One moment good-will bound the United States and the great Power across the sea… the next, shells screamed their death wails into Coast homes and factories. No citizen was safe from the bloody holocaust when the Yellow Empire struck without warning from the Pacific. With fiendish artifice the world was turned against us. And somewhere in this country, covertly completing the terrifying work of wholesale destruction, lurked the ruthless agent of the invading hordes. Operator 5 alone guessed the dread secret and matched his individual might against a million war-drunk terrorists—while the nation trembled on the brink of red wreckage!
“The Yellow Scourge” is the third Operator 5 novel and was published originally in June 1934.
The enemy once again is the Yellow Empire, which appears to be Japan if actual 1934 events are any guide, as noted in the review of the “Invisible Empire.” The names of Yellow Empire officials continue to be forms suitable for the Japanese, but are not normal names for folks from that ethnicity. However, the names of some of the Yellow Empire ships do not conform to the Japanese language, but are more appropriate for other parts of Asia. Perhaps, the empire represents a greater Asia with the Japanese as lead.
The books begins with the Yellow Empire and American fleets at San Diego Bay. An incident occurs where Yellow Empire ships are attacked by a submarine aircraft carrier, a secret vessel built by the Americans but stolen by the Yellow Empire. The Yellow Empire is responsible for all the wrongdoing but makes it look like it is the responsibility of the US. Their propaganda is aimed at isolating the US from its allies, and is supplemented by ships colored like American ships being used to attack vessels of other countries. The Yellow Empire also uses false American spies to destroy other country’s installations, and leak documentation that the US is planning to attack Mexico and Canada. The leader of this effort to frame the US is beautiful spy Kara Vizan. Vast yellow infantry is seen marching to fight the US, and rumors of more exist.
Could the Yellow Empire succeed in conquering the US with these tactics? First the Yellow Empire would have to take out the American naval fleet, certainly the part in the Pacific, but probably also worldwide. They were not able to do this fully in this novel, and certainly Japan was unable to defeat the Pacific Fleet in WW II even after the disaster at Pearl Harbor. If the navy was destroyed and if allies are unwilling to help the US, the Yellow Empire would have been able to transport troops to America to conquer it. It would probably take 10 million (or more) troops to do the job; while Japan by itself might have difficulty raising this number, a greater Asia might have been able to so, perhaps with ease.
With the guidance of Jimmy Christopher, Operator 5, the US thwarts the Yellow Empire in the sea and diplomatically as the empire’s plans are revealed. After the Yellow Empire emperor pleads ignorance of the plans to war with the US and blames it all on Kara Vizan. Operator 5 and the Americans seem to believe him even though this is the second time in so many months that aspects of the Yellow Empire tried to conquer the US. However, as indicated in this story, I do not think that the Yellow Empire does not do enough to turn other nations against the US, especially if the Yellow Empire is Japan, which was already being very aggressive in 1934.
Diane Elliott, Operator 5’s female interest, is also introduced in this story.
While I do not think that the scheme as laid out in this novel would have resulted in defeating the US without some additional ingredients, I found the actions and political machination as being realistic and reasonable for a 1934 pulp. I enjoyed it fully!