Whirlwind Hardcover – Nov 1986
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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.
''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(London)
''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(London) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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!
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.