on 25 June 2002
I have just finished this book for the umpteenth time.
Forget the fact that the Soviet Union no longer exists, rewind your brain to a time when the threat was very real and saviour the exquisite storytelling.
Without having to wory about the threads that run through all of the "Jack Ryan", "Op-Centre" or other series, Clancy is free to concentrate all of his abilities on this one story. The action is fast flowing and the attention to procedure and detail is as accurate as ever.
For me personally, the strongest testament to this book is; even though I have read it several times, I still found myself unable to put it down at 03:00hrs and go to bed!
on 25 February 2005
Red Storm Rising broke new ground as it was the first time in literature that World War III was depicted without the use of nuclear weapons (though it comes close). This was the first Clancy book I ever read and I thought it brilliant. The characters are great, the battle scenes are vivid and tense, the intrigue well thought out.
The NATO-Warsaw Pact scenario has obviously dated, but there are moments in the book that betray its age - the F-19, speculation about the Victor-III subs pod, and the way the MiG-29s are described (the description is of the old artist conceptions before the plane was publicly unveiled). Being a Brit, I found the portrayal of the British characters were close to being comical and stereotypical. The same goes for the Norwegian sub captain, and French and German characters. The climax is pretty good, but it came across a little rushed.
Rather brilliantly though, the book, despite its mammoth length, rarely falters in pace. Just when it seems to be slowing down, we'll jump to another scene and it'll pick up again.
Personally I prefer this book to most of the Jack Ryan novels. I noticed some reviewers accused this of being jingoistic. There's no real flagwaving going on here, unlike the Ryan books. And the Americans aren't always perfect. One Admiral's arrogance results in the sinking of several ships including a French aircraft carrier, and the USS Saipan with 2000 Marines onboard. Later, "Beagle's" reported sightings of Soviet fighters on Iceland are registered as "unconfirmed" resulting in a disastrous bombing raid which sees several B-52s getting shot down by MiG-29s.
on 28 August 1999
I first read this many years ago and it is one of the only books I have read more than once. This is simply the best book I have ever read. Totally gripping and full of action but not devoid of interesting characters. The battle scenes kept me completely enthralled and the authors tactical descriptions are excellent (some may have been copied for use in real life conflicts). This war story is not all blood and gore. Clever tactical plays made by both sides aid the realism as does the occassional fall of luck. If you don't read anything else by Tom Clancy read this. I think I may just go and read it again!
on 2 January 2002
This book is simply the best thing I've ever read regarding possible WWIII scenarios. It describes in detail all the elements from politics down to military logistics, and not far sought either. Just read it, don't hesitate.
on 18 November 2006
I've read this book at least 5 times over the years. Granted i'm a big Clancy and technothriller fan but i've never come across another book to match this in this genre.
The premise (as you've no doubt read on other reviews) is that because of a terrorist attack the USSR is left with a huge energy shortfall so decides to take the power it needs. Basically this causes world war 3.
Mr Clancy has an undoubted plethora of knowledge concerning military tactics and technology and he puts this to good work in this novel.
You're taken across Europe, Iceland, parts of Russia, the Atlantic in these pages. You're presented with main characters in the theatre's of operation, both 'goodies' and 'baddies'. These characters are explained very well and you get to know them insomuch as to understand their drives and motivations.
One major thing i liked is that whilst USA forces take up most of the pages you're never left with the feeling that it's the usual "here we come to save the day" way of writing, the other allied forces arn't belittled and viewed as needing to be saved by America.
The battle scenes be it in the air, at sea or on the land are the best i've read from any author and i read a lot of technothriller books.
This is the best Clancy book out there by far.
Very much recommended.
on 1 November 2002
Red Storm Rising is, in my opinion, the best Clancy's book ever. The build-up of the plot, the tactical warfare depicted, the political intrigues and the gripping action will not let you put this book down easily.
The only annoyance I found is maybe too extensive description of the Iceland party voyage, but nonetheless the book is awesome. And don't be misled by the dissapearance of the USSR, the book is as readable now as it was when appeared.
I've read the book four times now, and every time I enjoy to find many "subplots" wavered into the story. Two thumbs up!
on 16 October 2003
Let's get one thing straight right away, shall we? There can be no ambiguity. Red Storm Rising is the best book of its type ever written.
It is not a pure technothriller. The Hunt for Red October (by Clancy) and The Flight of the Old Dog (by Dale Brown) are pure technothrillers, in that they run convergent with reality. They still make sense when viewed retrospectively.
Red Storm Rising is trapped by circumstance. World War Three never took place, so this a technofantasy rather than a technothriller. Having said that, this is a beautifully realised fantasy. There are the intricate machinations we have come to expect of Clancy. His understanding of the world he envisages would impress JRR Tolkien. But best of all, he never allows the larger ramifications of the war to eclipse the human tragedies of his protagonists.
Moving fluidly through a variety of theatres (Iceland, Germany, the North Atlantic, the Barents Sea) and a variety of warfighting scenarios, Clancy demonstrates a thorough understanding of his subject matter. He displays the same depth of knowledge one would of expect of an Ivy League professor, but he never allows us to be overwhelmed by the technicalities. In doing so he strikes the most delicate possible balance--he adds enough details to add verisimilitude, but not enough to swamp the streamlined lines of his plot.
Terry Pratchett has seen this as a weakness of the genre. He speaks of books 'a thousand pages thick and crammed with weapons specifications,' but Clancy enhances rather than detracts with his research. Although he has not always been successful (The Sum of all Fears springs immediately to mind) in this case he pulls it off magnificently. Two chapters in particular come to mind: 'The Frisbees of Dreamland' describes the first retaliatory NATO airstrike over Germany to destroy the bridges allowing the Russian advance; and 'The Dance of the Vampires,' which is probably the best piece of naval fiction written since Hornblower. It is worth saying that the scene in the film The SUm of all Fears in which the aircraft carrier is attacked is probably drawn from this chapter.
I mentioned earlier that Clancy's characterisation is particularly good in this novel. Again, two scenes come to mind. The moment on the USS Chicago where intelligence expert Bob Toland first realises what is going on, and the last stand of the Icelandic Marines as they shelter on their hilltop from Russian mortar-fire.
Red Storm Rising is the epic of the genre. It is probably the best war-story ever written. Would-be authors take note: these are the heights to dream of reaching.
on 16 July 2007
Put simply, in my opinion this is Tom Clancy's best book. If you're a fan of techno-war-thrillers, this is an outstanding example of the genre.
Many tales take you to the brink of global warfare then pull back at the last moment, but this story plunges you right into the unthinkable conflict that is WWIII. It is honestly the only book I've been so engrossed in during my commute that I've missed my stop for work on the train!
As another reviewer has pointed out, this is not a Jack Ryan novel. Having no Jack Ryan means there is no single focal point, but it is precisely for this reason that I feel this is Clancy's best work - the scene shifts effortlessly from one set of characters and confrontations to the next without having to pull back to Ryan's own moral compass. You also never know who is 'indespensible' and who is not - after all, while Jack Ryan is always in trouble, you know he's not going to be killed off don't you!
Red Storm Rising is a head-spinning, exhausting epic in the truest sense of the word. I can't believe they'll ever make a film of this, the scope is too grand and the detail too rich to be effectively transferred to screen. If you're a Clancy fan who hasn't read this, what are you waiting for? If you're not a fan, you may well be after reading this.
Let me make it clear that I am reviewing both the hard cover version of this book and the abridged audio cassette version. For long action novels, I often find the condensed version on an audio cassette preferable to the original. Red Storm Rising is the exception. The novel is much better and more enjoyable than the abridgement. This is also my favorite of the Tom Clancy novels, being slightly better than The Hunt for Red October in its story line and realistic plot details.
The book opens with a terrorist attack that cripples the economy of the Soviet Union. The leadership there chooses to believe that the West will devour the Soviets during this period of vulnerability, and the party leaders choose to launch an invasion of Europe. The real objective is to neutralize NATO so that the Middle East can be seized as a source of oil. Think of this as the 1980s update of the Japanese thinking during the 1930s about the importance of having assured supplies of raw materials and energy.
During the Cold War, published articles often focused on three primary risks that had to be overcome:
(1) That a weakened Soviet Union would decide to launch an offensive war to gain resources that its economic system could not provide.
(2) That a threatened Soviet Union would launch a first-strike nuclear attack.
(3) That the KGB and the Soviet Army would abuse their power and use war against the West to gain even more influence.
With the passing of time, we now know that although these were all potential risks, they were low-probability ones. The Soviets were not nearly as strong as the press and our government led us to believe in the United States. Also, they were more frightened of war, if anything, than the West was.
When this book came out in the mid-1980s, it provided valuable perspectives about whether or not the Western high-technology capabilities could counter much of the manpower strength of the Soviet Union, and the likelihood that there were reasonable people who opposed war in both the Soviet Union and in the West. Both perspectives turned out to have a great deal of truth in them. But they came as refreshing boosts for everyone's hopes for peace at the time.
Since there no longer is a Soviet Union, nor a Cold War, why should you read this book? I think the best reason is to understand the importance of placing limits on the power of those who can set war in motion. Also, one's enemies can be deterred by the risk they run by attacking you as much as by a real attack, as long as the risks to them are known. So appropriate levels of strength create the potential for diplomats to do their work.
For those who like battle stories, this one is quite interesting as in develops along the lines of what conventional war in Europe might have looked like in the mid 1980s. Several of the scenarios, such as an attack by the Soviets on Iceland will intrigue you and change your perceptions of geo-politics.
The technology side of the story is even more compelling and interesting than in The Hunt for Red October. You will witness potential uses of many of the weapons and systems that proved to be very important during the Gulf War, such as Stealth fighters, cruise missiles, and AWACs controllers.
After you finish reading this story, I suspect it would be a useful thing to try to come up with ways that the Cold War could have been ended sooner. What were both sides missing? How could the mutual distrust and misunderstanding have been dispelled sooner? The resources that went into weapons that were never used (thank goodness!) could have been far better employed in other ways.
May the peaceful intentions of the peace-lovers always be apparent and encouraging to all!
on 24 November 2000
I've read this over and over again and still find it a riveting read, even down to getting the maps out to study the scenarios as they unfold. GET THE BOOK - IT'S A MASTERPIECE! Mr Clancy is slowly but surely filling up my bookshelf. Here is story line that grips you from start to finish. You find yourself cheering when the 'enemy' gets hit and mad when they hit back. Somehow you wish it could be made into a film. Is there a computer game to go with this?
To finish off, this book is my No.1 favourite.