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Whirlwind (Asian Saga #5)

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,732 Ratings  ·  149 Reviews
Whirlwind is the story of three weeks in Tehran in February 1979: three weeks of fanaticism, passion, self-sacrifice and heartbreak. Caught between the revolutionaries and the forces of international intrigue is a team of professional pilots. Two of them have Iranian wives they love beyond safety and politics.
Paperback, 1343 pages
Published March 10th 1994 by Coronet (first published 1986)
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Jan 02, 2012 Matthew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

Since I was in high school, James Clavell has loomed largely among my guiltier pleasures. Somewhere circa age sixteen I plowed through Shogun and Tai-Pan one summer, and came away from them heady with Orientalism: because these books are, really, Orientalism at its pulpy contemporary finest (if that isn't an oxymoron). In them, the European hero is thrown into an exotic, spice-scented eastern culture where, through a combination of courage, canny and luck, he is embroiled in conspiracies, admitt
Mirjam Penning
Feb 15, 2014 Mirjam Penning rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: iran
I'm not quick at giving books five stars, but I feel this one deserved the best rating I could give. From beginning to end it was a wonderful read. I couldn't find any part that was boring, too detailed or bungled.
To be honoust, although it really were a lot of pages, I still felt I wanted to have more. It isn't a quick read, but I liked that as well.

A lot of characters played a role in the book. That could be a problem but in this case all of them were worked out well and came to life. The same
Jul 20, 2007 Finbar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
My least favorite of Clavell's novels, but still worth the read for fans of the Asia Saga. It is related but not, which bings up mixed feelings for me. It kind of feels like Clavell was using a familiar model to tell a modern tale, but that he had added it on after the story had already ended.

From the perspective that Shogun and Whirlwind are bookends on the story told in Tai-Pan, Gai-Jin, and Noble House this fits the bill. I think I would have preferred that Clavell use a different framework
Clews Gary
Nov 29, 2013 Clews Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OUTSTANDING ... all his books. Historical and cultutal insight of Japan, China and Persia (Iran). Story lines that weave within weaves ... crisp personalities of swashbuckling adventures of man's struggle against overwhelming odds ... faith hanging on a hope and a prayer.
Anyone looking for a riveting series of books ... James Clavell is your man.
A great loss to historical fiction upon his death.
Note - Mr. Clavell was, himself, a Japanese POW in in WWII. After the war, stuck in a slump looking fo
Jan 23, 2008 Chris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: absolutely no one
Whirlwind was absolutely horrid! Not only was the story out of focus; it was simply a complete mess of characters and settings. I thought this would be similar to his other fantastic stories, (Noble House, Tai-Pan), in quality of plot and character only to be sorely disappointed. I would not recommend this novel to an enemy!
Brian Poole
It took me years to be able to read Whirlwind.

It’s not that I was putting it off. James Clavell’s Asian Saga is one of my favorite book series ever. I started with Noble House and made my way through all the other entries over the years. The late British author did an amazing job of dropping his Western characters into an exotic Eastern milieu. Yet he never romanticized that kind of European incursion into Asia. His Asian characters were as complex and fully realized as his European and American
Timothy Dean
I was fortunate enough to be mentored and befriended by James Clavell, and value his work and opinions over many. Unfortunately, this was a departure for him, and my least favorite of his works.
Apr 05, 2011 Kelsey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was a little disappointed with "Whirlwind." While it's been years, I remember loving "Shogun," and thought I'd be wrapped up in this story as well.
This book was fine, simply OK, but it is hard to read a 1,000 plus page mediocre book.
Part of the problem for me was the characters. There were so many of them and and they all seemed so alike, it took several hundred pages before I could distinguish them. With so many characters we never really get to any of them that deeply and I never felt really
Apr 03, 2008 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone looking for a fictionalized account of Iran at the time of Ayatollah Khomeni's takeover
James Clavell portrays Iranians much in the same way that he portrays Asians - secretly devious. They all have three levels of beliefs, their public beliefs, their private beliefs which they share with those closest to them, and their real beliefs which they only think in their most secret hearts. When they gain a position of power and influence they all turn out to be quite devious and recalcitrant, no matter how sweet-natured and friendly they seemed before. As always Clavell's heroes are the ...more
Peter Kavanagh
Oct 30, 2013 Peter Kavanagh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clavell specialized in the epic and this book is epic in scale. Nevertheless, a good editor could have made all the difference with this book. Having said that, the book is largely successful in that it works as a thriller with great cliffhanger moments and tense action scenes. The moral universe is very black and white though. There could also have been a more realistic examination of the real reasons for the revolution. The right wing commentary on the British political scene was a bit patheti ...more
Jim Pozenel
Apr 21, 2010 Jim Pozenel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
King Rat and Shogun are two of my favorite books, so it's not as though I dislike James Clavell.

I couldn't finish this book. All of the male characters were so similar, it was difficult to distinguish one from the other. Every one them were ridiculously macho. I read well over 300 pages but felt no desire to return to the book. I donated it to Goodwill. I wouldn't pass it along to a friend. Dreadful book!
Apr 18, 2014 Dale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have thoughly enjoyed every James Clavell book I have read. This too, but about Iran this time, not the Far East.
Marat Beiner
May 29, 2016 Marat Beiner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's over.
It was probably my longest read ever, and not only because of the book's length, as I read a few books with similar length, but it was a difficult read as well.
In order to understand better what I read, I had to come back from 23% mark, and start reading it again.
The story itself was pretty good, but what made it difficult for me to read, is the multiple scattered characters, with multiple scattered and confusing story lines. I just couldn't make a connection between thos
Thomas Strömquist
Teheran 1979. Asia, yes, but the inclusion in the "Asian saga" is more due to the identity of the author than anything else. If "King Rat" is a bit of the odd one out, this is more of a sore thumb. But of course, that doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with the book. But the fact that it is by far the longest book I've ever finished even though it failed my "capture something of an interest at a hundred pages in"-rule does mean something. I put two stars, since I did finish it and, even th ...more
Apr 22, 2014 Brendan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Growing up, my father had a boxed set of James Clavell paperbacks on the shelf, consisting of Shogun, Tai-Pan, Noble House, and King Rat. Though I'd often read the books my father had after he had finished reading them (heavy on the Follett, Ludlum, Higgins, and Forsythe) I don’t remember giving the Clavell’s much thought or even picking them up, maybe just because they were so . . . big.

However, when I heard the much ballyhooed Shogun mini-series was coming to television, I thought I'd read th
Aug 20, 2011 Blair rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys historical fiction, anyone curious about how religion can mess up a good thing
While this novel didn't quite usurp Shogun as my favorite of the Asian Saga, it came pretty damn close by the end. The only reason it gets four stars is because of a very slow start and a few shaky points here and there. The entirety of Book Four was a great blend of intensity, suspense, heartbreak, and catharsis. If you've liked Clavell's other books, you'll like this one. If you've never read any of them but have an interest in historical fiction... read Shogun or King Rat first.

A major bit of
Nov 19, 2011 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of Clavell's books it has been my experience that this one is the hardest one to find in stores here in the US. Bad memories of the Iranian revolution maybe?

Whirlwind is classic Clavell, for all that means both good and bad. His hero's and villians were always incredibly macho, the action always intense, and the cast of characters enormous. As with his other books Clavell created an adventure story out of actual historical events, in this case the fall of the Shah and the rise of the Islamic Rev
Chris Fluit
Feb 23, 2015 Chris Fluit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-in-books
I finished re-reading the second of my four pillar books- favorite books that I re-read every 2 or 3 years. This was probably the 9th or 10th time I've read this one. It's amazing how you notice new things each time you read a book, even a book with which you're exceedingly familiar.

By the way, I highly recommend this novel to anyone- it's about a Scottish helicopter company in Iran during the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and it's fascinating to see how foreigners survive in a country that has su
John Kitcher
Clavell was about 70 when he wrote this. I can just imagine him sat in front of his type writer, cracking his fingers thinking how he's going to spend his next book-related income on a trip to Margate, some gingerbread, and the pools. The story is fragmented, with different characters in different locations involved in each chapter, bound together in a rush (with some sticky tape) at the end.

Usually Clavell is pretty good at wrapping things up and leaving you with a strong feel-good factor. The
Jul 30, 2014 Diane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Decades ago, I read Shogun (4 stars) and Tai Pan (3 stars), so I had pretty high expectations for this book. I generally love a well-researched, well-written historical novel with interesting characters and a good story.

I had to force myself through the first third of the book. I hoped it would pay off in the end, but it really didn't. There were so many different characters and story lines that they were hard not to forget after ensuing chapters. There was far too much detail about the SG Helic
Feb 11, 2010 Krista rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story of several British and American expatriots living in Iran in 1979, at the time of the return of the Ayatollah. Fascinating insights into the Iranian mindset. Suspensful storyline. 25 yrs later I still reflect on this book.
Jamie Sigal
Feb 24, 2015 Jamie Sigal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
**Puts book down**
**Lights fictional cigarette**
**Takes long luxurious drag**
**Sits back and basks in the afterglow**

Because that's how satisfied this book left me feeling.
Jun 15, 2009 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Middle East came to life for me in this book. Since I think I read it in about 1984 and it remains in my memory, it made a big impact on my cultural education.
Emily Williams
clavell is one of my favorite authors. whirlwind is a fascinating and timely drama set in the Iranian revolution
Paul Parsons
Book #5 in the Asian series, or so it claims. In reality, this one takes place in 1979 Iran shortly after the exit of the Shah and in the middle of the ensuing political chaos. It's only connection to Clavell's other four books is an occasional mention of the oil interest of the Noble House in Japan and Ian Dunross, the Tia-Pan. Clavell had learned to pilot helicopters prior to writing this novel and spent way too much time showing off this knowledge. The story is pertinent to today's Islamic te ...more
Sep 01, 2009 John rated it it was ok
This book continues the Noble House saga. I found it hard to stay with. I don't think I finished it.
Oct 30, 2012 Dpsroshan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historic-fiction
The author paints a magical story entwined in Iran, that is truly captivating like you lived through it.
Sep 14, 2011 Michaelbatte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As usual very informative while being suspenseful and entertaining - love all of his books
Mar 04, 2009 Cathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book seemed quite racist to me. I felt dirty reading it.
Jun 24, 2009 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Too shattered, too many characters and settings. Very, very bad.
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James Clavell, born Charles Edmund Dumaresq Clavell was a British novelist, screenwriter, director and World War II veteran and POW. Clavell is best known for his epic Asian Saga series of novels and their televised adaptations, along with such films as The Great Escape, The Fly and To Sir, with Love.


James Clavell. (2007, November 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
More about James Clavell...

Other Books in the Series

Asian Saga (6 books)
  • King Rat (Asian Saga, #1)
  • Tai-Pan (Asian Saga, #2)
  • Shōgun (Asian Saga, #3)
  • Noble House (Asian Saga, #4)
  • Gai-Jin (Asian Saga, #6)

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