1933-07 Pirate of the Pacific

Cover Date: July 1933
Volume 1 # 5
Copyright Date: Friday, June 16, 1933
Author: Lester Dent
Editor: John Nanovic
Bantam Edition # 19, September 1967
Sanctum Edition # 6
Story Length: 50,100 words

WHMC: The collection contains nine folders, f. 73-81.

This story starts out as a direct sequel to “The Polar Treasure.”  Doc and his men are returning in the Helldiver from their arctic voyage.

The main topic of this story is piracy in the Far East and in particular the taking of an entire country as the prize.

The story has some basis in fact. Lim Ah Hong, or “Limahong” as he was called, was an infamous pirate of the South China Sea. In 1574, he invaded the Philippine Islands and attempted to capture the town of Manila. His exploits are mentioned in  by Antonio de Morga.

Piracy was still a very serious problem in the South China Sea during the time this story was written.

Tom Too’s pirates make frequent use of Mandarin Chinese.

Finance: It is revealed that Doc Savage is part owner of the shipping line that controls the Malay Queen.

Tom Too’s gang use the Dragon Oriental Goods Company as a front.  That would be the D. O. G. company.  This belittlement might be a coincidence but I doubt it.

Commonwealth of the Philippines: The Luzon Union is a thinly veiled attempt to disguise the fact that the real nation in question was the Philippine Islands. The question of Philippine independence had been hotly debated over the past few years. In December 1932 the United States Congress sent a bill to President Hoover that laid out a plan for independence. Hoover vetoed the bill. Supporters of the bill garnered the necessary number of votes to override the Presidential veto and the bill became the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act of 1933.

Newspaper article – April 5, 1932

The Act required ratification by the Philippine Senate. The language in the bill granted the United States certain rights to military bases in the country after independence. The Philippine Senate found this objectionable and rejected the bill. This led the way for the Tydings-McDuffie Act or the Philippine Independence Act of 1934. The onerous language relating to US military bases was removed and the Philippine Senate approved the bill. Out of this the Commonwealth of the Philippines was created with a timetable for complete independence in 1945.

Tom Too appears to face certain death at the end of the story but readers can never be sure if he is really dead.


April 12, 1930 – In a letter from Lester Dent to John F. Byrne, Managing Editor of Action Stories regarding a previously rejected story.  Dent noted that he was also including a filler article of 200 words, “Piracy in Chinese Waters.”  

This was single page article written by Lester Dent.  It noted that during 1929 there were over six hundred attacks on ships by Chinese buccaneers.  Dent noted that one technique used by the Chinese bandits was to have some of the gang members sail on the ship that was to be attacked.  This is a plot device Dent latter used in some of the Doc Savage adventures such as the 1933 stories,  “Pirate of the Pacific” and “The Sargasso Ogre.”  Source: WHMC Folder C3701_f1.

The San Francisco Examiner carried a detailed two-page article by Aleko Lillus in the Sunday, December 22, 1929 edition.  The article was titled “A Voyage in a Chinese Pirate Junk with a Woman Captain.”

This article was only a small part of “I Sailed With Chinese Pirates” by Aleko Lilius which was first published in 1930. Lilius was one of those adventurous journalists who would travel to exotic locations in search of material. It has been reported that Lester Dent read this book and it is likely that “Pirate of the Pacific” was influenced by Lilius’ story.

Read “I Sailed With Chinese Pirates” at Archive.org.


The striking cover of the pulp issue by Walter Baumhofer was also used for the cover of the first issue of Doc Savage Comics.