Summary: The 21st Century began in 1979
Comment: 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.
Summary: I tried, I really did try!
Comment: I LOVED reading Shogun and Noble House, great books, everyone should read them, it should be mandatory reading for all high school students. So only for my love of Clavell did I try to read Whirlwind twice, yes twice. And the sad part is I am thinking about trying to read it again, I miss reading Clavell. Its ether Whirlwind or read Tai-Pan a 2nd time or Shogun or Noble House a 3rd time.
Summary: Good read, but dissappointing conclusion to the series
Comment: Like many readers I was unable to read Whirlwind until I happened upon it in a used book store while on vacation. I approached this book with a bit of trepidation due to its being set in Iran and not Hong Kong or Japan like Clavell's other works. Overall I enjoyed reading Whirlwind, but it failed to captivate me in the way several of the other books in the Asian Series had been able to.
The plot focuses on the experiences of several ex-pat helicopter pilots employed by a subsidiary company of Strauns. Though several characters from Noble House do make appearance in the story, Whirlwind does not give closure to the epic of Straun's which makes it a disappointing chronological ending to the series. At the time of his untimely death, Clavell was planning additional works in the Asian Series, and though the intended plots of these unwritten works is not known, it is likely Whirlwind may not have been his inteded chronological conclusion for the series.
Whirlwind is an acceptable read for any reader desiring to complete the series, or for those interested in Iran. At nearly 1300 pages, it will not be a quick read for most. A worthwhile, if not entirely satisfying, conclusion for any fan of Clavell or his asian saga.
Summary: Second only to Shogun
Comment: Whirlwind is by far my second favourite of Clavell's novels. Like Shogun - and unlike some of the other novels in the series - Whirlwind abounds with compelling characters and engrossing sub-plots. If you are going to read through Clavell's work chronologically (and I do recommend this approach) I suggest you commit to following through to the end or you will miss one of Clavell's finest pieces.
Clavell's mastery of historical fiction is incontestable: Whirlwind is one of the finest examples of his talent.
Summary: Good ... but nothing compared to the Noble House or Tai-Pan
Comment: The Whirlwind is James Clavell's last book in his famous Asian series that consists of the Shogun, the Tai-Pan, the Noble House, the Gai-Jin and the King Rat. It is a good book: worth buying and reading ... but it is far from the eloquence and finesse that the author demonstrated in the other novels of the saga. Overall: I would recommend it for those who are used to reading the Clavell-style stories heavily loaded with historical and cultural references ... but for a beginner I would rather suggest to start with Clavell's other masterpieces.
In any case, the book provides a reader with interesting information about Iran, its religious affairs, cultural background and societal traditions. I found this aspect of the book more fascinating than the "action" itself: for whatever reason I was not really impressed by the author's line of storytelling this time. But be aware, even some of the cultural elements in the Whirlwind might be misleading: for example one episode (in which two of the female protagonists get engaged in a light lesbian affair in a bathtub) I think is absurd or exaggerated. Also, I missed a more elaborate description of the Iranian gastronomy, an element that is so important in the other novels that feature stories in Japan or Hong Kong.
Well, for those who still insist on reading it ... go on and let us know what you think about it when you managed to wade through those 1350 pages ... !!!