Maggie's Reviews > Red Storm Rising

Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy
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really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, action-adventure, war

My relationship with this book got off to a bad start. I've never known much about or cared much for the Cold War, and while I read of the Russian Politburo plotting a way to seize oil from the Persian Gulf without incurring NATO opposition, I was wiki-ing terms like "KGB" and "Kremlin". Things didn't improve when the Russians failed to break up NATO, World War III started, and I was searching my dictionary for things like "fighter" and "carrier".

But 830 pages gives you a long time to learn, and within a few hundred pages, I was checking my dictionary less and enjoying the book more. Clancy is brilliant. Most fight scenes to me are boring, endless combinations of shooting, bombs and explosions. While most of Red Storm Rising was fight scenes, there was so much thinking go on that I never got bored waiting to see if a strategy would work, and I was continually surprised by unmentioned strategies that did work.

Clancy is not just smart, he's hardworking too. He clearly did his research, with lots of knowledge on war maneuvers, Soviet politics, war machinery, and everything else related to war. It amazed me when I realised that the ships he mentioned, like USS Pharris or HMS Battleaxe, really do exist in real life. The fact that he never let the war degenerate into a nuclear war, so common in 1980's fiction, allowed him to show off his knowledge of conventional weaponry and gave him control over the events so that they were always realistic.

It could have been difficult to manage the many groups of people and many places involved in a World War, but I felt that Clancy handled it quite well. As I've said, there were many well developed main characters, but all the other characters were identified by their roles rather than by name, helping me keep all the characters straight. Clancy also broke the book down into various small sections, a few paragraphs set in Germany, a few in Iceland, a few in Scotland, and so on, allowing him to continually update the reader on what was going on in each area and how different groups of people were cooperating - or not - with each other. The shortness of each section also made a long book easier to read.

While the book was largely technical, Clancy did not forget the human aspects of war, and there was just the right amount of humanity to be emotional without being unnecessarily tear-jerking. I also enjoyed how both sides were portrayed in a somewhat balanced manner. Sure, NATO were the good guys and the Russians were the bad guys, but Clancy was quick to note that not all Russians are bad, and even as I rooted for NATO and in particularly Ed Morris and Jerry O'Malley, I rooted for Alekseyev and the Sergetovs as well. In fact, characterisation was a strong point of the book. There were many characters, in keeping with the fact that the book was about a World War, but the main characters were all realistic people that I could feel for. That is, apart from Vigdis, a beautiful and courageous Icelandic girl, perfect in every way. Not all stories need a love interest, really.

It takes something extraordinary to make someone like me interested in a book about war, and Clancy clearly has that something extraordinary.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 30, 2011 – Shelved
May 30, 2011 – Shelved as: fiction
May 30, 2011 – Finished Reading
February 15, 2014 – Shelved as: action-adventure
February 15, 2014 – Shelved as: war

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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Harv Griffin Hey, Maggie! I like your review of RED STORM RISING. If you ever want a GoodRead's Friend, sign me up! @hg47

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