[This post has been updated since I sort of fell asleep in the middle of writing it last night]
The “Devil’s Guard” trilogy of books by George Robert Elford are an anomaly in publishing, consisting of three books which are among the rarest and most expensive post-1970 publications in the world. It is difficult to find even a paperback version of either DG1 (Devil’s Guard) or DG3 (Devil’s Guard III Unconditional Warfare) for less than $150 anywhere, and DG2 (Recall to Inferno) is almost impossible to find under $295. Try some Amazon searches on “Devil’s Guard Elford”, “Recall to Inferno Elford” without the quotes, and you will see what I mean.
Apparently, the copyright holders have no intention of allowing new printings, therefore the price of these books is ridiculously, artificially inflated.
Why these books are significant: Several months after 9-11, while perusing an Internet forum, I read where someone noted “the only way we can win against this enemy is to go the route of the Devil’s Guard.” After a bit of research, I learned that Elford’s works, though highly controversial, were also viewed seriously by military strategists around the globe. The story in these books traces the experiences of a former German Waffen-SS battalion under the command of “Hans Josef Wagemueller” which joins the French Foreign Legion after World War II and heads to Indochina to fight the Viet Minh and ends up playing a role throughout the Vietnam War.
The books are framed as a narrative by Wagemueller recorded by author George Robert Elford. The gist of the narrative is: This is what you absolutely, positively must do if you want to prevail over a terrorist insurgency. Methods employed are extraordinarily harsh, although in the course of the stories the acts of the “good guys” are consonant with those of the enemies. What you get is a true sense of war and what it takes to win a war in such an environment.
I will wait for NR to weigh in on this, because his opinion is the only one that matters as far as I am concerned. Is the Wagemueller story useful, or is it crap?
Anyway (this was the point of the post in the first place but the hour got late before I could finish) I found a copy of DG1 on Amazon the other day for $11, “used” and of course snapped it up. Then a few days later the reseller e-mailed me saying my copy had been returned from the local post office “water damaged” and would I want them to find another copy. I wrote back, “sure, that would be great” thinking in the back of my mind they were going to come back with a $300 copy of the book. A few hours later they wrote to me that they could not find the same edition (1984) but found a 1972 edition, and would I want that instead. 1972 was the first run in paperback.
I said “Sure, thanks so much” and then wondered if I was in the process of being scammed, either to receive a totally different book for $11 (there is a a similar work by the same title), or a first print edition of DG1 for full market price, an amount I would never want to pay for a book regardless of its rarity. Well, yesterday the book arrived, a pretty clean first edition of DG1 in paperback, with the invoice for $15 inclusive of shipping. How odd is that? It is going to be kept in a very safe place.