Pulp Fiction Book Store Edgar Rice Burroughs, Caspak, and World War I 1

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Caspak, and World War I

The Land that Time Forgot, The People that Time Forgot and Out of Time’s Abyss by Edgar Rice Burroughs, are the three books that make up what is known as the Caspak Trilogy. Caspak is, of course, the lost continent filled with dinosaurs and cave men, that the majority of the action of the series takes place on. However the story really starts with the sinking of an ocean liner in the English Channel in 1916.

Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote and published the Caspak Trilogy in 1918 near the end of World War I which began in 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and ended with the Armistice on November 11, 1918. World War I, also known as “The Great War” resulted in an estimated sixteen million dead, both civilians and combatants. It was, at the time, the most devastating war in history. Another hundred million likely died from genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic resulting from the war.

Submarine Warfare

One of the new terrors of war which WWI ushered in, was submarine warfare. One of the central strategies of the German navy was cutting off Great Britain and the Allied war effort from American support and supply. This was done by creating shipping exclusion zones around Britain and the coast of France and enforcing them with their U-boats or submarines.

UboatBlockadeZones Edgar Rice Burroughs, Caspak, and World War I
German maritime exclusion zones 1914-1918

On May 7, 1915, a German U-boat sank the liner RMS Lusitania off the southern coast of Ireland. The sinking claimed 1,198 lives, 128 of them American civilians, and the attack of this unarmed civilian ship deeply shocked the Allies. Burroughs was hardly unaware of the sinking of the Lusitania. Indeed, it became a flashpoint that shoved the previously neutral and isolationist American public opinion, decidedly to the Allied side.

lusitania Edgar Rice Burroughs, Caspak, and World War I
‘The Sinking of the Lusitania’ – illustration of the sinking of the American passenger liner by torpedo near south west Ireland

In February, 1917 the Germans decided on a policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. Any ship that approached Britain or France would be sunk. The English Channel became a maritime graveyard.

DieSchiffsversenkungen Detail Edgar Rice Burroughs, Caspak, and World War I
Detail of German chart showing approximate locations of successful U-boat attacks/ship sinkings 1917-1918

The final outrage that brought America into World War I was the discovery that Germany had tried to enlist Mexico to go to war with the US in order to keep it too busy to make any real European effort. More information can be found on this in Barbara Tuchman’s brilliant book, The Zimmermann Telegram.

The Caspak Trilogy

But back to Burroughs and the Caspak Trilogy. It’s telling that Burroughs working title for The Land That Time Forgot was “The Lost U-Boat.” Burroughs began The Land that Time Forgot with the sinking of the liner that the protagonist Bowen J. Tyler was on, in the English Channel. It’s also telling that Burroughs sets the beginning of the tale about thirteen months after the sinking of the Lusitania, on June 3, 1916. Burroughs was drawing on the outrage that was still fresh in 1918.

Amazing2 Edgar Rice Burroughs, Caspak, and World War I

Burroughs’ description of the attack evoked the common feelings of disgust that Americans felt for Germany:

“While we were attempting to lower boats, the submarine emerged and trained guns on us. The officer in command ordered us to lower our flag, but this the captain of the liner refused to do. The ship was listing frightfully to starboard, rendering the port boats useless, while half the starboard boats had been demolished by the explosion. Even while the passengers were crowding the starboard rail and scrambling into the few boats left to us, the submarine commenced shelling the ship. I saw one shell burst in a group of women and children, and then I turned my head and covered my eyes.

Excerpt From: Edgar Rice Burroughs. “The Land That Time Forgot.”

. . .

A second shell exploded upon the deck. One of the lifeboats, frightfully overcrowded, swung at a dangerous angle from its davits. A fragment of the shell shattered the bow tackle, and I saw the women and children and the men vomited into the sea beneath, while the boat dangled stern up for a moment from its single davit, and at last with increasing momentum dived into the midst of the struggling victims screaming upon the face of the waters.”

Excerpt From: Edgar Rice Burroughs. “The Land That Time Forgot.”

Burroughs continues in several spots in the trilogy to describe German treachery, perfidy, brutality, arrogance and cruelty. The brilliance of Burroughs is that he began his tale of a lost continent, filled with dinosaurs and cave men, with the reality of a world war that was every bit as cruel as the “fang and claw” fantasy world he had imagined.

Burroughs’ Caspak Trilogy, The Land That Time Forgot can be found HERE.

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caspak Edgar Rice Burroughs, Caspak, and World War I
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Edgar Rice Burroughs, Caspak, and World War I
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Burroughs began his tale of a lost continent, filled with dinosaurs and cave men, with the reality of a world war that was every bit as cruel as the “fang and claw” fantasy world he had imagined.
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About the author: Born a long time ago, I developed a love for Pulp Fiction as a young whipper-snapper. Whether it was riding rocket ships to Mars or tracking down the cruelest of killers, I always rooted for the hero to get the girl in the end. I found that a lot of my favorite pulp fiction stories, mysteries, sci-fi and adventure had gone out of print and also into the public domain, so like any bright young enterprising lover of cattle rustlers, robot armies and insidious villains, I decided to make the universe safe for my pulp fiction heroes of yore and republish them. I have since opened up the PulpFictionBook.Store to bring some of my old friends back to light.

One comment

  1. There are some interesting points in time in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well

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