Pendleton, Don (pulp fiction writer)



Don Pendleton had the rare distinction of single -handedly creating a genre—the super-violent action-adventure series—that was not well-respected but that had a tremendous impact on American publishing in the 1970s and beyond. Pendleton’s War Against the Mafia (1969) was the story of Mack Bolan, a tough Vietnam vet whose stateside family is brutally wiped out by the Mob. Bolan then dedicates his life to extracting revenge on the entire Mafia. His all-or-nothing approach and devastating weaponry lead to scenes of spectacular bloodletting and high body counts and to Bolan’s well-deserved nickname, “the Executioner.” Pendleton’s topics were crude, with mundane characterization and formulaic plotting, but the scenes of action and violence were startlingly detailed and lengthy. Another Bolan adventure, Death Squad, followed that same year, with countless more mobsters biting the dust. Two more followed in 1970, and then, with the Pinnacle topics series selling like gangbusters, from three to five new Executioner titles a year for decades.

Pendleton had come to writing after nearly 30 years of unrelated labor, from an underage enlistment in the U.S. Navy during World War II, to years as telegrapher, air-traffic controller, and engineering administrator. He entered the topic-writing business peddling erotica to small paperback developers such as Brandon House and Greenleaf. The Executioner made Pendleton an unlikely best- selling novelist and literary archetype. The Mack Bolan topics found great acceptance among blue-collar male readers, a segment of the population that had once been crucial to paperback sales but that lately had been allowed to drift away. Pendle-ton showed developers how to sell to them again— with no ambiguity about the bad guys, simple prose, plenty of bloody action, tough, lone-wolf heroes, and often a paramilitary concern for weaponry and strategy. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s Bolan wandered the country unleashing hell on mafiosi from Arizona to New Jersey, and later he ventured across the borders to Canada, South America, and elsewhere.

Pendleton left the series to other writers after the 38th volume, climaxing Bolan’s war with the Mafia in the apocalyptic Satan’s Sabbath, published in March 1980. In the late ’80s, Pendleton came up with a new series, the gritty adventures of urban private eye “Joe Copp.” The topics were punchy and entertaining, but they did not have the success of the Executioner series.


  • All Lovers Accepted (1968);
  • All the Trimmings (1966);
  • Ashes to Ashes (1986);
  • Color Her Adulteress (1967);
  • Copp for Hire (1987);
  • Copp in Deep (1989);
  • Copp in Shock (1992);
  • Copp in the Dark (1990);
  • Copp on Fire (1988);
  • Copp on Ice (1991);
  • Eye to Eye (1986);
  • Hot One, The (1967);
  • Huntress, The (1966);
  • Insatiables, The (1967);
  • Life to Life (1987);
  • Mind to Mind (1987);
  • Olympians, The (1969);
  • Sex Goddess, The (1967);
  • Sexy Saints, The (1967);
  • Time to Time (1988);
  • Truth About Sex, The (1969);
  • Vegas Vendetta (1971)


  • Acapulco Rampage (1976);
  • Arizona Ambush (1977);
  • Assault on Soho (1971);
  • Battle Mask (1970);
  • Boston Blitz (1972);
  • California Hit (1972);
  • Canadian Crisis (1975);
  • Caribbean Kill (1972);
  • Chicago Wipe-Out (1971);
  • Cleveland Pipeline (1977);
  • Colorado Kill-Zone (1976);
  • Command Strike (1977);
  • Continental Contract (1971);
  • Death Squad (1969);
  • Detroit Deathwatch (1974);
  • Dixie Convoy (1976);
  • Firebase Seattle (1975);
  • Friday’s Feast (1979);
  • Hawaiian Hellground (1975);
  • Jersey Guns (1974);
  • Miami Massacre (1970);
  • Monday’s Mob (1978);
  • New Orleans Knockout (1974);
  • Nightmare in New York (1971);
  • Panic in Philly (1973);
  • San Diego Siege (1972);
  • Satan’s Sabbath (1980);
  • Savage Fire (1977);
  • St. Louis Showdown (1975);
  • Tennessee Smash (1978);
  • Terrible Tuesday (1979);
  • Texas Storm (1974);
  • Thermal Thursday (1979);
  • Vegas Vendetta (1971);
  • War Against the Mafia (1969);
  • Washington IOU (1972);
  • Wednesday’s Wrath (1979)

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