Where Eagles Dare

Title:                      Where Eagles Dare

Author:                  Alistair MacLean

MacLean, Alistair (1967).Where Eagles Dare. Garden City, NY: Doubleday

LCCN:    67020923

PZ4.M1626 Whe3


Date Updated:  October 14, 2015


It is really difficult for me to separate the book from the movie that was produced on the heels of the publishing of Where Eagles Dare. The movie shots—forbidding peaks, resourceful commandos, beautiful spies, nonstop action, and neck-snapping plot twists, made this book come alive for me. It is not usual for me that the movie creates more vivid images in my head that the book. However, this the classic adventure thriller certainly did that for me.

A team of British Special Forces commandos parachutes into the high peaks of the Austrian Alps with the mission of stealing into an invulnerable alpine castle—accessible only by aerial gondola—the headquarters of Nazi intelligence. Supposedly sent in to rescue one of their own, their real mission turns out to be a lot more complicated—and the tension climbs as team members start to die off, one by one.

This is vintage Alistair MacLean (who also wrote, The Guns of Navarone), the novel that set the pace for the film version, with Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. It still packs twice the punch of most contemporary best-selling thrillers. What’s more, the cast of spooks, turncoats, and commandos who drive this story are more relevant than ever in our new era of special forces, black ops, and unpredictable alliances.

MacLean did not maintain the quality of writing through the rest of his life, but I never found one of his books to be dull. I highly recommend reading, or rereading this one.

The White Tiger

Title:                      The White Tiger

Author:                  Robert Stuart Nathan

Nathan, Robert Stuart (1987). The White Tiger. New York: Simon and Schuster

LCCN:    87004320

PS3564.A8495 W4 1987


Date Updated:  October 8, 2015

Judging by this densely textured and exciting suspense novel, China after Mao is still a dangerous place to be, especially for those in power. I lived in China 1987-89 and can attest that nothing is what it seems to be. No one is secure in power, no matter at what level.

The book’s protagonist, Assistant Deputy Director for Public Security Lu Hong, is a high-ranking policeman of stubborn honest. He becomes suspicious of the circumstances surrounding the death of his esteemed mentor and boss, Sun Sheng, shortly before the Director of Investigations orders Hong to keep an eye on visiting American doctor (and purported spy) Peter Ostrander.

Hong investigates, unofficially and at growing personal risk, the mysterious death of his friend and mentor, while at the same time he is officially tailing a visiting American psychiatrist presumed to be a spy.

Hong’s investigations take him on a journey through the past that ends with his expose of treachery and crime among Mao’s closest associates, the “tigers” of the Revolution. The novel’s chief strengths are its intensely realistic depiction of a Beijing bureaucracy, wherein those with the strongest noses for “spiritual pollution” appear to be the most corrupt, and Hong himself, a sympathetic and credible figure caught in the toils of sordid events. Its weaknesses are a pedestrian style and characterization that, Hong aside, is somewhat lacking in depth and vibrancy

Sheng’s death inevitably ties in with the Ostrander case, as do many other people and events dating back to the early 1940s.