Red Storm Rising

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Tom Clancy, whose first novel, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, topped the bestseller list for seven months, here touches on a much more ambitious theme. In RED STORM RISING, only his second novel, he describes the cause, progress, and outcome of World War III. This is presented as a non-nuclear global war destroying everything that modern technology has to offer.

Clancy once again writes with what appears to be a vast knowledge of the world. His attention to detail has that ring authenticity that should delight the literary buff and war-game enthusiast. He is careful, however, not to lose the reader in too much jargon as he gives a vivid picture of what armed conflict would really be like in a world of missiles, stealth bombers, and computerized tanks and submarines. We follow a number of characters, both Soviet and NATO, in short alternating passages throughout the story. Alekseyev, the Soviet general, commander, Edwards, the air force meteorologist trapped behind enemy lines, and many others are well drawn. But once the war begins they are largely reduced to observation posts through which the author views all sides of the vast conflict he has created. Perhaps this is intentional, as in such a war personality is bound to be dwarfed by technology. At this rate, it is the war itself in all its phases and aspects that occupies the center stage. If the individual is not honorable, the character of the conflict itself certainly is. The culmination of the struggle is very exciting. Even those who say they don’t like war stories are going to be compelled to read to the end.