7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic, yet frustrating. Brilliant, yet annoying.,
This review is from: Red Storm Rising (Paperback)
I have returned to this novel several times. Every few years I dig it out, dust it off and read it from cover to cover in a matter of days. It is an absolutely fantastic read if you like warfare novels, and yet....
The entire premis of the story is fairly believable so I can run with the whole reason for WWIII, if not with a bit of a nagging doubt. I love the way the story moves from the intel, ground, air and navy theatres and it simply never gets boring. If youve ever played Harpoon (The naval sim) then the book is like that, multi dimensional (no ground war in early Harpoon though.)
However, I am no stranger to Russia or Russian people and sadly Mr Clancy seems to view them through the fog of the Iron curtain as a bit two dimensional. Some are no better than Bond villains, others are nicely presented with background info that brings them to life but they are simply too cliche. The frequent use of "comrade" is simply too much, I cant recall ever hearing anyone say the word in Russia in the late nineties without it being done tongue in cheek, its antiquated and reads as an anachronism. But forgivable as it merely reminds the reader of who the enemy is. The Brits say "old chap", the Germans throw in a "Ja" and so on. No-one is ordinary, even the weatherman officer from the USAF at Iceland ends up being some kind of GI Joe, killing people with a knife, falling in love with the girl he saves and yomping alongside Royal Marines, because he did some track running etc. Things just dont add up.
The first two thirds of the book are fantastic with NATO responding to Soviet tactics and gradually learning but war is not a simply act, react, learn, win scenario. The Soviets seem to keep using the same tactics, all the Russian subs do the wrong thing, turning into torpedoes, making daft mistakes etc. Some clever ones are thrown in for good measure but even they are finally brought to book. Two helicopters and two frigates kill several soviet subs in mid atlantic in a few hours. When the tides are reversed and several NATO subs go close in to the Soviet coast to launch missiles, one is slightly damaged and despite constant reminders of it being noisy and slow, nothing the Soviets do seems to come close to taking it out. The decks become so ludicrously stacked in NATO's favour, not by realistic means but just by a tap of the writers fingers. The number of "it just so happens" and "luckily", "but the Russian skipper made a simple error" and so forth (not verbatim but the gist of whats going on) always get me to the point that I am skipping a page or a paragraph and saying out loud, "Oh yeah right!! as if!" I'm British and to find myself by the last third of the book willing the Soviets to blow NATO subs out of the water, sink a few US hero's and blow the cack out of a few NATO divisions takes some goading! Why do I find myself rooting for the enemy? Because Mr Clancy cant help wrapping himself in the flag and swatting away any suggestion of reality. We are constantly reminded of things such as the danger of a small team moving around the countryside of Iceland with Russian patrols about, then a Russian outpost is crept by, a helicopter spotting a man and woman in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a war, merely hover over them and buy the ruse that they are lovers out doing a bit of fishing. NATO is down to its reserves and is stretched to breaking point, desperately needing reinforcements from the U.S, then the Germans miraculously counter attack with two brigades that seem to have been sneakily put on the advancing Soviet flank. Russian planes and helicopters are stealthily taken out by low flying, undetected phantoms, yet no explanation of how the Russians were spotted taking off and going nap of the earth. Abrams tanks take hits that bounce off, T80's brew up every time at the first hit. It becomes too much. The first clue I had that this was going to be a bit daft in parts was when a Spetznas officer is knocked down by a car, is seen to be taken away in an Ambulance and then spills the beans on where many commando groups will hit, where the safe houses are etc. He is seen to be knocked down and taken, as it were, by another commando who then appears to do nothing about it. Surely common sense at least would have a change of plan to negate any possible info spillage, if nothing less than a man babbling in Russian in his delirium whilst in Hospital. "Doctor, that bloke just talked in his unconcious delirium about being a command after an airfield." "Best call the cops." Ludicrous? Yes but still an appreciable risk for which surely the commandos would make steps to negate, just in case. But no, they stay in their safe house, the germans surround it, they make their move and are shot by a tank!
However, dont let it put you off as taken as a whole, if you can ignore the apple pie and uncle sam, the good old boy, the ja and comrade, the flag waving and the just so happens, then this is one absolutely cracking read. I heartily reccommend this book. Buy it. You will read it again and again. But occasionally you might throw it across the room.