By William Wetherall

First posted 5 May 2010
Last updated 7 May 2010

1977 Python Book edition
1980 Avon edition

Thaddeus Tuleja
Land of Precious Snow
New York: Python Publishing Group (Whirlwind Books), 1977
New York: Avon Books, 1980
175 pages, paperback

The novel consists of ten titled chapters set between November 1896 and September 1897, though not strictly in this order. The story opens in February 1897, with "Sugar Duke" William P. Detroit mounting an expedition to serach for his friend John Pierre Dey and Dey's 20-year-old son Jethro.

The previous year, the elder Dey, a dealer in precious stones, and taken his son to the Far East to purchase some jewels, and they have not been heard of since. Jey Dey, a junior at Harvard, was supposed to have gone only as far as Calcutta then returned alone to the United States for the fall 1896 term. His father would go on to Tibet.

Detroit is not happy about the situation, and is especially irked by the need to go to Tibet (Avon edition, page 18).

Tibet! No one -- not even the Van Damms, who had been everywhere -- went to Tibet. It was white space on the map. A secret saatisfaction enhanced his antipathy for the project: had not John and the boy got pretty much what they deserved? India, by dammit, was bad enough; only a family as eccentric as the Deys would have conceived the notion of Tibet in the first place. Did that mean that Detroit was obliged to send his only son (no matter how eager the fool was to go) down the beaten track after them?

Urging Detroit to let his son Bill pursue the whereabouts of the Deys is his daughter Jennifer, Bill's younger sister, who is "unofficially betrothed" to Jed Dey. Jed had been corresponding with her and last wrote from Calcutta in saying "No luck here. North to Tibet."

The senior Dey spoke "a grating patois of Provincial French, mountain slang, and -- if legend be true -- an Indian tongue from somewhere just east of the Rockies." The particulars of Jed Dey's life do not include knowledge of his mother, who died shortly after his birth in the gold fields. Presumably "it was from her that the father and son had acquired their facility in heathen tongues."

The father took his son with him as he circled the globe, spending time in Central America, "then by steamer to China, India, and Japan, where the former prospector augmented his knowledge of the precious things on earch by purchasing, ultimately, twelve trunks full of jade, amber, turquoise, beryl, and silver" -- paid for with gold.

Detroit had warned his friend Dey about Harvard, which "had educated presidents" but now -- ruled by "progressive forces . . . under the control of Charles Eliot Norton" -- "was producing the likes of the Negro radical W.E.B. DuBois, the Jew freethinker Santayana, and Jed's own eccentric tutor, the ranting oddfellow Yarrowville." But Dey had ignored Detroit's offer to "write a recommendation to his own alma mater, where education still came from the great books of the West" (pages 26-27).

So Jed had gone to Harvard and come back, as Detroit had predicted, confused, unsettled, and proud. To his father's political inconsistency he added an ingenuousness all his own; by the first Thanksgiving break he had begun to dabble in everything from Oriental mysticism to poetry. If he could be said to have a philosophy at all, it was purely negative one, resting on an unquestioning hostility to everything his New York background had taught him to revere. He was no longer Jethro Dey, heir to one of the minor American fortunes; fed by Eliot's company, he had become Jed Dey, philosphe, knight errant, quack.

The nonsense he had talked that first vacation! Spouting bits of the "Gita" and the Transcendentalists, chewing vegetables, boasting that next to Will, Jr., his best friend was that anarchist Yarrowville. Was it any wonder he had ended up in Tibet?

Chapter 1 -- "The Avenue (February 1897)" -- continues in this highly humorous vein of social satire that is perhaps best understood from the perspective of the 1970s, the decade Land of Precious Snow was published, at the height of post-bohemian Hippydom. The second chapter, "Snowblind (November 1896)", switches the "he" protagonist from the senior Detroit to the junior Dey (page 35)

Soon, Jed told himself, it would be over.

A painter afforded the vantage of the vultures might have missed seeing the dot that was Jethro Dey amid the stark splendor of the early morning Tibetan landscape. . . . Nor would he suspect that, of the five that had set out from Kathmandu for Lhasa a month ago four were dead an one, blind and freezing, was now confronting the fact that he would soon join his former companions.

His father, and his mother -- if the priests told true. In a little while the fantastic events of the past few months would enter an unwritten history, with none but the vultures to say that on this day sometime in the middle of a Tibetan winter, somewhere in the midst of a great white space, Jethro Dey of New York City, amid corpses of his father and three Nepalese porters, had given his spirit up to the elements.

As fun as parts of the story were, I have to admit I had to force myself to endure long stretches that perhaps I would have understood better had I been less alienated when I was going to college in the 1960s and 1970s, and particated in the near fanatical quest for meaning in anything and everything "mystical" -- or had I been literally or metaphorically smoking something.

Promotional burbs

The Avon edition has the following blurbs.

Front cover

In 1896, Tibet was a barbarous land
of ice and a golden world of enlightenment

A novel of an American adventurer who
survived and was reborn

Back cover

He was raised by wild Indians, Chinamen, and Parisians -- but all Jed Dey knew of his heritage was that it was as exotic and mysterious as the fabulous jewels his father parlayed into a fortune along New York's Millionaire's Row.

Then all of his past was slashed into oblivion high on a Himalayan glacier by the sword of a black-toothed bandit, who slaughtered his father, ended a great quest for the rarest of earthly gold -- and began for Jed a greater quest, for an even more wondrous possession.

LAND OF PRECIOUS SNOW evokes a world of ice and demons, hermits and magic; traces a journey from the terrifying hallucinations of death to the majestic monasteries of eternal wisdom; and brings to life a land, wind-carved and cedar-scented, where the only truth is: as you imagine life, so it is . . .


The first leaf of the book has this teaser.

Jed Dey and his father, a dealer in precious stones, left New York for the Far East in search of rare gold. But when seven months pass with no word from the expedition, Will Detroit, Jed's closest friend, abandons the glamorous whirl of turn-of-the-century New York society to head a search party into the treacherous, snow-covered montains to Tibet.

In a monastery hidden high in the rugged Himalayas, Will finds his friend utterly transformed and is forced to accept the shocking truth . . .

Jed does not want to be rescued.

Thaddeus Tuleja

According to some sources, which I am unable to confirm, Thaddeus Tuleja was the pen behind the name Marshall Macao, who wrote the seven titles of the Chong Fei K'ing Kung-Fu series published by Venus Freeway Press in New York and London in the early 1970s, shortly before the appearance of Land of Precious Snow.

1. Son of the Flying Tiger (1973)
2. Return of the Opium Wars (1973)
3. The Rape of Sun Lee Fong (1973)
4. The Kak-Abdullah Conspiracy (1973)
5. Red Plague in Bolivia (1974)
6. New York Necromancy (1974)
7. Mark of the Vulture (1974)

Chong Fei K'ing, the Son of The Flying Tiger, was orphaned in China, where he was trained from childhood in the martial arts.

Equating "Marshall Macao" with "Thaddeus Tuleja" does not, however, shed much light on the identity of "Thaddeus Tuleja" much less his object in writing Land of Precious Snow -- in which Jed Dey, a survivor of an adventure gone wrong in the Himalayas, finds his Shangri-La in the embrace of Tibetan Buddhism.

Thaddeus V. Tuleja, of St. Peter's College, Jersey City, New Jersey, was a professor of history. A captain in the US Navy Reserve after service during World War II, he held the Navel War College Ernest J. King Chair of Maritime History from 1970-1971. This Tad Tuleja was the author of a number of well-known tomes on military history, including Climax at Midway (1960).

Thaddeus F. Tuleja is the author of books like these.

1982 Fabulous Fallacies: More Than 300 Popular Beliefs That Are Not True
1987 Curious Customs: The Stories behind 296 Popular American Rituals
1988 The Cat`s Pajamas: A Fabulous Fictionary of Familiar Phrases
1989 The Catalog of Lost Books: An Annotated and Seriously Addled Collection of Great Books That Should Have Been Written, But Never Were
1992 Quirky Quotations: The Stories and Truth Behind Our Favorite Quotable Comments (More Than 500 Fascinating, Quotable Comments and the Stories Behind Them)
1992 American History in 100 Nutshells

That's a new name to me. Some of Goulart's pseudonyms are: - CHAD CALHOUN - R.T. EDWARDS - IAN R. JAMIESON - JOSEPH KAINS - JILL KEARNY - HOWARD LEE - ZEKE MASTERS - MARSHALL MACAO - KENNETH ROBESON - FRANK S. SHAWN - JOSEPH SILVA - CON STEFFANSON The Sloane books are by Michel Parry as Steve Lee. 'Kenneth Robeson' was the magazine house name used mainly by Lester Dent for the Doc Savage Magazine novels of the 1930s (a few other authors used the name, but he wrote most of the stories). Howard Lee is the name that appears on the covers of the first 4 original Kung Fu novelisations published by Warner between 1973-74, to tie-in with the David Carradine TV series, which, as far as I know, started the Kung Fu craze over here. Re: K'ing Kung Fu - Marshall Macao Reply #22 on: Mar 27th, 2008, 07:09am Hate to resurrect an old thread, but just to set the record straight, I searched for a while to try and find out who the actual author/author's of the K'ing Kung Fu series were and Ron Goulart's name came up. But I wrote to Ron and he had this to say: "You are on the wrong track. I've been credited with this series on a couple of Net bibliographies, but it ain't so. What I did write back then was two of the 4 Warner paperbacks based on the Carradine Kung Fu television series. Barry Malzberg wrote the 1st one and, I think, Lou Cameron wrote the other one."