Purgatory of the Conquered by Joseph L. Whatley

PURGATORY OF THE CONQUERED

"To all the true Americans—good and bad, and whatever creed or color—that I have ever known, this book is respectfully dedicated.”

--Dedication page from Purgatory of the Conquered (1956) by Joseph L. Whatley

“You, my complacent reader, won’t like this book. You won’t like it because you don’t like to have your complacency shattered, even in your fiction stories. This book is fiction in its entirety, but it could be a true story, and it will be a true story, if we continue in the present complacent, idealistic manner. Another Pearl Harbor may happen—tomorrow, next week, or next month. The enemy has been indoctrinated, and he has the capabilities of fighting this next war, a war which may destroy civilization as we know it at the present time. This is not intended as a sermon. It is a warning of things that can happen in the not-too-distant future.”

-- Prologue for Purgatory of the Conquered (1956) by Joseph L. Whatley

Believe it or not, the chastising, alarmist prologue for Purgatory of the Conquered as transcribed above seems even more ridiculous after you have read the book. Because it is only after digesting the 112 pages of this strange Soviet invasion novel that you realize its true purpose is to allow the author to vent some of his unusual ideas about marriage, religion, race, feminism and sadomasochism. The Russian take-over gimmick is just the literary vehicle for communicating these twisted thoughts. The book does, however, live up to its fiery cover description: "a novel of lust and intrigue in a Soviet-dominated America of the future."

According to the jacket copy for Purgatory of the Conquered (transcribed in full at the bottom of this review), the author, Dr. Joseph L. Whatley wrote the majority of the text while serving as a medical officer onboard a ship in the "Korean Theatre." Dr. Whatley must have had a lot of time on his hands (and perhaps keys to the ship’s medicine dispensary) to have conjured up such a wild Red scare tale. Thankfully, the book gets right to the point and spends its first fifteen pages on the mechanics of the Soviet attack and invasion that takes place in the then near future of "195_."

After the atomic bombs are strategically dropped on the U.S. by "Red bombers" in a surprise attack, Soviet tanks and supply trucks come rolling into the country via the "recently completed" Alaska Highway. We are informed that because the Soviets took out America's uranium and plutonium stockpiles and crushed the "strategic air force," there was no possibility for retaliatory attacks. Obviously, this novel was not on General Curtis LeMay's Top Ten list for 1956.
Purgatory of the Conquered by Joseph L. Whatley
In case the reader ever wondered what radio coverage of a Soviet invasion might sound like, the author throws in this passage of a clueless newscaster for good measure:

Ladies and gentlemen, the Red Army has just attacked the United States with atomic bombs. We are unable to ascertain the amount or extent of damages to our defenses at the present time, but as soon as we can, we will pass on any and all available information to you. Keep tuned to your radio station. Be calm, keep your heads, and above all, keep off the streets because of the danger of radiation. Remember, this is a dire national emergency, and we must all keep cool and collected. Our Army, Navy and Air Force are doing everything in their power to protect us from invasion. We must all try to be cooperative and helpful by obeying all instructions to the letter. All Civil Defense personnel are requested to report to their duty stations immediately, as your services are badly needed. (And now stay tuned for Jack Benny?).

What made America ripe for conquest in “195_”? The author explains in pungent detail:

Decadence had been eating away at the American mind for several decades, as maggots eat away at dead flesh. Only the maggots eating at the heart of America were a different breed of maggots—they only ate the live, healthy tissue of the American brain and heart and left the decayed flesh behind. The stench from the remaining dead and decaying flesh had been smelled all over the world. Particularly, it had been smelled by the Communists.

After the invasion is dispensed with, Purgatory of the Conquered is presented in alternating chapters in which we follow the progress of the two main characters over the course of approximately one year: “brilliant scientist” Peter Crawford, who was in Mexico treating a diarrhea epidemic at the time of the attack, and his conniving wife, Helen, who witnesses the initial attack from their luxury apartment in San Franciso (“She gasped with fear and alarm at the startling apparition before her eyes…Two or three huge white mushroom clouds”). In character-establishing scenes that take place before the atomic attack, Helen admires her "voluptuous" nude form in a mirror, berates the hired help and muses about the romantic inadequacy of her supposedly naive husband ("She recalled his last attempts to gratify her sexually, the night before he left for Mexico City. She had faked her orgasm, as she always did with him, and then could hardly contain herself, scarcely wait for his plane to depart, before she called her latest paramour.").

The Peter Crawford chapters are inherently less interesting than the Helen Crawford chapters because she is living in the land of occupation while Mexico, where Peter is for most of the novel, is ignored by the “Red hordes.” However, the author does offer some prescient text from the inner dialogue of his male protagonist that might be of some interest to the neocons out there:

… This was a second Pearl Harbor, only ten times more devastating, more horrible than the first…He thought back over the wars of America’s history, and realized that America had always been like that. They never struck the first blow, but always waited for the Pearl Harbors to happen before coming out of their lethargy…

It is in one of the first chapters devoted to Helen Crawford that we meet Colonel Boroslev, a Russian brute whom Helen visits at Soviet Headquarters (a converted hotel) in San Francisco to complain about the leers of his occupying foot soldiers in her neighborhood. Boroslev, who is described as something akin to a monster, promptly rises from his desk and smacks her across the face and out of her chair for her insolence. He then kicks her in the abdomen above her right ovary and exclaims: "Don’t ever come back here trying to bargain with me! You are in no position to bargain. You are a conquered people, and we are the masters. You are confined to quarters until I release you! Eventually, if I feel like it, I'll come by to see you, and show you the meaning of true manhood!"

Before too long the Colonel makes an unannounced appearance at Helen’s apartment and continues his sadomasochistic "seduction." He begins with a diatribe against women that is so detailed and passionate that it is hard not to think that some of the author’s own views are present in the rant (and given that Whatley went to the trouble of publishing his novel on a vanity press, perhaps they are):

“That’s the trouble with you American women. You’re all neurotics. You are spoiled. You always had everything you wanted except for the one thing you subconsciously desire most, and that is a real man to make love to you and make you happy… You stupid American women have been screaming for equality of the sexes for years. But you have never actually wanted complete equality, because that would mean that there would no longer be anything such as rape, or alimony… Women want to retain all these things that she benefits by, and yet at the same time, they expect equality with men in the business world…”

And what is the effect of Boroslev’s loathsome lecture on Helen? Perhaps not what you would expect: “The violence of his passion terrified her, yet thrilled her at the same time. She quivered all over…” After some more florid prose describing Helen’s anticipation of the Russian’s boudoir advances she lets rip with this shocker: “Hit me again!”

The morning after, the unlikely lovers have another spat when Helen suggests that the Colonel doesn't know the meaning of love to which the Colonel fires back:

"You’ve never known true love. All you know is passion; you’re a nymphomaniac, as well as a masochist. Maybe you’re right when you say that I don’t know the meaning of true love. But I have known hate, however, and love and hate are almost synonymous. Just as sadism and masochism are almost synonymous. It was you Yankees who wrote the song, You Always Hurt the One You Love, wasn't it?"

At this point in the proceedings, the reader could be forgiven for wondering just where this relationship could possibly be headed. Thankfully, the author’s imagination knows no bounds (or editor) and he next places the couple in one of the "innumerable opium dens that had sprung up all over San Francisco…since the war." After entering one such establishment and surveying the iniquity ("Sprawled on the couches, in various stages of undress, and also various stages of lovemaking, were men and women in hideous attitudes"), Boroslev and Helen partake of the drug. Ironically, this hedonistic indulgence leads the colonel to make a long, smoke-fueled critique of America that concludes with this passage:

You Yankees are always in a hurry about everything, not only your sex life, but in your eating and drinking, and in your traveling. If you save a few seconds today, will you actually have any more time tomorrow? Time isn’t something that you can bottle up, stopper, and save. Your lifetime, my lifetime, is but a drop of mist in the ocean, when you compare it with the essence of time. The only instance when time is actually important, and the only time when you have never considered it important, is during a war. Your Yankee complacency about military matters has led you to the brink of defeat and disaster, not the Red Army.

Helen Crawford, now completely brainwashed or completely stoned out of her gourd, embraces the Soviet philosophy and declares: "I believe you! I believe all that you say!" The couple then commences an erotic celebration of her political conversion:

It was only then that he gathered her into his huge hairy arms and they consummated their mutual desires in the most satisfactory experience that they had ever had since they met months before. Then, as the powerful aphrodisiac took full effect on her, she became filled with obsessions—she, who needed no aphrodisiac, had never needed one with the Colonel. She roused herself from time to time, and moved from one couch to another, unwittingly, not caring who shared her couch, or whether they were male or female.

Soon after the opium den excursion, Boroslev tires of Helen because of her medical condition—the one that he created by kicking her above the right ovary during their unusual “courtship.” He stops seeing Helen in favor of another woman. He also discontinues the regular delivery of “rich foods and wines” to her apartment. This all ends badly when Helen sneaks into her romantic rival’s home one morning and clobbers her with a milk bottle (apparently milk orders resumed after the atomic bombing):

Helen swung the heavy bottle with all her might, catching the blonde just over the left temple. She fell to the floor immediately, as though struck by lightning. Beneath her head, a deep crimson began mixing slowly with the whiteness of milk, curdling it.

Purgatory of the Conquered ends almost as swiftly as it begins and if anyone actually plans on reading this literary disaster for themselves, they are warned that spoilers follow below.

Peter Crawford mass produces a biological toxin extracted from tainted muscle shells that are then dumped into the West Coast water supplies. It kills off a large number of the Russian occupying force along with more than a few sacrificed American citizens. This enables the tipped-off military-in-hiding and the underground to rebound and drive the Reds out of the United States. Helen is literally tarred and feathered as a "collaborationist" and dies shortly after a reunion with her triumphant husband who diagnoses her malignant, inoperable ovarian cancer.

Just as the initial invasion was announced over the radio, so is the final victory:

"Ladies and gentleman, we interrupt this broadcast to bring you a special announcement. The Red Army has just surrendered to Allied forces, completely and unconditionally. More news in a moment."

With a nod to his "day job" profession as a physician (presumably he never quit to become a full-time novelist), the author concludes his book with the solitary, saintly Peter Crawford walking down a hallway to an operating room to treat another residual casualty of World War III.

Unfortunately, CONELRAD’s research indicates that the writer of Purgatory of the Conquered, Dr. Joseph L. Whatley, passed away in 1979, so we are unable to learn more about the motivations behind this bizarre novel. We suspect his survivors would rather not discuss the book, but if they are out there and so inclined, we’d love to hear from you.

CONELRAD is proud to place this unique book alongside the other strange titles in our ever-growing Cold War pulp library. We would like to take this opportunity to thank CONELRAD reader Arthur for making us aware of Purgatory of the Conquered.

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FROM THE INSIDE BOOK JACKET:

When the Soviet bombers sneak-attacked the United States in the late 1950’s, they smashed a nation rotten with years of soft living. The self-indulgent Americans quivered and shrieked under the invader’s whip as the Red infantry stormed onto West Coast beaches and Bolshevik panzer divisions raced towards the Rockies.

The symbol of this new Asiatic ruthlessness was Colonel Boroslev—muscular, brutal, dominating. In beautiful Helen Crawford he found his most exciting challenge—voluptuous Helen, whose body could stir men into madness, whose cold and savage soul had never been conquered, not even by her husband, brilliant scientist Peter Crawford. While the Red hordes, wild with lust, ran amuck through the shrieking, flaming pandemonium that had been San Francisco, these two fought their strange personal duel: A physical duel, fought with incredible frenzy, again and again, in Helen’s silken boudoir. A duel dragging them into the orgies of Communist opium dens, carrying them to undreamt-of ecstasies, forcing Helen to scream aloud with pleasure, leaving her crushed with exhaustion. A duel of the mind, also—attacking our American arrogance towards the “inferior” dark-skinned peoples; our hollow ethical and religious codes; our perverted marriages, with their masculinized wives and feminized husbands; our pretentious, inhuman Occidental civilization.

But it was left to Peter Crawford, wielding his surgeon’s scalpel for the resurgent American troops, to strip naked the rank cancer, the utter corruption that was the fruit of this fantastic, intimate contact between East and West. PURGATORY OF THE CONQUERED is a remarkable story, graphic in its Dantean portrayal of a man and woman whose violent encounter, and equally violent damnation, typify the conflict and sickness of the stricken modern world. It offers vivid, stimulating reading from cover to cover.
Joseph L. Whatley, author of Purgatory of the Conquered
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book jacket):

Joseph L. Whatley was born in Georgia in 1922. He attended The Citadel, “West Point of the South,” and received his M.D. degree from The Medical College of the State of South Carolina.

In 1948 he received a commission in the Regular Navy Medical Corps and has since been on continuous active duty. He has served in Naval Hospitals in San Diego, Oakland, Bethesda, and Charleston; as squadron Medical Officer aboard destroyers in the Pacific; and as Staff Medical Officer for the Navy Communications Stations in Hawaii.

At present Dr. Whatley holds the rank of Commander. He is a member of the Phi Chi Medical Fraternity, a service member of the American Medical Association, and a candidate for the American Board of Surgeons. He is married and has three children. His hobbies (aside from his first love, surgery) include oil painting and the study of philosophy.

PURGATORY OF THE CONQUERED was written, for the most part, while Dr. Whatley was aboard ship in the Korean Theatre. At that time ships of the Seventh Fleet were frequently making sonar contacts with underwater craft, presumed to be Russian submarines, and everyone was fearful that an incident off the shores of Korea would precipitate World War III, and plunge the world into a holocaust such as that described in this exciting, prophetic novel.

PURGATORY OF THE CONQUERED
Joseph L. Whatley
Copyright 1956
Published by Greenwich Book Publishers, New York
112 Pages

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