to the potential value of the book for our purposes, criticizing it as being surprisingly out of date and covering too large a geographic area. Other reviewers said essentially the same thing, undermining the primary reasons we hesitated to list it in the first place. And so, here it is.

Books about Tahiti



289. Tahiti Beyond The Postcard: Power Place, and Everyday Life – Miriam Kahn

Tahiti was just another Pacific island that few had ever heard of until Paul Gauguin began finding success with his paintings of native women. Suddenly, Tahiti was the Pacific Paradise in the lay mentality, a reputation it has been able to hold onto ever since, albeit with a steadily-weakening grasp as rivals and challengers have emerged. With the popular perceptions framed and distorted by this reputation, it can be difficult to look “beyond the postcard” and see the reality, but that is exactly what this book attempts to do in its 288 pages. Winner of the 2013 ICAS Book Prize for Social Sciences, copies are now beginning to dry up and the sharks are circulating. The Hardcover costs $70.86 whether used or now, and new copies of the paperback are $28+. There are used paperbacks for about $16, however, and that’s why it can be listed in this collection.

Books about Hawaii



290. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Hawaii

Hawaii has always been one of the challengers to Tahiti’s claim to be Paradise – a claim exerted by others on the island’s behalf, it should be noted – but this is especially true of the 20th century and the latter half thereof in particular, as air fares brought the island group into the reach of ordinary tourists. So popular is it as a destination that most of the individual islands have their own travel guides. This is the best of the few that deal with the group as a whole.


291. Hawaii Off The Beaten Track – Sean Pager and Carrie Frasure

The text of the back cover sounded so typically “touristy” in nature that we almost gave up on this book. Then we noticed the length – 320 pages is unusually lengthy for this sort of ‘hidden gems’ travel book – and saw that several of the reviewers had explicitly stated that despite numerous trips to the US’ island state, this book had revealed attractions to explore that they had never heard of, and talks about the things that the locals do, not tourists. That gave it enough value for inclusion.

Books about New Guinea

New Guinea is arguably the last undiscovered country, the most mysterious place on earth. It used to be South America, and before that, central Africa, but those places have been explored (however incompletely) and investigated and are now reasonably well understood. The one takeaway you get from a quick search for books on New Guinea is that the state of exploration there feels more Victorian than anything else – isolated individuals on individual journeys into the (relatively) unknown. Furthermore, an awful lot of what is now known about the island stems from the Japanese invasion and allied counter-invasion of World War II. It might be a false impression, but that’s the impression that is conveyed, nevertheless.

The second largest island in the world (excluding Australia), New Guinea has more than 1000 stone-age tribes, each with its own language, customs, and folklore, very little of which has changed over the last 40,000 years. Contemplate that a moment and you will come to appreciate the scale of the problems of trying to condense any information about the island – which is divided into two separate national identities, Papua/West Papua (part of Indonesia) to the west, and Papua New Guinea to the East.


292. Where Masks Still Dance: New Guinea – Chris Rainier

There aren’t many photographic albums of New Guinea, and even fewer of them are affordable according to our standards. Over the course of eight trips in ten years, Chris Rainier has documented the lives and rituals of …some of the inhabitants (bearing in mind our prefatory comments). Short essays provide the context, meaning, and adventure behind each of the images. That’s a lot to pack into just 132 pages, even pages that are a little over a foot square. New copies will run you a fairly typical (relative to other photographic books of New Guinea) $45, but there are some used copies from just $10.


293. Lonely Planet Papua New Guinea & Solomon Islands – Regis St Louis, Jean-Bernard Carillet, and Dean Stanes

There is also not a lot of choice when it comes to travel guides, not that there is much in the way of formal tourism in New Guinea anyway, and much of what there is – diving on wrecks and challenging yourself on the Kokoda trail – stem from World War II, and so won’t be relevant to the pulp GM anyway. The leading customer comment is enlightening:

“Very informative resource, but not enough emphasis was on the dangers in PNG. Everything is locked, with armed guards standing in front of hotels in Port Moresby. In Mt. Hagen we were bussed 100 yards from the airport to the place where small Cessna planes took off for our lodges. In Tari, we were bussed, again, with police escort, to the airport and locked behind the gates to protect us against “rascals.” Karawari lodge on Karawari River and the Ambua lodge in the highlands are well described in the book, while the prices are correctly stated. Seems that travel in PNG is not recommended with security problems throughout the country and prices of $800 per night, as quoted for the Ambua lodge. Mailed several cards from the … cruise ship, paying 16 pounds sterling (the ship is British registry), but the cards never arrived [in] the States or to Europe. The ship’s agent was to mail the cards; the … crew would not let us walk to town to visit the post office.”

At best, then, this presents an overview. Available in Kindle and Paperback. New copies are from $11 and used from $9, and plentiful.


294. New Guinea and its inhabitants Pt I and II – Alfred Russel Wallace

This is one of the earliest works on the subject, originally published in 1879 and still one of the standard references (!) – a general sketch of the islands and the peculiar life-forms that inhabit it, with the occasional brief discussion of the indigenous tribes. Wallace, the author, is famous as the man who devised the theory of natural selection, a huge contribution to the theory of evolution propounded by Charles Darwin. This book is available in Kindle and Paperback formats and affordable in both. There is next to no difference in price between used and new.


295. First Contact: New Guinea’s Highlanders Encounter The Outside World – Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson

The story of the 1930 encounter between a team of gold prospectors and a civilization completely ignorant of the outside world, as remembered by the participants, with 100 black and white photographs. This is a documentary record of New Guinea in the pulp era.


296. Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea – Kira Salak

This book tells the story of the author’s trek across Papua New Guinea and the physical and cultural terrain that she encountered. Kindle and Paperback. New $9-11, used from less than $4.


297. Where The Spirits Dwell: An Odyssey in the Jungle of New Guinea – Tobias Schneebaum

The author recounts the story of his four years living among the Asmat tribe of New Guinea with the reputation of being ferocious cannibals. As is so often the case, that reputations was misleading, at least during his time there. New copies of this paperback cost about $7 and used copies as little as 80 cents.


298. New Guinea Ceremonies – David Gillson

In 1973, the Gimi tribe were still marking birth, death, initiation, and marriage with the same ceremonies as they had used for the purpose for thousands of years. Today those ceremonies are vanishing forever, obliterated by the onslaught of outside culture and regulatory legal pressures. Gillson’s photographs and accompanying text are the only record in existence for these lost cultural practices.

Books about Kuru



299. Kuru Sorcery: Disease and Danger in the New Guinea Highlands (2nd edition) – Shirley Lindenbaum

The Fore tribe in New Guinea practice ritual cannibalism, and have done so for so long that there is a disease that has evolved to take advantage of the practice, called Kuru. Like a lot of readers, we first became aware of it in Larry Niven’s novel, Dream Park, where it featured strongly in the ‘adventure scenario’ that provided the background to the focal murder/espionage plotline. Traditionally, the men got the best parts of the bodies, while the women and children got the leftovers, including the brains, where the disease resides. This book brings the reader right up to date with the current understanding of the disease and the practices that engender it.

This book only sneaks into our tolerance zone on a technicality – while there are used copies available for under $5, there are only about four of them, and then you’re into the $20-30 price range. There is a Kindle edition, but that’s not cheap either, at $18 and change.But there is one, and there are more than 15 used copies, and the cheapest of them is under the $20 threshold, so it makes the list – if you don’t look too closely.

Books about Fiji



300. Fiji In Pictures – David A Boehm

A slim book at only 64 pages and dating from 1976 so printing and photography have come a long way since this was published. In this case, that’s a good thing, as there was a coup in 2006 in Fiji that triggered a period of political instability that lasted until 2014, and the most relevant material that doesn’t explicitly target the 1920s and 30s will be that which predates the change in government. Books this old come in two categories, as a rule of thumb: collectible, and cheap. This book is a member of the latter group. The only problem is that there aren’t enough copies to be listed here, strictly speaking – 10 used paperbacks and 3 used with ‘library binding’. Since this was the only book of its kind that we could find, probably a consequence of that instability, and because price wasn’t the problem, we have decreed an exception.


301. Fiji History and Travel Guide: People, Government, Politics, Culture, Tradition, Tourism – Samuel Ash

This 162-page book claims to have it all – but at that length, we suspect it might be a relatively superficial treatment. Nevertheless, this was the closest thing to a culture guide for Fiji that we could locate – cf. comments regarding the shortage of photo books about the country – and it ticks the availability boxes, so it earns a place here. The book description asserts that “a national culture has not emerged”; Mike knows some expatriates from Fiji that would dispute that, arguing that the national cuisine and islander lifestyle form common elements around which other cultural influences express themselves. Not being in a position to argue the point, we choose to move on.


302. The Rough Guide to Fiji

At only 256 pages, this is one of the shortest Rough Guides we’ve seen. Customer comments range from praise for the narrative portions of the book and its use in planning your own excursions, to condemnation for being out of date in both prices and some descriptions such as restaurant hours (which don’t both us) and contact information (which might have been more useful). Beyond that, it is judged to be comprehensive and reliable.


303. Insight Pocket Guide Fiji

This is described as being more up-to-date and useful in finding new places for even repeat visitors to explore. However, they tend to want to force you into one of their pre-planned itineraries, and there is no page count. Balancing that is the fact that this predates the 2006 coup – which was one of the most significant cultural and political developments in modern Fijian history. In other words, this might turn out to be more useful to the Pulp GM than the Rough Guide, or it might not; we had enough doubts that we are listing it second. New copies are almost $45, but there are used copies for just one cent.

Books about the Tuka Movement

304. Neither Cargo nor Cult: Ritual Politics and the Colonial Imagination in Fiji – Martha Kaplan

“In the 1880s an oracle priest, Navosavakadua, mobilized Fijians of the hinterlands against the encroachment of both Fijian chiefs and British colonizers. British officials called the movement the Tuka cult, imagining it as a contagious superstition that had to be stopped. Navosavakadua and many of his followers, deemed “dangerous and disaffected natives,” were exiled. Scholars have since made Tuka the standard example of the Pacific cargo cult, describing it as a millenarian movement in which dispossessed islanders sought Western goods by magical means. In this study of colonial and post-colonial Fiji, Martha Kaplan examines the effects of narratives made real and traces a complex history that began neither as a search for cargo, nor as a cult.” The ‘Tuka Movement’ may be 40+ years old by the time of the Pulp Era but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be alive and well (and still forbidden) in backwater pockets or hidden enclaves, perhaps evolving in the hands of a new and more (or less) radical generation. The Pulp potential is obvious.

Books about Easter Island

Easter Island is one of the most intensely-studied specks of dirt on the globe, beaten only (perhaps) by the Valley Of The Kings in Egypt and Pompeii. Yet, while those sites are now well explored and understood, Easter Island remains shrouded in mystery and wrapped in controversy. The situation is tailor-made for an enterprising GM to ‘invent his own answers’ and build an adventure around them, using one of these as his starting point. Which one? That’s what makes each GM different…


305. A Companion To Easter Island – James Grant Peterkin

“The essential guidebook to this mysterious and enigmatic island, and the only book about Easter Island written by someone who lives there. This guidebook includes the island’s history*, culture and all of its significant archaeological sites.”
* as it was accepted to be at the time!

A fairly non-controversial foundation for the books that follow, this is your basic travel guide to the island, which – contrary to some reports in books about “ancient astronauts” in the 70s – is not uninhabited. This book was published in 2014 (it’s important to keep track of those dates in establishing where the different books stand in relation to each other, in this case) and 170 pages. Available in Kindle and Paperback, and – strictly speaking – too expensive for this list, but the content – including 100 color photos and color maps of both the island and Hanga Roa, the town on the island, have persuaded us to make an exception. 44 of 48 customer reviews gave it five stars, which helped in reaching that decision – and the others gave it 3 or 4 stars out of 5. One goes so far as to describe this as “Rapa Nui For Dummies”.


306. Aku-Aku: The Secret of Easter Island – Thor Heyerdahl

This is a 384 page book which includes 62 full-color photographs, published in 1958 and describing Thor Heyerdahl’s research on the many giant stone statues or ‘moai’ for which Easter Island is famous. This book and the film of the same name went a long way to creating the popular awareness of Easter Island.

Most of his evidence has now been refuted by later experts and his methods have been severely criticized for selective use and interpretation of evidence to reach misleading conclusions. Nevertheless, this book is full of anecdotes that could be translated to a pulp setting, and the GM is under no constraints not to decide that Heyerdahl was right, or partially right. His basic theory postulates an advanced race of Peruvians who created and moved the statues, completely unrelated to the later inhabitants. Those “ancient astronaut” writers then connected this notion with places like Machu Picchu and speculated freely from that ‘foundation’.

New copies of this book are – astonishingly – still available (albeit costing $92+), but there are 76 used copies between the hardcover and paperback versions for far more modest prices of a few dollars. Bear the publication date in mind when forming expectations.


307. Easter Island: The Mystery Solved – Thor Heyerdahl

This is a 1989 book by the same archaeologist, returning to Easter Island 31 years after his first expedition there, still convinced that he was right, but having modified and updated his theories somewhat in light of later investigations. He relates a history of the island through the eyes of discoverers, and claims to have solved the mystery of how the statues were ‘walked’ to their current resting places. The book contains many color photos and maps. 255 pages. We’re linking to the hardcover and not the paperback because used copies of the more durable book start at one cent, while used copies (and new copies) of the paperback are about $17.25.


308. Easter Island Guide For Inquisitive Minds – Brien Foerster

This 2013 book takes Heyerdahl’s central thesis, updates it again, and then reports it as speculation using language that implies that the author has no doubt and is merely being rhetorically polite to those who doubt the theory. 156 pages, and described by one reviewer as “Academic – difficult to read – tedious, not the best writing, no pictures.” The cynic in us points out that someone would have to actually go there to take pictures. But that might be unworthy of us; we have no evidence that Foerster was not an annual visitor. Kindle and Paperback (both used and new) and all of them reasonably-priced.


309. History’s Greatest Mysteries: Easter Island – Charles River Editors

This 2013 book – published in the same year as Foerster’s – “comprehensively covers the entire history of Easter Island, including how the first settlers got there” – but one of the controversies is who the first settlers were and when – “explains the theories and mysteries behind the famous megalith statues…” – “…includes pictures of the statues and other important people and places” – and, most usefully, includes a bibliography for further reading. We haven’t read this book but have the impression that the author has decided “we don’t know who’s right so I’ll describe everyone’s theories”. In just 42 pages. And avoiding some of the most difficult questions, like how the statues were transported from the quarry where they were carved. Kindle and paperback.


310. The Statues That Walked: Unraveling the Mystery of Easter Island – Terry Hunt and Carlo Lipo

…”The prevailing accounts of the island’s history tell a story of self-inflicted devastation: a glaring case of eco-suicide. The island was dominated by a powerful chiefdom that promulgated a cult of statue making, exercising a ruthless hold on the island’s people and rapaciously destroying the environment, cutting down a lush palm forest that once blanketed the island in order to construct contraptions for moving more and more statues, which grew larger and larger. As the population swelled in order to sustain the statue cult, growing well beyond the island’s agricultural capacity, a vicious cycle of warfare broke out between opposing groups, and the culture ultimately suffered a dramatic collapse.” This book attempts to prove this prevailing theory wrong on all counts, turning the native inhabitants into ecological saints from whom we can learn in the modern age.

Until we read about that in the third paragraph, we were quite excited about this book too. The book is 256 pages long, and the first review starts by saying “the main text is only 180 pages”, which further dampened our enthusiasm. However, it does provide references of the sort that you can usually only find in a university library, and they do raise serious questions about the assumptions on which that established theory is based, so there is some serious meat on the bones, and this book deserves inclusion in this list on that basis.

See also books in the South America/Chile subsection.


Afterword by Mike:

Blair was going to write this afterword, back before this shelf got split in two. His afterword will appear with the new places shelf that is to follow this one.

One of the great challenges of exotic places in a pulp campaign is making them seem exotic to the players without making them nonsensical. The presence – or absence – of an underlying rational explanation for the way things are is always palpable, whether the cause is realized, or not.

It’s like a monster in D&D – you can always tell, with little more than a glance, which ones have been developed from some rational basis and which are simply collections of abilities and stats without real rhyme or reason.

It’s never enough to simply label something “alien” or “exotic” and think that excuses irrationality. For this reason, basing places, or creatures, on some rational basis is always preferable, and when it comes to places and societies, the easiest approach is to start with something that really exists, enabling you to tap into the sum of knowledge about the source to make your own creation more plausible.

In 1950s (and earlier) cinema, cave-men always wore simple loin-skins or animal hides, spoke in grunts (at most), and threw spears or boulders. The first movie I can think of to break that mold was 2001 A Space Odyssey, in which a primitive man ‘discovers’ the use of animal bones as a club, guided – it seems – by the black monolith into becoming a tool user.

Start from the real and infuse the fantastic as necessary, and you will always produce a better, more believable, more tangible location. But to start from the real, you need to know about it. And that’s where these books come in.

Every location contained in today’s bookshelf is a place that is remote enough, isolated enough, that players can’t be sure what fantastic elements have been introduced by the GM. They don’t know what they will find – and, as with real explorers, that is always exciting.

Next week: The 5th Shelf – The More-Exotic & Stranger Places!


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Periodic Goodie Roundup October 2016

Every now and then I try to squeeze in reviews of Kickstarters and other new products that have caught my eye. I don’t have the time to do as many of these as I would like, but every now and then the stars collide in just the right way.

Today I have six products and two charitable fundraisers to tell you about – in as much detail as I can squeeze in, time-wise – which won’t be as much as usual, due to the sheer number of products.

Originz – The Superpowered Card Game by Flavor Faction Studio


We start with something that isn’t an RPG at all, but which could be used as a tool in a superhero RPG in many different ways, from quick creation of characters when you’re in a rush, to training your imagination, to trying out character ideas in advance to constructing them using your RPGs’ rules system, to simply functioning as a warm-up to get everyone in the mood.

It is actually a card game for 2-8 players in which each player becomes a superhero or villain, building additional abilities and variants onto their basic nature in what they hope will be a winning combination and then attacking each other. Additional cards offer tactical advantages and setbacks. The basic pledge gets you 264+ cards (there have been some additions unlocked as stretch goals). Character abilities are themed according to that basic nature, as you can see from the promo illustration below.


There’s a lot to like about Originz which is why they were the first product that I reached out to when this article became inevitable.

The game itself reeks of flavor, and the opinions of backers have already served to tweak the design of various game elements. They offer free shipping to anywhere in the world. The basic backing package is surprisingly affordable. And there’s a healthy emphasis on fun – without which, there’s really no point in playing, is there?

You can download the 16-page pre-production rule book from their Kickstarter page, which is another nice touch.

This game has already hit its’ funding target and started unlocking stretch goals. As I write this, there are still three days to go, but by the time you read it, that will be two days or less – so if you are interested, check out their kickstarter page quickly.

Click on either of the block-bordered images above or this link to visit their kickstarter page, where you can also view a demo of play.

ERA The Consortium – A Universe Of Expansions by Shades of Vengeance


I gushed about ERA: The Consortium in A New ERA and other products to empty your wallet back in February. The concept, the scope, the production values, the fundraising approach, and that specific fundraising campaign, all got big ticks from me.

It seems that a lot of people shared my opinion, as that campaign was a huge success.

Well, they’re back, with this fundraising campaign for a massive 18 expansions for simultaneous release.


On the agenda are psionics, cargo trading rules, information expansions on sub-factions within the Resistance, and an explanation of what really happened in a confused part of the game-system’s integrated background, source books for each of the races, and more!

And, once again, there are nice touches – such as assuming that people might already have the core books, and offering backer bundles both with and without them included.


Production values haven’t dropped, either. In fact, they don’t get much better – they would need to invent some way of animating the images on a printed page, or something like that, in order for that to happen! I want to especially call out little touches like the graphic below as being two steps above and beyond what you usually see.


This project has just crossed the threshold of being 100% funded with 30 full days to go, and at that rate they may need to add more stretch goals – the highest target they have listed is only 3 and 1/3 times the sum they have already raised in a little over three days. Even with the notorious mid-campaign funding slump, they should get over that line fairly handily.


So look: either I continue to gush – to the point where I won’t get to the other products & campaigns that I want to mention – or I simply send you to their kickstarter page. Click on this link or any of the images with the blue borders above.

Terrain Flatpacks by Mobilscape Adventures


Thick, heavy rulebooks. Page after page of notes. Perhaps a laptop. Dice. Miniatures. Terrain tiles. Have you noticed your gaming bag or bags getting heavier and heavier over the last few years?

A new company, Mobilscape Adventures, certainly have. One of the guys involved is an experienced set designer who knows how they do it for TV, movies, and stage, and thought that employing the same flat-pack techniques might work for RPGs.

Double-sided art, as is fairly standard, assemble with clips, and designed to integrate as the story progresses, for example moving from forest to town.

Their starter pack is just US$20 and provides many of the set decoration pieces you might require: 4 Trees, 4 2×6 Trail/River Tiles 2 2×2 Trail River Tiles, 4 Doors, 5 Fences, 4 Barricade/Walls, 1 Gate, 2 Tents, 1 Well, 3 Chests, 8 Crates, 6 Counter Tokens, 6 Effect Markers, 3 Tree Stumps, 2 Trail Signs, 2 Campfires, 6 Bushes, 6 Rocks, and 30 mounting clips.

It’s at the higher pledge levels that things start to get interesting. $40 gets you the Dungeon Pack plus starter pack. More set decoration pieces, these suited specifically to exploring the underground world that is ubiquitous in D&D / Pathfinder. $70 adds the House Pack – two 2-story houses plus interior dressings. $100 adds the Tower Pack – everything you need to create two multi-level watchtowers plus still more set decorations. And $180 gets you double of everything.


What’s really nice is the fact that you can add selectively – so if you decide that the dungeon kit isn’t really something you need, but you want the village houses, you can add them to your basic pack pledge.

Best of all, they are intended to be a lot lighter to transport from place to place, and quick to assemble when you get there.

Free shipping within the US completes the package.

This campaign is a little behind the funding curve at the moment, with quite a long road to reach the funding goal, but they still have more than three weeks to get there.

Without knowing the ins-and-outs of how their decisions were made, I think that perhaps they would have been better off with a smaller goal for just the village set, with the basic pack as an add-on, then follow that with a separate fundraising campaign for the tower, perhaps with the dungeon kit as a stretch goal and the basic pack as an add-on once again. The smaller targets and increased focus on the offerings that really stand out, might have had better winds of fortune. But you can’t fault them for enthusiasm!

So check out what they have to offer by clicking on either of the red-bordered images above or clicking on this link and show them a little love!

Ice Caverns & Terrain Accessories by Legendary Realms


The weight you save with the Flatpacks might occasionally get used with this gorgeous translucent Ice Cavern terrain.


Also included are some accessories that will also be cast in the translucent resin – the images shown below are of production models.


These might look fragile, but resin can be just-about indestructible so long as you don’t do something silly like hitting it with a sledgehammer.

And, because it’s translucent, you can add to the variations available by placing different dungeon tiles underneath – water, rock, whatever (or simple colored or white cardboard) – just as you can see hints of the brown cloth through them in the image above.

I’m really not aware of anything even vaguely similar on the market, so this is definitely worth thinking about. The fundraising campaign has just crossed the halfway-there mark with 21 days to go. I would expect them to get across the line handily, though stretch goals might be out of reach without a big increase in backing.


You can take a closer look by clicking on any of the images with the light-blue bordered images above, or by clicking on this link.

NITE Team 4 – Military Hacking RPG by Alice & Smith


This is a bit of a ringer, being an RPG computer game. NITE Team 4 is a military hacking/cyberwarfare game in which you are a new recruit to a covert hacking cell who oppose various black hat groups and hostile states in various missions that have been crafted from leaked NSA documents. The realism promised by foundations in actual espionage tradecraft is a key selling point.

My primary interest in this project is what lessons I could learn to then apply to more traditional pen-and-paper games. But immersive plotlines and a story-based orientation with a little action on the side certainly makes for an intriguing prospect beyond that.


Release will take place through Steam for PC and Mac.

This campaign took just 24 hours to achieve 50% of their funding goal, and are now approaching the 70% mark. With 33 days still to run on the campaign, it’s almost certain at this point to make target. If you’re interested, click on either of the silver-bordered images above or follow this link.

Voyage of Fortune’s Star — a 7th Sea cRPG by Stewart Wieck (founder of White Wolf)


As with the other projects I’m discussing, I contacted the games producers for permission to use their campaign’s artwork, but – for a change – I got no reply. The above is a piece of (nice) generic clip art sourced from Pixabay, licensed under CC0.

The success of the campaign for 7th Sea 2nd Edition (the most highly-funded RPG of all time on Kickstarter) was certain to attract other projects to what was firmly established as a game franchise in the process. The first of those that I am aware of is this computer-based RPG.

Pirate-based computer RPGs have a long and often-successful history, stretching all the way back to “Pirates!” on the Commodore-64 in my case. You primarily play the captain of a ship named the Fortune’s Star. A combination of dialogue-based RPG and swashbuckling action is reminiscent of many other games and a proven-successful formula.

The game will be released (if funding succeeds) as a digital release as well as the more traditional boxed-game format. Versions are being developed for PC, Mac, and Linux. The digital release will be through Steam and be DRM-free. Unlike some computer games, it is planned to be available in English, Italian, French, German and Spanish languages, possibly more.

This goes beyond a mere licensing agreement; some of the add-ons on offer include ‘gold’ doubloons and custom dice for use with the TTRPG.

One of the more interesting offerings is the Buried Treasure add-on, available both as a digital-only or physical reward:

quote start 80

“Every other month for twelve months following the release of Voyage of Fortune’s Star we’ll create a treasure map and a story hook regarding how Anzolo Zorzi comes into possession of the map. Follow the map and clues in-game to discover bonus loot and additional game encounters. The physical version of this reward is a special leather scroll case (each one unique) in which we’ll ship six sheets of parchment on which you may print the map that you receive digitally.”

Obviously, these are included as a means of extending the gameplay of the cRPG, but my mind immediately flashed to the potential usage of the physical versions and story hook in the TTRPG. Simply have the PCs experience the story hook to get the map into their possession, then decide where to take the story from there. High-quality game props with associated plot hooks, in other words.

Support for this fundraiser seemed quite sluggish when it first came to my attention, about 2 weeks ago, and I had grave doubts that it would reach target. Since then, support seems to have surged, and it is now just past the 25% mark, courtesy of 991 backers, with 21 days to go. That makes success-or-failure a line-ball proposition by my rough estimates. Kicktraq is even more pessimistic, but showed no signs of the surge that I mentioned, so all hope is not lost.

If you want to back the project, or just take a look at the images that I wasn’t given permission to show you, click on this link or on the pirate flag above; you may decide it’s worth a swashbuckling stab at the heart of Fate, a quixotic gesture in defiance of the odds.

I just hope the lack of response doesn’t mean that the project has been written off as a lost cause. If no-one else, those 991 backers deserve better.

24 Hours to help Thomas Dance


Daniel Vale is organizing a sponsored 24 hour Dungeons and Dragons session to help raise money to support a young boy called Thomas with Cerebral Palsy.

The goal is to raise enough money to help him get SDR (Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy) surgery, which would greatly increase his chances of walking, running – and dancing; hence the name of the fundraising. This would cost a total of £75,000 with surgery, physiotherapy and aftercare, so he has his work cut out for him.

The stream will take place on Saturday 19th November 2016 from 12pm midday (GMT) until the following Sunday 20th November 2016 12pm midday (GMT) on a dedicated Twitch stream.

Daniel will be the GM for the entire 24 hours and has recruited players for the game, which is organized into six 4-hour blocks (give or take; as every GM knows, adventures sometimes run over-time and sometimes run short, so the planned times are a guideline only).


The schedule is:

  • Midday-4PM GMT: “The Beginning” (5th level characters)
  • 4PM-8PM GMT: “Strange Goings On…” (1st level characters)
  • 8PM-Midnight GMT: “Treasure Hunters” (10th level characters)
  • Midnight to 4AM GMT: “Finding Knowledge” (3rd level characters)
  • 4AM – 8AM GMT: “A Bad Discovery” (7th level characters)
  • 8AM-Noon GMT: “Champions of Vanderuum” (15th & 3rd level characters)

Vanderuum is the fantasy world in which these adventures all take place, complete with elves, orcs, magic, monsters and dungeons. The map is of part of that world, while the image relates to the adventure in some fashion still to be revealed.

Play can be watched live through a twitch stream. While the players will have to decide how they will solve problems, as is the case with any RPG, donations during the stream will help or hinder the players through donation rewards. There are also stretch goals up to £2500 (and possibly higher if things go well!)

Anything donated will be greatly appreciated and will help a child to gain more independence. If you can’t donate then you can help the campaign by raising awareness and hopefully attracting others who can, and who would not be in “virtual attendance” to do so without your publicity. So tweet, share, and promote the event to as many people as you can!


The twitter account for the fundraiser is or click on the image to the left (which is a variation of the actual profile avatar – I added the twitter bird). Follow and RT it, especially as the day draws closer.

The twitch stream is or click on the image below (another one that I’ve manipulated to provide a visual mnemonic by adding a variation on the twitch logo).


You can also donate directly in advance at via the TreeOfLife charity at JustGiving.

RA Whipple Relocation fund


Richard “R. A.” Whipple is a 49-year-old Canadian ex-gamer and writer living isolated in Poland. He and his family are in dire need of assistance. They have no family; no government; and no employer Support.

Before he and his wife decided he would attempt to write, R.A. had been seeking a job for 15 years without success. He has tried everything, even volunteering without payment in hopes of earning a paid position, without success.

Stress and poor living led to untreatable diabetes, a nervous breakdown and severe clinical depression.

His wife, Aneta, is a veteran marketer with Toyota but has not had a single raise in her salary during the 18 years she has been with the firm, and has had no serious job offers despite seeking new employment.

They have worked like slaves and survived unimaginable stress; cannot earn enough to eat regularly or clothe themselves. Unable to afford rent, they are lucky to live in a small one-room apartment where black mold grows on the walls.

The only connection the Canadian government wants with its expatriates (Canadians living abroad) is to collect income tax. They cannot vote, cannot simply ask for a list of Canadians in our host country to meet or with whom to do business, and they cannot present themselves, penniless, and ask to be deported back home.

Expatriates can buy government documents for themselves and their children, and applications for immigration for their wives, but are granted no special status from the government.

R.A. could return to Canada alone, breaking up his family, but he has no reason to have any confidence that doing so would enhance their chances of survival or that he would ever have any prospect of being reunited with them; his chances of ever meeting the requirements to sponsor his family would be nil.


In desperation, he has turned to writing as a way of earning his way out, and has even had some limited interest in seeing the manuscript from a small publisher. No advance money, but enough encouragement to keep going. But even this is fraught with difficulty.

You or I can do research just by hopping on the internet. R.A. Can barely manage to get onto Twitter. There is no convenient English library at hand, and research materials might was well be made of solid gold, they would be no more inaccessible locked in a treasure vault.

Part of the problem is that his full story reads like a scam. While those work by playing on people’s credulity and appealing to their emotions, and people are rightly hostile toward them, their are nuggets of reality embedded in such stories because that is how the scammers get people to care enough to pledge their wealth. R.A. is not a scammer, he is one of those unfortunates whose stories the scammers imitate.

R.A. and his family have been trapped by circumstances that none of them anticipated, and with which they have struggled alone for far too long.

How you can help

His few friends and contacts have done what they can, including organizing a fundraising campaign on Richard’s behalf. A small portion of the target would be enough to enable Richard to buy the reference materials that he needs to continue writing in hopes of bootstrapping himself out of difficulty.

A slightly larger portion would enable a more modern computer, some new clothing, and some decent food for a period of time. Should one or more angels intervene and the full target of $34,000 be achieved, it would fund all the necessary paperwork and airfares for the family to emigrate to Canada; provide food, lodging, and fund an intensive job-search for a month; and at least give them hope for the future.

Richard is now growing desperate, and beginning to despair. To date, the fundraising campaign has managed to raise only US$800, and while he is extremely grateful for the assistance and generosity that he has received, he also knows that it is not enough.

I harbor no illusions that the readership of Campaign Mastery can provide the entirety of the funds needed. That would take about US$2.50 from every visitor the site receives in the course of a month – and some don’t have even that to spare. But if everyone who reads this appeal could pledge a dollar or two, and get two or three others to do likewise, it could be easily achieved.

One less soft drink the next time you sit down to game, and persuading the others in the group to do likewise, would be a solid start – 600 GMs, 4 players each (average), about $1.50 each, adds up to $4,500. Think about that for a moment. Id we could all do that eight times between now and Christmas, we could give R.A. the best possible Christmas present: a new start.

If you can help, even just a little, please pledge something to Richard’s relocation fundraising campaign by clicking on this link or on the photograph of Richard and his daughter above.

Comments (3)

Essential Reference Library for Pulp GMs (and others): 3rd Shelf


The Third Shelf: More-Ordinary Places

We struggled a little in trying to find a good summary for this shelf’s contents, the first of two dealing with locations and geography.

Locations are important to any RPG – that’s why Campaign Mastery devoted an entire Blog Carnival to the subject a while back (you can read summaries of the submissions here, many of which are as relevant to pulp as to any other genre.

But that’s even more true of Pulp than most genres of game, because more than most, Pulp celebrates the exotic diversity of the reality around us all. Like characters, locations need to be both grounded in reality and at the same time, more vivid and compelling than even the reality.

The GM has two primary tools at his disposal for achieving this vividness. The first is the sensory content that he conveys – the sights, smells, and sounds that distinguish one location from another. The other is the people and the cultures that they represent, and to a certain extent, this also defines content to be conveyed by the first.

Before you can choose what to depict, and what to emphasize and even what to exaggerate, you need to be aware of the reality. If you can identify a specific location, Wikipedia is a wonderful source of specifics; but to get to that point, it is necessary to have a broad overview of everywhere, enabling you to locate where to look for that specific location.

We use these references to select locations in general, then Google Maps to locate specific options that we research using Wikipedia for specifics.

Of course, these locations are only “ordinary” on the surface. Scratch too deeply in any of them – in a pulp reality – and strangeness should seep out. Strange things in the sewers, villains improbably lurking in the shadows, and schemers around every corner.

But this is where all that starts.

Relevance to other genres

The more exotic the genre, the more you need little touches of ‘normality’ to connect the players’ experience with the world their characters are experiencing.

The City of Brass is, first and foremost, a city. The fact that it is located in an extremely exotic location – the Elemental Plane of Fire – recast in the latest edition of D&D, along with the other inner planes, as The Elemental Chaos – simply means that some elements of the city need to be more recognizable.

The simplest solution is to start with somewhere recognizable and change whatever is made irrelevant or inappropriate by the exotic locale. You could do worse than to model it – and its localities and citizens – on New York City.

Another example: a space station orbiting Rigel-VII, a hub of trade and commerce. Four areas: a corporate sector modeled on a skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles; a retail sector, based on a sprawling shopping mall in Hawaii or Tahiti, full of stalls and vendors and hawkers instead of shop-fronts; a residential sector, inspired perhaps by an inner-city backpackers’ hotel in Amsterdam; and the underbelly, modeled on the back alleys of Brooklyn. Or Detroit. Or Pittsburgh. Or Hell’s Kitchen.

Real places. Real flavor. A doorway into the things that make this place unique.

You need the ordinary to lend contrast to the extraordinary. And the best source of the ordinary is the real world. The places described by the contents of this shelf (and some of the next) should be your foundations.

maritime officer's effects

Shelf Introduction

This shelf has six sections, most of them reasonably self-explanatory (but We’ll comment on them anyway). The unifying thread is that these places are – were – well known, well explored (to varying extents).

General contains books that deal with a variety of locations within a single volume, and some overall references.

Exploration The great ages of exploration may lie in the past, but much of that past is only being discovered in the pulp era. Additionally, there were a few books that didn’t quite fit anywhere else that found a home in this section.

The USA The US became a dominant world power in the course of the first World War. There is nowhere more iconically connected with the pulp Genre. This is the hub around which most pulp adventures will revolve. Many adventures will take place entirely within its borders, and more will start and/or finish there. Unsurprisingly, we focused quite a lot of attention on it.

Europe Europe is full of places that make great settings for pulp adventures, be that the Parisian Cafes, the Streets of London, the Castles of Austria, Rome, the Vatican, Eastern Europe (Transylvania is part of Romania these days), behind the Iron Curtain (which has not yet fully descended), the ruins of Greece, the waterways of Venice, or – of course – Nazi Germany. Then, too, there’s Scandinavia, and Sicily, and the windmills of Holland, and… For all that, you will find surprisingly few books in this section, because most of them were better suited to other places within the list.

The first thing that you will probably notice as you cast your eye over the list above is that an awful lot of the world seems to be missing from the list.

Where’s the rest of Africa? The Middle East? What’s happened to South America? Where are the Islands of the Pacific? The Caribbean? What of Antarctica? Central America? Canada?

Although these places may be well-known today, we felt that they were – or contained large areas which were – sufficiently strange and mysterious to the residents of the Pulp Era that they belonged in the second shelf on places – especially when infused with their probable Pulp genre interpretations.

So if your home has yet to appear on the list, remember – so has ours! That’s for next time.

A Recurring Note On Images:

Wherever possible, we have provided a cover illustration. Where none was available, we’ve used a generic icon. Regardless of the physical dimensions of the item, all have been set to the same vertical size (320 pixels for Recommended Books, 280 for DVDs, 250 for items in the ‘For Dummies’ Section).


The term “General” is a bit vague. This section includes books that covered a variety of areas and other items that were too broad or vague to place elsewhere, which was always our first preference.

Prices and Availability were correct at the time of compilation.

General Books



074. The Encyclopedia Of World Geography – Edited by Graham Bateman & Victoria Egan

Many factual details about places (economics, politics, structure of government, etc) in a format that makes for easy comparisons. Some editions refer to Bateman as the author. We use the 2001 edition, but there aren’t any copies of that left.

2008 Edition (Hardcover):

2004 Edition (Paperback):

2002 Edition (Hardcover):



075. The Writer’s Guide To Places – Don Prues & Jack Heffron

An invaluable starting point to places in which set adventures. Specific to Canada & the US, it might seem too modern but the historical context provided makes it useful nevertheless.


076. Thrilling Locations – Kern & Moore – James Bond 007 RPG Game supplement (Victory Games)

Some of the locations are modern but several can be “reinterpreted” for use in the Pulp Era and that appear nowhere else. There are very limited cheap copies remaining, so much so that we almost excluded this.


077. Any period atlas (if you can find one) – in any language

Simply being able to see the major roads, rail links, relative city/town sizes, and borders pre-WWII / post WWI is a major asset. You can always get more information on a location by cross-referencing with a modern atlas and Wikipedia, this tool helps you choose locations and interpret what the modern tools are telling you. The best we have been able to find is from 1977, but includes maps from the 1930s. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough copies to provide a link.

You can try searching Amazon for yourself, but there are a couple of traps to look out for. We searched for “193x world atlas”, replacing the ‘x’ with 0,1,2, and so on. This produces a search result like the one shown below.


If you look closely at the search results – for example, the one to the left – you will notice that it shows a publication date of 1934 (circled in red), and the availability looks fine. 25 copies at prices starting at 31 cents (circled in blue)? Bargain, put it in the list!

But here’s the trap: if you click on the link next to the date (the one that reads “world atlas”, you will indeed find that you are being offered a 1934 world atlas from Rand McNally. Amazon have just one copy – the one shown as costing $7 – and that is through a third-party vendor. If you click on any other link in the search result panel, you will be taken to a page that lists the items on offer – but If you then click on “return to product information”, you will discover that you are being told about a completely different edition, raising the possibility that the 25 offers are the sum result of all available editions, not the 1934 version specifically.

Since we couldn’t be sure, and the date of publication is really relevant to the desired product, we weren’t confident enough to recommend any of them.

There are 1930s world atlases for sale through Amazon – a handful or less for any given year at the moment. But not enough of any of them for a safe recommendation within our guidelines.

That said, if you want to take a chance on the Rand McNally Used And New listing, here’s the direct link: and here’s another to the 1934 Pictorial Atlas from Rand McNally that got our hopes up due to its price and availability:

078. Travel Guides – any travel guides to anywhere, the more out-of-date the better.

We watch for these like a hawk at any garage sales we pass. Information on the best restaurants & what they serve, the best hotels, the popular tourist attractions, the local habits, celebrations, and society – some of it’s directly relevant, some needs translation back in time, and some can be left in the dreams of ambitious locals.

We have linked to a number of (modern) travel guides in the Europe section for lack of anything more period being both available and affordable, on the presumption that most of our readers are North American and have an excellent chance of finding old US travel guides (usually for an individual state or city) far more easily than we can search out modern ones. However, we have found a couple of period US items and those are listed in the appropriate section.


079. Geography Of The World – DK Publishing

Full color photographs and art on almost every page is designed to be a “user-friendly” reference guide to the terrains, nations, and cultures of the world. You will need to translate locations back to those of the 1930s, but even so, this can be an extremely useful resource.


080. Prisoners Of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About The World – Tim Marshall

We haven’t read this book, which is Amazon’s current #1 new release in the section of Historical Geography. While this is focused on the current geopolitical situations, those situations have their roots in national imperatives, cultural conflicts, and the past histories of the participants. You may have to work a little harder to apply this to the pulp world, but the starting points are here.

General Documentaries

Prices and Availability were correct at the time of compilation. We have not applied the availability criteria with the same rigor to Documentaries.

Unless it was somehow noteworthy, we have neither looked for, nor linked to, Blue-ray versions. Unless otherwise noted, a straightforward copy-and-paste of the title should reveal such if those are your preference.


081. Cities of the Underworld (Seasons 1 & 2)

Season 1:
Although there may be value in other episodes, we’re recommending season one of this series for two specific episodes: #7 “New York” and #11 “Bucharest, Romania”. The series explores what is underneath cities both ancient and modern. There are very few copies available through Amazon USA and those few are ridiculously expensive unless you buy from a third party (only 10 copies available at the time of writing). Prices aren’t much better through Amazon UK, and are even worse through Amazon Canada. In fact, prices are so over the top that we aren’t even going to bother linking to those pages. Some of these vendors also list individual episodes on DVD from the History Channel, but these cost as much as a reasonable price for a full season in mint condition.

Season 2:
Three episodes alone form the basis of this recommendation and anything else you can take from it is a bonus. The episodes are #9, #10, and #11 within the season respectively: “New York: Secret Societies”, “Washington DC: Seat Of Power” and “Stalin’s Secret Lair”. The series explores what is underneath cities both ancient and modern. There are very few copies available through Amazon USA and those few are ridiculously expensive unless you buy from a third party. Prices aren’t much better through Amazon UK, and are even worse through Amazon Canada. In fact, prices are so over the top that we aren’t even going to bother linking to those pages. Some of these vendors also list individual episodes on DVD from the History Channel, but these cost as much as a reasonable price for a full season in mint condition. However, there is also the option with seasons 2 and 3 to buy individual episodes or even entire seasons at quite reasonable prices through Amazon streaming video There is also a third season that we have not yet seen, parts of which sound promising.


082. Megacities (Season 2005, Episode 3: Paris and Episode 4: New York)

So far as we were able to determine, these episodes of the National Geographic documentary series have either never been collected on DVD or are no longer available anywhere.

The Paris episode can be viewed on YouTube

and so can the New York episode

General ‘For Dummies’ Books

In most cases, we haven’t read any of these, and are recommending them for consideration based purely upon the publisher’s descriptions and on general principles except where otherwise noted. This also shifts the content of each review from one of “this book is recommended and here’s why” to “this book might be useful and here’s why”. We have made the assumption that availability and price would fall within our parameters, or close enough to them; we have rarely found this not to be the case.

Selected works were so promising and so relevant, that they have been promoted to the main list of recommendations, excluding them from the above caveats.

Some notes about Complete Idiot’s Guides

While the “For Dummies” series has a website that lists all the books currently available in the series, there is no equivalent for the “Complete Idiot’s Guides”.

Our blanket advice is that if Amazon lists a “Complete Idiot’s Guide” that matches the subject of one of our “For Dummies” recommendations, you should buy both.


083. Geography For Dummies – Charles A Heatwole Ph. D

Geography as a subject can be a little hard to define. Essentially, it’s the study of where people live and how where they live affects their society, and vice-versa. Nothing in that definition that might be of value to the pulp GM, is there? This is the sort of subject that Wikipedia is great for – when you want to get into specific details (this society, that terrain, etc); where it falls down as a resource is in providing a foundational overview. Well, to be honest, it’s there, but relatively hard to find and sometimes spotty because important information has been moved to a specific-subject page, leaving a hole in the broader coverage. That’s where we hope this book will come into the picture.

Oh, and remember our general advice? Mike happened to spot The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Geography by Thomas E. Sherer Jr., Thom Werthman, and Joseph Gonzales while gathering the link above:


084. Geology For Dummies – Alecia M. Spooner

The study of the minerals and mineral structures that make up the earth. This is a far more important and useful subject than many people realize; for example, if you look at the island of Manhattan, there are two clusters of very tall skyscrapers, one in midtown and one downtown. That’s because the rocky foundations there are strong enough to support such tall buildings – elsewhere on the island, they aren’t, not without impractically-deep foundations. And then of course there is the subject of mineral wealth as a motive or tool, which can be absolutely critical as shown in Lightning Research: Maximum Answers in Minimum Time. So this is definitely something worth knowing something about.



Books about Exploration



085. Fortune & Glory – Douglas Palmer, Nicholas James, & Giles Sparrow

“Tales of histories greatest archaeological adventurers”? Say no more! Not to be confused with another book on our list also named “Fortune & Glory”.


086. Strange Maps – An Atlas Of Cartographic Curiosities – Frank Jacobs

A list of places that have been imagined or that almost came into existence. You can either use the maps for an alternate world or simply use the historical reference of how something almost happened in real life to build interesting circumstances and backstory into your world. And there can always be radicals who still want to achieve “X”…


087. Horizon Fever: Explorer A E Filby’s own account of his extraordinary expedition through Africa, 1931 – 1935 (Volume 1): A.E. Filby with commentary by Victoria Tweed

Filby was a British explorer known as “The world’s most traveled motorist” who undertook many expeditions including (most famously) the 37,000 mile journey from London to Cape Town in a series of dilapidated motorcars. Published posthumously, this is not only a snapshot of the attitudes and opinions of the era, but a great source of pulp encounters and color. Within its pages lie missionaries, big-game hunters, pygmies, gold mining, the Sahara, and swimming in the Nile with Crocodiles. Although the title describes this as Volume 1 and was published in 2012, there is no sign yet of a volume 2.


088. An Inquisitive Eye: Travels of an American Lady in the British Empire of the 1930s – Robert N. White

Sybil Hall Nowell set off in 1935 on a round-the-world journey that lasted for four months and was documented through numerous and regular letters back to her family. Those letters, compiled and accompanied by historical and political context, are now contained within this book, which almost did not make the cut; there are too few copies within our availability bracket. Because it’s so relevant, especially to an American reader, we decided to make an exception.



Books About American Places



089. How The States Got Their Shapes – Mark Stein

The sometimes unlikely and completely fascinating stories of how the states in the modern-day USA came to have their geographic boundaries.



090. Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made It – Michael J. Trinklein

US states that didn’t last, but that might have done so in a pulp world, great for added color.


091. Call Of Cthulhu 1920s sourcebooks (Chaosium):

These sourcebooks are pretty self-explanatory, and too specific to be relegated to the Game Supplements section.

Secrets Of New York


092. Secrets Of New Orleans


093. Secrets of Los Angeles


094. Secrets of San Francisco

(One wonders how this might have been extended had Mythbusters been airing when the supplement was in preparation…)


095. Call Of Cthulhu Sourcebook: Miskatonic University – Sam Johnson (Chaosium)


096. The Historical Atlas of New York City: A visual celebration of 400 years of New York’s History – Eric Homberger, with illustrations by Alice Hudson, curator of the map division of the New York Public Library

Provides a good introduction to, and overview of, the political, economic, social, and cultural history of New York City, but as some reviewers have noted, the content can be disjointed. The content is divided by time period and includes numerous maps, photos and drawings of the buildings and landscape at that time in history, but quite often the beginning or end of a particular story is not included. Contains information that can’t be found anywhere else. There are some flaws, however: editorial mistakes such as a photograph that has been reversed and a number of spelling and grammatical errors, and the text is often simplistic and limited to what might be found in a photographic caption. As a starting point for further research, as a visual aide, and as a means of getting into the city as it was in the pulp era (or earlier in history) it’s excellent – but it is not a complete reference; expect to spend time researching more detailed information on the net.


097. A Goodfellas Guide To New York: Your Personal Tour through the Mob’s notorious haunts, hair-raising crime scenes, and infamous hot spots – Henry Hill

Locations and descriptions of famous gangland activities in the New York City region. Even if many of them occur outside the pulp “window”, this is still a valuable reference by a mobster about mobsters and their haunts.


098. New York in the Thirties – Elizabeth McCausland and photographs by Berenice Abbott

Since we can’t recommend “New York in the 1930s” by Samuel Fuller (you’ll find it in the ‘Honorable Mentions” section), we are listing this book instead. Only 1/3 the page count, and with a similar fraction of the imagery, but this has more text to explain what you are looking at – though it says something that the photographer’s name is on the front cover and not that of the author. At least it has the great virtue of being affordable and well-supplied within the criteria used for this series. What’s more, there is a Kindle edition.


099. The WPA Guide to New York City: The Federal Writer’s Project Guide to 1930s New York – Federal Writer’s Project

This was originally published in 1939, when it was designed to introduce the city to attendees of the World’s Fair. Reissued in 1995, this is a time capsule of the way things were then, and deliberately written to tell a stranger in town what he needed to know about the place. Eighty-six years later, we are all strangers in town as far as the world of the 1930s is concerned! Copies start very cheap at just US$0.48. Yes, you read that correctly. There are many others in this series, often focused on particular states, two of which we have included below.


100. San Francisco in the 1930s: The WPA Guide to the City by the Bay – Federal Writers Project

There are few cities that have changed in character as much as San Francisco. In the 1930s, there was no Golden Gate Bridge, there was no Pyramid-shaped Transamerica Building, in fact, there were no landmarks or icons of any kind by which the city could be recognized. That makes it a solid basis for many other cities of the period – just add a point of distinction and stir well. This book is nowhere near as affordable as the WPA Guide to New York City, but is likely to be just as useful.


101. The WPA Guide to Washington DC – Federal Writer’s Project

This book contains over 550 pages of 1930s detail of what some consider the most important city in America (New York might dispute the claim). Washington, in a lot of ways, hasn’t changed that much since then – but some landmarks have become a lot harder to find, and current politics and the intervening history cloud over a full appreciation of the world of then. This quite affordable book cuts through the political fog; Mike certainly wishes that he and Blair had it when they were working on their epic political-struggle adventure for the Adventurer’s Club campaign, “Five Star”.


102. Legend Tripping The Ultimate Adventure – Robert C. Robinson

A late inclusion to the list is this book, which tells the reader how to go exploring myths, legends, and history for themselves. What you will need to go hunting for Bigfoot, and where, for example. Or UFOs. Or Treasure-hunting. Or… well, you get the idea. Available in softcover or Kindle editions.


103. Detroit: 1930-1969 – David Lee Poremba

What is now known as the Motor City was arguably hit by the Great Depression deeper and harder than most major settlements. It was the middle of the 1930s before the earnest efforts of the Federal and local governments began to lead to renewed prosperity on the back of the automobile industry, becoming one of the dominant industrial heartlands of America just in time to meet the call when Japan attacked at Pearl Harbor, ending the Pulp period. At best, one third of this book is pulp-relevant, but that third is so relevant that we’ll let it slide – this time. Available in paperback and Kindle formats.

Documentaries About American Places



104. How The Earth Was Made: The Geology Of New York City (season 1, episode 5)

This entire series is absolutely brilliant, but only one episode struck us as directly relevant to the Pulp GM, and that’s the episode listed, which explains the geology of different features within the region of New York City and how that geology has shaped the society that dwells there and the city that they have built.

USA: Season 1 DVD box set available at very reasonable prices – Season 1 Blu-Ray is also available at equally-reasonable prices

UK: A limited supply of the Season 1 DVD box set is available at ridiculously cheap prices, and some more here, and still more here

If those run out, you can also get a boxed set of the complete first AND second season in one bundle – also in very limited supply Blu-ray copies are also available: Season 1 sets and Season 1/Season 2 double sets Several of these are free of regional encoding, and hence will play on any appropriate player anywhere in the world.

Canada: Limited Quantities and prices that are triple what the US pays, as usual. Season 1 DVD Set, Season 1 BluRay Set, and the Seasons 1 & 2 combined set (Blu-Ray only)


105. Strip the City – Season 2, episode 1: “Superstorm City (New York)”

The geographic position of New York funnels deadly storms into the city, an effect that has had a profound influence on the infrastructure and development of the city. You can’t fully understand this iconic location without watching this 43 minutes of televised documentary. Unfortunately, it’s just not available in most markets – for the time being at least, you can get it through Amazon US’ streaming Video service in HD for US$2.99 but everyone else misses out – while some episodes of the series are available through YouTube, this isn’t one of them. Which caused some debate about whether or not to recommend it. What ultimately settled the debate was finding an aggregating-link service that provided 14 sources for viewing the episode online or downloading it anywhere in the world. While this may be a third-best option with no guarantees of quality (or information about prices), it’s definitely better than nothing.



Books about European Places



106. Cthulhu Britannica – Bligh, Birch, French, Fricker, & Mason

British-based scenarios – the characters, maps, etc are useful even if the Adventures don’t quite fit.


107. Stalin: The Court of The Red Tsar – Simon Sebag Montifiore

Not recommended as a bio of Stalin as much as it is for color and other figures within Russia in the Pulp Period. For example, Stalin’s secret police chief Lavrenti Beria “craved athletic women, haunting the locker rooms of Soviet swimmers and basketball players.” There’s also much detail about the food at parties and other meetings of Stalin’s henchmen. This is the sort of color and reference that is gold for the GM considering contact between the Soviet administration and the PCs of any sort, and that is almost impossible to dig out.

Due to an error – an overlooked reminder – remaining links in this books section have not undergone the full vetting process that other parts of this series have experienced. As a result, we have erred on the side of generosity, on the basis that it’s better to list too many resources than it is leave something out that might qualify as an Essential. It also means that this post is late, and much larger than normal.


108. The Discovery Of France: A Historical Geography – Graham Robb

Even while Gustav Eiffel was changing the Paris skyline forever, large parts of France were provincial backwaters, both joined and divided by ancient tribal divisions, prehistoric communications, and pre-Christian beliefs. In much of the country, French itself was a minority language. By the time of the Pulp Era, all this had changed – at least superficially – but even today, looking beneath the surface of a French Division or province reveals commonalities, old rivalries, and points of distinction. Available in both paperback and Kindle editions.


109. The 500 Hidden Secrets of Paris – Marie Farman

Written by a native Parisian, this is the Paris the locals know (and the tourists don’t) – the best vintage markets, the best concert venues, a restaurant where you can get a meal at 3:30 AM and many more pieces of local color, many of which can be instantly transported into the Pulp era.


110. The Rough Guide to England – Rough Guides

At 726 pages, this book makes solid claim to being the definitive insider’s travel guide to England, covering history, culture, heritage, and regional highlights. Unfortunately, it’s a guide to Modern England, a nation that has changed dramatically since the Pulp era, so utility might be limited. Some things won’t have changed – when it tells you that a pub has been in operation since 18-hundred-and-something (and England has several of those), it’s a sure bet that it was there in the Pulp Era, too. So there is still value to be found by the astute GM.


111. England’s Hideaways: Discovering Enchanting Rooms, Stately Manor Houses, and Country Cottages – Meg Nolan Van Reesema with photographs by Tim Clinch

This book only just sneaks in under our price cap at $19.75 for a used copy. Like the previous book listed, this one is of limited utility from a Pulp perspective, but only because there’s a lot more to England than its’ stately manor-houses! It’s the inclusion of interiors, which are often absent from a lot of these books, that persuaded us to list it.


112. Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behavior – Kate Fox

The English are full of quirks, odd habits, and strange foibles, governed by a complex set of unspoken rules and a code of conduct that many find Bizarre – to say the least. “The rules of weather-speak, the ironic-gnome rule, the reflex apology rule, the paranoid-pantomime rule, class anxiety tests, and the money-talk taboo” are just the beginning. Many of these traits were in full bloom prior to the Second World War; some have even been exported to other countries within the Commonwealth, there to undergo strange metamorphoses or even complete inversions – the legendary friendliness of Canadians, the larrakin humor and casual fatalism of Australians, and many more cultural traits can all be traced back to “Mother England”. This book was a massive bestseller in England itself.

We’ve linked firstly to the older edition because the price is right (and there is also a Kindle version available) but there is also a newer edition – which has somehow shed 212 pages from the 440-page original, which we find archly suspicious; the cover explains the discrepancy by labeling the book ‘Updated’ with ‘New research and over 100 revisions’. It also costs a great deal more.


113. Secret London – an Unusual Guide – Rachel Howard and Bill Nash

Like every great city, London has it’s oddities and strange attractions. Written as a travel guide for those willing to step a little off the beaten track, this book contains lots of peculiarly English locations of the stranger kind for PCs to visit.


114. London Then and Now – Diane Burstein

Half the attraction of this book for most customers would be the comparisons of the way things were with the way they are now, as archival photographs are contrasted with modern images of the same locations. With most locations, there would be a great expectation that the “old” images would be from too far back for pulp purposes, but London was changed so radically by World War II – everything from preparing for invasion to the Blitz – that we think a fair number of these will still be relevant. We haven’t actually read the book to be certain, though, so make up your own mind whether or not it’s worth the price. The paperback editions ($28-30) are ridiculously expensive in comparison to the hardcovers (1 cent used, 16.85 new) so buy the more durable edition if you buy at all.


115. The London Book: Highlights of a Fascinating City – Monaco Books

Another book that only just comes in under our price cap, with second hand copies costing just over the $20 limit but new copies starting at $18.41. This is a book of photographs and accompanying text of factoids and history which “brings to life the city’s past and present”. According to Amazon, it features over 300 images, engaging text, and page after page of visual delights … from the splendor of the royal palaces and historic cathedrals to the lush green parks (plenty of rain!) vibrant markets, and world-famous shops. As usual, some of this will be unchanged from pre-war times and some will not.


116. Ireland: A visual journey around the Counties Of Ireland – Peter Zoeller and Michael Diggin

300 contemporary images of the natural beauty of Ireland covering all 32 Counties by two of the country’s leading landscape photographers.


117. 101 Things You Didn’t Know About Irish History: The People, Places, Culture, and Tradition of the Emerald Isle – Ryan Hackney, Amy Hackney Blackwell, and Garland Kimmer

“Forget about shamrocks, leprechauns, and all that blarney; 101 Things You Didn’t Know about Irish History dispels the myths and tells the true story of the Irish,” touts Amazon. Which sounds like a good reason to at least consider buying it, in this context. Paperback and Kindle.


118. Scotland – Nigel Blundell

Like many books in the travel arena that aren’t all-too-modern travel guides, this is a lot of high-quality photographs with some accompanying text. What puts this book a step ahead of its rivals is the inclusion of a chronological listing showing all the major historical events of Scotland.


119. Hidden Scotland: Scotland’s Hidden Past – Ann Lindsay

This is a difficult book to review because it won’t be released until October 1st! But the Amazon blurb was too enticing to resist – the first elephant to visit Scotland got stuck in a pub in Renfrewshire? Curious Places, Bizarre Happenings, Perplexing Oddities, some verifiable fact and some shrouded in mystery and myth – and it includes detailed instructions on how to get to all the places mentioned. Sure, there will have been developments in that respect since the Pulp era – but why let that stop you?


120. Austria (Enchantment of the World) – R Conrad Stein

Despite what Amazon’s entry for this book states, there is only one Author of this book! New copies sell for $59, so used copies for one cent have to be considered a bargain! Let’s be upfront about this: it’s a children’s book, for ages 10 and up. Part of a major series, it examines “climate and geography; plants and animals; history; government; economy; people and languages; religion; spiritual life; mythology; culture; the arts and sports; daily life and more”, all “highlighted by breathtaking color photographs and numerous original maps” that show “population distribution, natural resources, topographic features and historical landmarks” – and there’s still more of use in this book, and each of those in this series. All that useful info in one place? Who cares if it’s a children’s book – under those circumstances?


121. Fascinating Austria – Michael Kuhler with photographs by Martin Siepmann

Whenever a book lists the photographer as one of the authors, you have a fair idea of what to expect: Images and a little contextual text, with the occasional factoid. The description, which states “Majestic peaks, deep valleys, crystal-clear lakes, and lush green meadows are captured in detail” leaves no doubts – and that’s before it mentions the Danube, which is one of the main feature subjects of the book. And at only 96 pages, this is a relatively thin volume compared to many of the others that we’ve listed. So it was listed with some hesitation. What tipped the balance was the solitary customer review, which states that a copy was given as a gift to someone who “loves Austria” and who presumably has, therefore, other books on the subject to compare it to – and who loved this one. In the absence of personal experience with the book, that’s a recommendation that’s hard to ignore.


122. Austria: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture – Peter Gieler

This book sounds promising, offering a window into the society of a nation that was once half of the massively-significant Austro-Hungarian Empire. Not having read it, we can’t really say more without quoting the entire Amazon blurb, which suggests that the syntax of the writing can be a little hard to decipher and even harder to extract from. All we can do is put the book on readers’ radars; the decision to purchase is up to you.


123. Journey Through Vienna – Dodo Kresse with photographs by Janos Kalmar

Focuses largely on the architecture of Vienna – “museums of world-wide fame, and architectural styles from Gothic and Jugendstil to contemporary buildings” – but “the music and art of the Viennese way of life are explored” as well. The more you look past that obvious focus, the more value you find in this book for any GM who intends for his PCs to visit what was one of the leading intellectual centers of Europe for a time.


124. Only In Vienna: A Guide to Unique Locations, Hidden Corners and Unusual Objects – Duncan J. D. Smith (“Only In” Guides)

A “comprehensive illustrated guide to more than 80 fascinating and unusual historical sites” including “hidden courtyards, mysterious cellars, little-known museums and forgotten cemeteries…” does it get much more pulp-ready?


125. The World of Yesterday – Stefan Zweig, translated by Anthea Bell

This is Zweig’s autobiography, let’s be up-front about that. To be honest, it was the review excerpt from Publisher’s Weekly that sold us on including it, and in this section specifically: “a chronicle of three ages: the golden days of Vienna that ended with World War I; that war and its aftermath; and the Hitler years. Three ages do come to life in Zweig’s book.” And just happen to bracket the entire Pulp period, inclusively.


126. Eastern Europe in the Twentieth Century – And After (2nd Edition) R.J. Crampton

The history of all the key Eastern European states up to the collapse of Communism, the consequences of that collapse for the region, and considers what the future could hold for them. Discusses each of the states individually rather than taking an overly-broad perspective. 552 pages and quite possibly on the dry side, an impression backed up by reader reviews, which describe it as “Comprehensive, detailed, and scholarly”, “methodically organized”. Several readers suggest that the book is excellent on details but lacking in its ability to convey the big picture. In other words, this would be useful once you knew which country you wanted to look into in detail, but not so helpful in making that selection in the first place.


127. Ethnic Politics in Eastern Europe: A Guide to Nationality Policies, Organizations and Parties (2nd Edition) – Janusz Bugajski

Considers the big-picture of Eastern Europe’s present and future by spitting it into three regions: Part 1 – post-Yugoslavia, with individual chapters devoted to the six new countries that have emerged; Part 2 – the Balkans (Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania); and Part 3 – the (somewhat) more stable countries of Central Europe (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary). Why is this book being listed here? Because the collapse of communism “stimulated the resurgence of strong ethnic and nationalist movements in each of the 13 nations covered in this volume,” as Library Journal put it in reviewing the book. Each nation gets 20-40 pages that includes everything from history, statistics, ethnic policies and both majority and the minority ethnic groups subject to those policies. The important point: the current situations have their roots in the pre-communist histories and societies – in, and prior to, the pulp era. Which makes this book relevant, and helps justify the preceding listing as well. At 520 pages, this isn’t far short of that book, and – if anything – seems even more focused on the scholarly appraisal of the regional geopolitics. However, the focus on ethnic politics means that other aspects of the region’s culture get relatively little attention; as a resource, both these books are less than the whole story, but each contains about 1/3 of that story, with some overlap, perhaps more (the missing part, the culture and cultural inheritance, is best served by travel guides detailing specific nations).


128. A History of The Gypsies of Eastern Europe and Russia (2nd Edition) – David M. Crowe

“An overview of the life, history, and culture of the Gypsies, or Roma, from their entrance into the region in the Middle Ages up until the present, drawing from previously untapped East European, Russian, and traditional sources.” As some of the most colorful inhabitants of the region, Gypsies are a natural for Pulp.


129. The Rough Guide to Romania – Rough Guides

We discussed the Rough Guides and what makes them appealing in an earlier entry. If you want to go beyond old Dracula movies as your source for the local culture, this is the book for you.


130. The Dictators: Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia – Richard Overy Ph. D

It’s possible to view the entire Second World War as being a clash between these two Nations, with the entire Western Campaign being about securing Germany’s flank, the Africa campaign about securing war material, and the early Eastern campaign as having the objective of opening invasion routes for the main action – the invasion of Russia itself.

Certainly western media and public opinion constantly underestimates the role of Russia in defeating Germany; the Western Allies didn’t get to Berlin until after the Russians had overrun it, which is why it was later surrounded on all sides by East Germany. Despite this, the two were more alike than different in many ways, as this detailed historical analysis makes clear.

Publisher’s Weekly note that the book requires careful reading or important nuances may be missed. At 928 pages, this is a substantial volume; expect higher-than-normal postage rates to apply. We’ve linked to the paperback because of lower prices and wider availability, but you can also choose the Kindle edition from this page, or get to the hardcover by clicking on “see all 12 formats and editions”.


131. The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia – Orlando Figes

Until you see the subtitle and read the blurb that accompanies this book, you might be forgiven for thinking it was a work of fiction. Even the cover contributes to this impression; save for an accidental mis-click, we would have missed it. The Whisperers “chronicles the private history of family life during the violent and repressive reign of Josef Stalin. Drawing on a vast collection of interviews and archives,” it “re-creates the anguish of family members turned against one another–of the paranoia, alienation, and treachery that poisoned private life in Russia for generations” (quotes from a review by The Economist, as quoted by Amazon).


132. Stalin and the Scientists: A History of Triumph and Tragedy 1905-1953 – Simon Ings

Another book that we almost missed because only the Kindle edition contains a review. “This is the story of how the Soviet Union’s scientists became both the glory and the laughing stock of the intellectual world”. The author’s own pro-Leninist ideology appears to seep through, and should be taken with a grain of salt.


133. The Commissar Vanishes: The Falsification of Photographs and Art in Stalin’s Russia – David King

The least-essential, least-useful, and perhaps, most-interesting of the books we have listed on Stalin’s Russia. New copies of this book are very expensive, but fortunately there are second-hand copies at more reasonable prices. The book examines how Stalin doctored photographs to advance his own political career and erase his victims from memory; for over 30 years, King assembled the world’s largest archive of manipulated photos from the Soviet era, the best of which are the feature subjects of the book. Sheds light on an under-reported aspect of the regime, and makes you wonder what might be happening now, in this age of Photoshopping.


134. Civil War and World War in Europe: Spain, Yugoslavia, and Greece 1936-1949 – Philip B. Minehan

A lot of people don’t realize that large parts of Europe were either at war or undergoing popular revolutions long before World War Two was actually declared, and those that do think first of Franco’s Spain (because it was central to the training of Nazi military forces), and hence directly connected to WWII. This is a comparative history of the three Civil Wars noted in the subtitle from various standpoints. New copies retail for $40, but used copies are more affordable at about a tenth that price. We’ve also gone for what Amazon describes as the “2009th edition”, which we seriously expect to a typo!

NB: There are several other books related to Greek History of the period and the period leading up to it that we wanted to list but they cost too darned much. Look for them in the Honorable Mentions, if you are passionately interested.


135. National Geographic Traveler: Greece, 4th Edition – Mike Gerrard

“Expert (travel) advice, insider tips, and the cultural feel of each destination not easily found online” – the best sights and sites in Greece, such as the Acropolis, cutaway illustrations of some of the most famous structures, detailed maps, and photographs. Broken into chapters by cities and areas, with one chapter devoted to Athens. A lot of focus on where tourists can engage in various practical and hands-on activities like wine-making, tapestry-weaving and marble sculpture workshops – and it seems likely that these would spring up in areas where they were already, or had historically been, a local activity.


136. The Rough Guide to Greece – Rough Guides

We’ve recommended a couple of Rough Guides already, and like the others, this has a very good reputation; but the description of this seems to be more oriented towards tourism and less useful to a pulp GM. Nothing we can quite put our finger on, just an overall impression. However, it does seem to have some information that our preferred choice (above) seems to lack, so it stil