Executive Orders (novel)

American flag is background for author’s name, book title
Clancy’s focus is America.

Within minutes after Jack Ryan is sworn in to serve as a one-year caretaker vice president, Jack Ryan finds himself President. A kamikaze attack on the Capitol has killed President Durling, the entire Supreme Court and the Joint Chiefs, all but two of the Cabinet members, and most of the members of the House and Senate.

Suddenly Ryan’s “caretaking” means putting the federal government back together again. America’s enemies see the greenhorn president as an opportunity too good not to exploit.

Threats arise on all sides.

The president of Iraq is assassinated and Iran’s chief cleric assumes control of what he declares to be a United Islamic state.

China and India both create distractions.

At home, Ryan is harassed by the former vice-president, the media, and staff members who expect him to be political and presidential.

Terrorists devise a way to sneak the Ebola virus into US convention centers. They activate sleeper agents to kill the President and kidnap his children.

To follow Executive Orders, you’ll need to keep your atlas handy, but Tom Clancy is a marvelous storyteller. He packs with information worth knowing without letting it overwhelm the story.

I suspect few people under 60 will be able to follow Clancy’s story today.

That’s their loss, and America’s.

Executive Orders by Tom Clancy
G. P. Putnam. ©1996. 874 p.
1996 bestseller #2; my grade: A

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

Whirlwind by James Clavell

James Clavell’s Whirlwind is a good novel, but there’s just too much of it.

map of area where Whirlwind takes place
You can’t read Whirlwind without a map to help you follow the action. 

Whirlwind is about employees of a British helicopter company operating in Iran in 1979. The Shah has left, and the country has descended into chaos. Pro-Khomeini Iranians are scrambling to grab all they can from the detested atheistic capitalists.

Pilot Scot Gavallan describes the company’s predicament this way:

Our Iran’s gone. Most of the fellows we’ve worked with over the years have fled, are in hiding, dead—or against us if they like it or not.

The S-G employees come up with a plan to get themselves and as many of their aircraft as possible out of Iran before the fleet is nationalized.

Their plan, code-named Whirlwind, will be very dangerous, but staying is also dangerous.

Though Clavell is a fine writer, Whirlwind is simply too much story for one novel. Readers have to keep track of a dozen pilots, their wives or girlfriends, spies for several governments, and a host of minor characters.

Besides that, there are not many novel readers around today who watched the Iranian revolution unfold on NBC Nightly News and acquired the background to appreciate Clavell’s story.

scarf caught on a raised machine gun

Whirlwind by James Clavell
W. Morrow, 1986. 1147 p.
1986 bestseller #3; my grade: B+

© 2019 Linda G. Aragoni