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Whirlwind [Hardcover]

James Clavell
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 1986
A thriller revolving around three weeks of fanaticism, passion, self-sacrifice and heartbreak in Tehran in February 1979. An epic, abundant in sub-plots, characters, intrigue and atmosphere.
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

Andrew Gavallan, based in Scotland, runs a helicopter company operating in Iran during the Shah's reign. When Khomeini comes to power, Gavallan must get his pilots and their families, and his valuable helicopters, out of the riot-torn country. Complicating matters is his power struggle with his company's secret owner, the Noble House of Hong Kong. The pilots' escape efforts form the basic story but as usual in a Clavell novel the action sweeps across many lives: lovers, spies, fanatics, revolutionaries, friends and betrayers. British, Finnish, American, and Iranian, all are caught up in a deadly religious and political upheaval. Clavell effectively portrays the chilling and bewildering encounters when Westernized lifestyle clashes with harsh ancient traditions. This novel, the fifth in what he calls his Asian Series ( Noble H o use, King Rat, Tai Pan, Shogun ) is certain to be in much demand. A.M.B. Amantia, Population Crisis Committee Lib., Washington D.C.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

So abundant in sub-plots, characters, intrigue and atmosphere that its 1,000-plus pages seem barely adequate. Some of the most enjoyable reading around. Daily Mail 'Clavell seems to creep inside the very soul of the land and the people ... A damn good read' Boston Herald WHIRLWIND is strongly structured, skilfully plotted, rich in detail and very entertaining. Clavell brings the grimness and grandeur of an ancient land to life San Francisco Chronicle James Clavell does more than entertain. He transports us into worlds we've not known, stimulating, educating, questioning ... a wonder of detail Washington Post The author handles the plot with all the confident authority of a ring-master, keeping a half-dozen themes and a formidable cast of characters moving along at a cracking pace. By the end I was breathless and lost in admiration at the sheer professionalism of it all Sunday Telegraph --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bleh. Just bleh. Jan. 10 2004
Format:Hardcover
You probably came into Clavell's opus late, reading them in chronological order as opposed to published order. You've found Whirlwind tough to find, unlike all the others. There's a reason for that. Whirlwind isn't set in Japan or China, and the characters and families we grew to love (and in some cases, hate), aren't the protagonists here. Hence, it sold nowhere near the number of paperbacks as the previous books. Check eBay, a bazillion HC's that nobody bids on, and no PB's.
My advice? Let it go after Noble House. Yes that's disappointing, but nowhere near as disappointing as reading this book. Of course the most disappointing thing of all is that James didn't live long enough to write about the turnover of Hong Kong to Mainland China.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great read from (RIP) author Jan. 11 2013
By Gary
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
James has the knack to get into a lot of detail important to the setting and characters. At 1200 pages, it is one of the biggest books I'm reading, good for avid readers or a little time on your hands. My last one was Gaijin, 1160 pages and also one of his. The story will grab your interest and not let go. ++++
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  66 reviews
66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Out of familiar territory, Clavell still writes a great book Oct. 3 1997
By Joe Kenney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I bought Whirlwind at a used bookstore with a mixture of anticipation and regret. Anticipation because Clavell always writes one hell of a good book. Regret because, besides "the Children's Story," this was the only Clavell book I hadn't read, and, due to his unfortunate death in 1993, I guess we won't be seeing anything new from him ever again (will anything be released posthumously?) Instead of his normal Japanese or Chinese locales Clavell delves into Iran, circa 1979. The Revolution is going on and it's looking bad for the European and American members of an Iran-based helicopter company, secretly owned by the Noble House of Hong Kong. Clavell flawlessly combines the small struggles in life, like taboo, cross-cultural loves, business, life and death, with the religous zealously that swept across a nation and changed it dramatically. All of his familiar plots and subplots are here, not as manifold as "Noble House," but still the novel is much deeper and far-reaching than just about any other modern fiction. And character? Every one of Clavell's characters seem to be cut out of real-life, with their own dreams and desires and challenges.
One last cool thing is that certain characters from Noble House appear in this book, letting us see what's happened in their lives in the past seventeen years (Noble House takes place in 1962.) My recommendation: if you like Clavell, you'll like this, even though it all takes place in the Middle East, with no Asian locales. If you can, read it in order, after Noble House, as chronologically this is the last of the Eastern Saga, even though "Tai-Pan" was written in 1993.
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WHIRLWIND: Read it again! Oct. 5 2001
By Guy Rollins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I first read Whirlwind when it hit the bookstores in '88. I was a Clavell fan since Shogun and eagerly awaited his newest novel. I was slightly disappointed with the book at the time, thinking it didn't live up to my favorites, Shogan and Tai Pan.
Last week I picked up Whirlwind again, because of the events of 9-11 and the current focus on Islamic fundamentalists.
Whirlwind is about the creation of an Islamic state in Iran. At the beginning of the book the Shaw has fled and Khomeni returns. Everywhere there is chaos and the story centers around a group of expat Europeans who try to deal with and ultimately extricate themselves from Iran before they lose everything.
The book begins and ends with a righteous Mullah's thoughts. At the end the Mullah has discovered the weakness of the Europeans (non-believers), the key to their future control: They value the individual. By putting his foot on the neck of one non-believer, a Believer can control millions. This is the message he vows to spread to all Believers (Muslims).
Whirlwnd is strangely prophetic and relevant in light of the 9-11 tragedies. I understood and enjoyed it more today than I did in '88. I highly recommend it.
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars End of the saga Oct. 3 2002
By "taipanjlips" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
So very, very sad to be finished with Whirlwind knowing that I'll never truly know how the Noble House winds up. Of course with the tech boom of the 80s, I'm sure Struan-Dunross-MacStuan-Gallavan(?) made out just fine.
What I loved about Whirlwind and the Asian saga in general is how Clavell really let us get inside the minds of these people. From learning about the 'Wa' in Shogun to 'Joss' in Tai-Pan to 'God is Great' in Whirlwind, I feel like I have gained valuable insight into the thought process of the Japanese, Chinese and Iranians. But philosphies aside, Clavell is a master storyteller. So much fun to be caught up in both a story and the characters involved. 1200 pages, not nearly long enough!
Whirlwind is a great read. While Shogun will remain my favorite (prolly because I read it first) I would encourage anyone and everyone to read this gripping tale of Persian turmoil. Of course, you gotta read the saga in order though!
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing journey into the Iran Crisis May 31 2001
By I. C. Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have read all of Clavell's novels in the Asian Saga, and although Shogun, Noble House and King Rat are more influential, Whirlwind was my personal favorite. The tale of a British helicopter company associated with the Noble House, with pilots of American, British, Canadian, Finnish, and Australian nationalities who become involuntarily immersed with the Iranian Revolution of 1979 is an incredible in-depth story. Complex, with many stories within the story that slowly unravels in this 1100 page epic. Clavell is able to write about the mysterious country of Iran in great detail, that to read the novel is a learning experience in itself. Because so much is going on simultaneously, however, one can become lost in the complexity of the story. Nevertheless, Clavell manages to weave the story together so that the novel concludes in an epic fashion, leaving the reader emotionally drained, yet satisfied. Unfortunately, with Clavell's death, Whirlwind is not able to be expounded upon. Clavell never was able to finish off his Asian Saga, and there are many loose ends in the book that you expect to be covered in future novels, but never will.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 21st Century began in 1979 Feb. 17 2008
By Charles Hoffman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I first read Whirlwind when the hardback appeared in 1986. Although a great admirer of Clavell's work, I found it tough going. The memory of the 1979 Iranian hostage was still fresh, and it just rankled. Others apparantly felt the same way, for sales for the book were disappointing. It is the only Clavell novel not currently in print. Although I reread other Clavell works from time to time, I did not reread Whirlwind until late in 2007.

I'm happy to say that, like fine wine, Whirlwind has aged very well. The period it recounts so vividly is ground zero for all our present difficulties. By way of contrast, Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising, the big seller of 1986, was dated and obsolete five years after it was published. And as in all of Clavell's works, Whirlwind yields many valuable insights into the human condition.

The 21st Century began in 1979. Whirlwind details the birth pangs of our present troubled era. Whirlwind is overdue for a reissue, and I devoutly hope that one will be forthcoming in the near future.
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