Jim Gilliam's Reviews > The Honor Of Spies

The Honor Of Spies by W.E.B. Griffin
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Aug 13, 2011

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Read in August, 2011

Great First Draft. Needs Editing!

Overall I liked the book. However, if it had been presented to a publisher without W.E.B. Griffin's name attached it would have been rejected as not being ready. I say this as a huge W.E.B. Griffin fan of many years. I have a problem with famous authors collaborating with unknown and untried authors. The first thing I wonder is just how much of this novel did Griffin actually write? The Traffickers was also in collaboration with William Butterworth. I bought it because I thought the majority of it was written by Griffin. I bogged down in it after about 120 pages and didn't pick it up again. I didn't review it because I didn't finish it. I know from my experience in publication in the scientific and medical communities that not everyone whose name is on the paper actually worked on it. Typically, the chairman of the department gets his/her name on it because he/she is the boss and it is a publication to his/her credit. And the chairman's name almost guarantees publication in a decent journal. This is not the only book that suffers from failing to achieve the standards normally expected of a particular author like W.E.B. Griffin. A while back I purchased a thriller by another author with a collaborator. Not a really good reading experience. I put it down after 34 or so pages.

Although Mr. Butterworth is an alleged editor this book really needs an independent edit by an unbiased editor. When we edit for ourselves we tend to be kinder and gentler than when we edit the works of others. After a real edit by an impartial editor this overly long book would be at least 150 pages shorter. The writing in this book points out several glaring mistakes that my editor would not have passed.

I thought it was the standard that once you introduce a character by name, you give his whole name and thereafter you refer to him by his last name. This book is replete with lengthy foreign names like: "Generalleutnant Graf Karl-Friedrich von Wachtstein" repeated ad nauseum. After repeating this mouthful for over 200 pages the authors did start refering to him as von Wachtstein. Such perversions slow down the storyline and cause the reader to start skipping to avoid falling asleep from boredom. There were also an overuse of foreign words. A conversation at a German embassy is presumed to be in German that, for the benefit of the English speaking reader has been translated into English. Why then on page 388 in a German conversation translated into English state, "Excuse me, Exzellenz . . ." instead of, "Excuse me Excellency"? These types of mistakes abound and it would take too long to list them all.

My final comment deals with research. When dealing with the character Lieutenant Pelosi the authors describe him on page 258 as wearing the "National Defense Service Medal and the medal signifying service in the American Theatre of Operations" on his uniform tunic. They go on to state that, "There was virtually no combat action in the American Theatre of Operations." Pure faulty research and inattention to detail. The American Defense Medal was established by FDR September 1939 and was superseded by The American Campaign Medal in December 1941. It was authorized as a ribbon ONLY until a full size medal was struck in 1947. The National Defense Service Medal was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. During the time frame of this novel General Dwight Eisenhower was the Supreme Commander Allied Forces Europe SCAFE. The American Campaign Ribbon/Medal was all about combat action in the Americas, especially regarding submarine warfare. Tankers were torpedoed within sight of the beaches of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Likewise, German U-boats were engaged on the surface and under by U.S. anti-submarine forces. Saying that, "There was virtually no combat action in the American Theatre of Operations" debases the service of thousands of American merchant mariners, Coast Guardsmen, and Navy personnel who made the supreme sacrifice for their country in the "American Theatre of Operations." Disrespecting our veterans is NOT what W.E.B. Griffin is all about. This was a huge faux pas that I'm sure if he caught it would have been edited out by Mr. Griffin. The sinking of a raider German supply vessel with a German U-boat moored alongside depicted in the preceding book in the series certainly qualifies as combat action in the Americas albeit in the neutral country of Argentina. If you are going to be specific in your literary descriptions you need to get it right.

Although I did like the book, it did not rise to the high standards of the previous book in the series, and that's too bad. A good professional independent edit would, in my opinion bring the book back up to the standard we've all come to expect from W.E.B. Griffin. This book is loaded with rookie writer mistakes that a seasoned writer like W.E.B. Griffin shouldn't be making at this stage in his career.

This is pure bait and switch, the reader buys the book hoping to read more Griffin; instead the reader is forced to read Butterworth. Griffin should have introduced him to his agent and publisher and had Butterworth submit his own work under his name alone. I've become jadded; I shall never read another work by a famous author with a colaborator. But then I might if it's someone like James Patterson.

Jim Gilliam
Author, Point Deception http://www.pointdeception.com
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Jeff Butterworth is WEB Griffin's son, I believe.

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