Thursday, November 30, 2017

Paladin Press: THE LYMAN REPORT: All Good Things

Paladin Press catalog from 1975 featuring some of the early Paladin classics.

On November 29 at noon EST, Paladin Press took its last order for a book or DVD, and at the end of the year it will close its doors for good after a 47-year run as the publisher of America’s Action Library.
For almost half a century Paladin has achieved a well-deserved and hard-won reputation as a cutting-edge publisher of books that provided information on a wide range of topics that politicians, police agencies, media watchdogs, moral censors, crusading attorneys, and self-proclaimed guardians of the public have worked diligently to suppress. And sometimes they have been successful in this, but Paladin, like Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory, has endured through the decades. But, alas, all good things must come to an end, and it is time for Paladin to do so.
Paladin Press, originally named Panther Press (changed to avoid being connected with the Black Panther Party) began in the minds of Peder Classen Lund — Green Beret, private investigator, real estate investor, adventurer — and future Soldier of Fortune magazine publisher Lt. Col. Robert K. Brown in 1970. These entrepreneurs, veterans of the Vietnam War, conceived of the idea of reprinting military and CIA manuals that had been declassified by War and Defense Departments, the branches of the U.S. armed forces, and the intelligence agencies. These manuals covered such esoteric subjects as infantry combat tactics, booby traps, demolitions, flamethrowers, sniper training, guerrilla warfare, the M79 grenade launcher, fieldcraft, wilderness survival, physical training, and a host of other topics that found a market in the turbulent and divided America of the early 1970s.
Paladin proved that there was an insatiable demand for forbidden information, the stuff that was simply unavailable before the advent of the Internet, which was still decades away. From a fledgling upstart, Paladin expanded to a suite of offices with a busy shipping department that dispatched books to every corner of the earth to individuals, businesses, and governments.
New authors were discovered who dared to push the envelope. Among them was John Minnery, who wrote the notorious How to Kill, the first of a six-book illustrated series, later compiled into a single volume, detailing the exotic, bizarre, brutal, and clandestine methods for doing away with your fellow man in homicidal fashion. Even today these books are highly prized by thriller writers, true crime aficionados, and readers of offbeat materials. How to Kill was shocking, offensive, and without redeeming merit to self-styled moralists on both sides of the political spectrum, but then no one has ever complained that Paladin Press used any form of intimidation to make them purchase copies of the book.
Another legendary Paladin author was investigative journalist J. David Truby, an authority on firearm sound suppressors and black ops who authored a number of books for Paladin Press on the history, development, and improvised creation of silencers from World War I through Vietnam and the Cold War. Truby established a long and warm relationship with Paladin Press and provided the publisher with some of its early scholarly volumes and bestsellers. His most iconic book, Silencers, Snipers, and Assassins: An Overview of Whispering Death(1972), is a classic pictorial study of silencers in war and espionage and a valuable addition to any library on weaponry, assassination, and espionage.
As the Cold War intensified in the late 1970s and early 1980s, nuclear war seemed not only likely but inevitable in those pre-Gorbachev days. This was the dawn of the survivalist movement of men and women determined to survive no matter what happened on the international scene or to the fragile technological civilization on which the vast majority depended for all their basic needs. The bible for survivalists in the 1980s was Paladin’s Life After Doomsday: A Survivalist Guide to Nuclear War and Other Major Disasters (1981) by Dr. Bruce D. Clayton, the most practical and authoritative guide ever published on how to prevail and keep your family and self alive in the aftermath of a nuclear or biological conflict.
Dr. Clayton’s Life After Doomsday deserves to be on the bookshelf of every survivalist and prepared citizen, for the information it contains is as relevant today, perhaps more so, than it was in 1981, when a nuclear strike could be deterred by the fear of mutually assured destruction. An excellent companion to Life After Doomsdaywas Paladin’s Survival Guns (1977) by the legendary Mel Tappan, a survival book for which it would be impossible for me to recommend too highly.
As rates of violent crime and criminal assault exploded throughout the urban areas of the United States in the 1970s, Paladin Press rose to the forefront of publishers providing average Americans, those not living in privately policed gated communities or protected by armed bodyguards, with the means and information to look after themselves in a street confrontation. Among the first Paladin authors to explore this popular subject was William L. “Wild Bill” Cassidy, who wrote the seminal volume The Complete Book of Knife Fighting (1975) for Paladin Press. The somewhat notorious Cassidy, who has since disappeared, pioneered the personal combat and self-defense genre that would be a Paladin Press staple for decades to come.
By 1980 the American man and woman in the street was besieged with high taxes, a decade-long economic downturn, long gas lines, an intrusive bureaucracy, bad neighbors, barking dogs, unfaithful spouses, rising utility prices, and never-ending hassles at home and in the workplace. It was Paladin Press and professional trickster George Hayduke who came to the rescue with Get Even: The Complete Book of Dirty Tricks (1980). Along with fellow firebrand, M. Nelson Chunder, Hayduke turned revenge into an art form with nasty pranks and nefarious jokes that ranged from the simply annoying to the wrathful ones that would turn the target’s life upside down. While this form of humor was not for everyone, it gave countless victims the satisfaction that, in the spirit of news anchor Howard Beal in the film Network, they could get mad as hell and not have to take it anymore.
It is beyond the scope of this farewell to give credit to the hundreds of authors who made Paladin Press a successful enterprise for so many years. Among the prestigious names are the following:
  • Colonel Rex Applegate, the author of such classic works as Riot Control, Kill or Get Killed, and The Close Combat Files of Colonel Rex Applegate, among others
  • Ragnar Benson, outdoorsman/survivalist and prolific author of more than 40 Paladin classics, including Survival Poaching, Mantrapping, and The Survival Retreat
  • W.E. Fairbairn, the legendary author of Shooting to Live, Get Tough, Defendu, and numerous others reprinted by Paladin Press for a new generation of readers
  • John L. Plaster, author of Paladin’s all-time best-selling book, The Ultimate Sniper, as well as the companion videos and the History of Sniping and Sharpshooting series, including Plaster’s last book for Paladin, the recently released Sniping in the Trenches
  • John Kingsley-Heath, African safari guide and author of Hunting the Dangerous Game of Africa
  • Duncan Long, America’s favorite firearms book writer and the author of more than two dozen Paladin books on a variety of firearms, including AK 47, AR-15 Super Systems, The Mini-14, Ruger Automatic Pistol, and Homemade Ammo.
All these authors were part of the Paladin Action Library that lived up to its name in a world where adventure, self-reliance, toughness, and freedom were never out of fashion.
Paladin could never have thrived for so long without its superb editorial staff of dedicated individuals who worked with the authors, always with great patience and professionalism. This anonymous fraternity of editors, artists, and designers enhanced the work and earned the gratitude of every author. Their contribution can’t be overestimated. The loyal customers of Paladin Press products owe them a final salute of thanks.
Paladin customers over the years discovered the superb customer service and prompt shipping that Paladin provided. It was something they could always count on when dealing with Paladin Press. Here was personal service from people who genuinely cared about the customer and worked to make certain that gift arrived before Christmas or a wholesale order arrived in time to fill a bookseller’s holiday backorders. Paladin’s administrative staff was always there to answer any question, fix any mistake, and carry out those special instructions for a sometimes-demanding public. They were the unsung heroes of Paladin Press.
Last but never least, no farewell to Paladin can fail to mention its guiding light, the man who built it from a small one-man business into the global operation that it became at its height. That man, Peder Lund (1942–2017), passed away while on a trip to Russia and Finland earlier this year. There would be no Paladin without Peder Lund, whose unforgettable character and famous generosity provided the driving spirit of the company in both its best days and darkest ones. His passing will forever be mourned by the numerous employees, friends, and associates whose lives were made immeasurably better, and in some cases saved by the opportunities he offered and the jobs he created. His was a life well lived by any measure.
The office bulletin board of Paladin publisher Peder Lund, with his Vietnam Green Beret, photos and mementos, and the words “Question All Authority.”

Paladin Press has in recent years faced daunting challenges that all small publishers are facing in today’s America. Changing business models, the rise of the Jeff Bezos’ Amazon empire, the proliferation of information on the Internet, and a far smaller reading public than in the past has reduced the profit margins for Paladin Press to the point where it will not survive the passing of its founder. All good things must pass, and the time for Paladin to do so has come. It only remains to thank all the people who have done business with, written, produced, and worked for Paladin over the last 47 years. May they all find happiness and fulfillment in the future and may Paladin Press and the man behind it never be forgotten.
Ray Lyman worked for Paladin Press for more than 20 years, during which time he authored Paladin’s popular line of military history calendars. Another function he so ably filled was Paladin’s chief historian and fact checker. In the days before Google, Ray was our go-to guy on any historical, political, military, or current events question. Through this column, Ray simply resumed that role for Paladin. We thank Ray for his years of service to Paladin as shipper, historian, and friend.

Index to Paladin Press site archived pages:

Stickgrappler's Note: Posted 12/1 as of 11/30. I am guessing the Paladin's site will be shut down at the end of the year and I'm archiving select Paladin Press pages to my blog to preserve an essential part of martial arts from 1970-2017.


(This section I will not add towards November's tally as well as the header picture and video I made above... I will only use hand-drawn pictures or animated GIFs I've created towards Nov's NaNoWriMo totals):

It looks like I made my goal of 50,000 words via text and pictures towards the National Novel Writing Month/NaNoWriMo. Although I had a secondary goal of blogging everyday which I was not able to accomplish, but with NaNoWriMo, the ultimate goal was to blog regularly.

This post: 1.810
November running tally: 94,456 words
Words in excess of NaNoWriMo's 50,000:  44,456 (almost wrote 100,000 words in Nov 2017 between text and GIFs ... almost double the 50k target of NaNoWriMo!)



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Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps