When I was twelve, Landmark Books were serious history. I read Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, or The Flying Tigers, or Great American Fighters Pilots and I was pretty damned impressed, I can tell you.
I’m still impressed. I found these books on eBay or in antique shops and I bought them to read. That’s right–I read these. They’re not just cute little nostalgia items. They mean something to me, because buried under a ton of cynical, twenty-first century garbage is some remnant of my original belief system. I’m not sure exactly what that remnant is. It might be part of a drive shaft and it might be a scrap of upholstery, but somehow, it is all that remains of what was once a shiny new 1969 Faith in the System Classic Convertible with an V-12 engine and some kind of thing called a turbo supercharger.
I thought I understood what kind of guy would sacrifice his leg to bomb Tokyo…long before “Tokyo” came to mean Hello Kitty. I thought I understood “Old Leatherface” and his crazy band of misfits who dared to challenge the Japanese Empire in China. I even assumed that I knew what the Eagle Squadron was all about, as Americans volunteered to fight the Nazis.
So now, I do find it comforting to read these books and be reminded of what I thought it was all about. Once upon a time.
4 Replies to “Landmark Books”
Did they have ‘Commando’ comics over there? Or ‘Battle Picture Library’? I used to devour those things when I was young, and obviously knew all about warfare afterwards. ‘Gott in Himmel! Englander!’
Oddly enough, despite my being a nerd’s nerd, I failed to gain any sort of attachment to comic books (doubly weird since the damned things have taken over the entertainment industry now). I believe that “comic books” were one thing that my father recognized as a “corrupter of youth” despite the fact that he was 100 years out of phase with the rest of civilization. He knew that comic books were a “bad influence.” So comics, along with anything like “Mad Magazine” were forbidden. He also outlawed Ed Roth’s “Rat Fink” character. For this reason, despite my nerdy DNA and/or acquired mindset, I feel slightly alienated from that part of nerd culture that relates to comics. The only part of the comic world that I enjoyed was a mild obsession with Heavy Metal magazine in the seventies and early eighties (but not after that–like any self-respecting geek, I only approve of items from the “golden age” and never the new stuff– I have standards!).
That is a pity. I learned many of my aircraft types, weapon types, small arms, tanks, you name it from these little comics. Since they were written an illustrated by veterans and utter war geeks, they were fairly accurate. Your father wouldn’t have approved though, as the commonwealth seemed to have done most of the fighting.
I read these in my school library as a small boy in the very early 1990s and loved them then. I’ve been hunting around for copies to get for my son.