Victory and Honor


Title:                  Victory and Honor

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin

Griffin, W. E. B. (2011) and William E. Butterworth IV. Victory and Honor: An Honor Bound Novel. New York: Penguin.

ISBN: 978-0399157554

PS3557.R489137V52 2011

Acquired:                            2012

Finished Reading:            June 2, 2012

We pick up Cletus Frade’s story. World War II is almost at an end, and is over in Europe. Just weeks after Hitler’s suicide, Frade and his colleagues in the OSS find themselves up to their necks in battles every bit as fierce as the ones just ended. The first is political – the very survival of the OSS, with every department from Treasury to War to the FBI grabbing for its covert agents and assets. The second is on a much grander scale-the possible next world war, against Joe Stalin and his voracious ambitions. To get a jump on the latter, Frade has been conducting a secret operation, one of great daring-and great danger-but to conduct it and not be discovered, he and his men must walk a perilously dark line. One slip, and everyone becomes a casualty of war

The Outlaws


Title:                      The Outlaws

Author:                   W. E. B. Griffin

Griffin, W. E. B. (2010) and William E. Butterworth IV. The Outlaws: A Presidential Agent Novel. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

LCCN:    2010032234

PS3557.R489137 O88 2010

Summary

  • Charlie Castillo’s secret unit has been disbanded, but that doesn’t mean he’s out of business. A FedEx package arrives, bearing photos of barrels containing some of the most dangerous biohazard materials on Earth, all of which were supposed to have been destroyed during a raid on a secret Russian factory in the Congo. Who has them, and what do they want? Castillo has a feeling he’s not going to like the answers.

Subjects

Date Updated:      November 2, 2015

I like Griffin novels. That is, I like novels written by W. E. B. Griffin, period. I don’t find his collaborative novels, such as this one with his son, all that good. I suspect that Griffin wrote the outline (maybe with collaboration) and that Butterworth filled in the story, maybe with changes suggested by Griffin. At any rate, this book cannot measure up to the quality of Hostage, the first in this series.

In Griffin and Butterworth’s sixth presidential agent thriller (after Black Ops), the U.S. president has ordered Lt. Col. Carlos “Charley” Castillo to disband his secret organization, the Office of Organizational Analysis, and to “fall off the face of the earth.” Charlie Castillo’s secret unit has been disbanded-but that doesn’t mean he’s out of business.

When the president dies of a ruptured aorta, Charley elects instead to reorganize his outfit. As experience has painfully shown him, there are many things the intelligence community can’t do, won’t do, or doesn’t do well, and he has the people and assets to help set things straight.

The first opportunity, when it comes, is shocking: A FedEx package arrives, bearing photos of barrels containing some of the most dangerous biohazard materials on earth, all of which were supposed to have been destroyed during a raid on a secret Russian factory in the Congo. Who has them, and what do they want? Castillo has a feeling he’s not going to like the answers.

Castillo soon becomes entangled in intrigue involving several barrels of virulent biological weaponry and a demand from Vladimir Putin to return the two Russian spies who defected in Black Ops. The new U.S. president, who hates Charley’s guts, wants to turn him over to Putin along with the two defectors. Charley and his intrepid gang engage in meticulous planning, fill in the backstory, banter among themselves, and fly around in exotic planes. Series fans who love these characters will find the novel fulfilling; newcomers and those expecting a big payoff will be disappointed. I am increasingly disappointed with the “contributions” that Butterworth appears to be making. It just isn’t the old Griffin whose books I have really enjoyed.

The Hunters


Title:                      The Hunters

Author:                  W. E. B. Griffin

Griffin, W. E. B. (2006). The Hunters (A Presidential Agent Novel). New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

LCCN:    2006037462

PS3557.R489137 H68 2006

Subjects

Date Updated:  October 28, 2015

I like most of Griffin’s work and believe that it is definitely better when he wrote it alone than when he collaborated with his son, Butterworth.

This is the third book in the Griffin Presidential Agent series. It centers around Homeland Security. I have read comments that Griffin’s books are boring because there is so much dialog and the action moves slowly. I disagree. His facility with dialog makes the book move, develops characters as well as suspense. It continues where The Hostage finished, but it seems to move at an even faster pace, which I enjoy.

Carlos Castillo continues to build his team with the best people he can find, from the various intelligence agencies, as well as the military. I love this aspect of his books, because it is so much like true life, where people progress in their careers, or die, and new people join the team. But as usual I am a bit bothered by the omniscient leader and several other characters who speak several languages with facility – Hungarian, Russian, Spanish, German, all with perfect fluency.

The hunt for the bad guys crosses international boundaries, proving that today’s intelligence operatives need to be multi-lingual and very intelligent. An agent who only speaks English is no longer an effective agent against international terrorists. Hungarian, Russian, German, Spanish and English were the languages for most of this operation. German, Spanish, and obviously English do have a basis in reality for him. I’ve studied Russian and Hungarian seems to be from another world. To develop perfect fluency while being a serving military officer just is a stretch. It seems unrealistic to me that Castillo could have developed facility in all these languages.

The characters are multifaceted and certainly not stereotypical. You have to read to the end, to find out who all the good guys and bad guys really are. Carlos Castillo and his growing band of experts move from country to country, progressing through firefights that reveal bad guys at the highest levels.

As with any Griffin book, the winners are the people who have both the intelligence to analyze complex data, and the strength of character to act on it. In addition to people with military and intelligence skills, Castillo’s team now has: a financial analyst (with the financial and computer expertise to track billions of dollars through the labyrinth of secret international bank accounts); a newspaperman (with the instincts and contacts to uncover bad guys at the highest levels); and Max (who can actually smell bad guys).

For me, this book was as exciting and fast moving as Mr. Griffin’s books on WWII and Korea, with so much action that you feel like you are in the middle of a declared war. I recognize that there are others who disagree with me on this. I suppose that’s part of the reason I know of no movie made from a Griffin book. I wish there were.

This new series continues to highlight Griffin’s contacts with, and knowledge of, the modern military and intelligence communities. Although he points out some infighting between government agencies, he also points out that there are good people in every agency, and if they work together, they can stop the bad guys. This I really like. I served in military intelligence, and NO, it is not an oxymoron. Most of the people I worked with were apolitical and great patriots, working make the country better. I am disgusted with people who constantly belittle our government.

The book deals with heroes from Homeland Security, the Diplomatic Corps, the FBI, the CIA, Special Forces, and other US military units, as well as like-minded patriots in Argentina, Germany and Uruguay.

WEB Griffin is truly the dean of American military story tellers, and this book reveals his understanding of the complex relationship that exists between various intelligence organizations, as well as the military.

This is the audio version of The Hunters, read by Jay O. Sanders. It is abridged, but being on 16 CDs it doesn’t seem to have much of it cut out. I read the print version before listening to the audio version (on a very long trip to Colorado). One should give due credit to Jay Sanders who read this novel for the audio version[1]. He did very well with accents, giving life to words on the page. I heard only one mistake on the entire 16 CDs. Once he referred to the OOA as the Office for Operational Analysis (instead of Organizational). I know that these performers are not paid well for their work, but maybe they should be. He did a fantastic job.

[1] New York: Penguin Audio. ISBN: 978-0143059196

 

Behind the Lines


Title:                  Behind the Lines

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin

Griffin, W. E. B. (1995). Behind the Lines. New York: Jove Books

LCCN:    95032133

PS3557.R489137 C68 1990 bk. 7

Subjects

Date Updated:  June 14, 2015

Griffin’s seventh novel in The Corps series (after Close Combat) continues the author’s breezy look at the Marine Corps during WWII. I have enjoyed all the Corps series, becoming a fan of Ken McCoy from the first book. This book’s story line concerns guerrilla warfare activities in the Philippines and the story of Wendell Fertig. Fertig is a historical character, and never received his due from McArthur.

Here, he uses guerrilla action behind the lines in the Philippines as foreground to tell the behind-the-lines tale of the power struggle among Marine General Fleming Pickering, General Douglas MacArthur and Bill Donovan of the fledgling OSS, all of whom are galvanized into action by a radio message from a self-proclaimed general named Wendell Fertig, who has established himself as a guerrilla leader against the Japanese.

Griffin seems to be stuck on a stereotype character in every novel. The stereotype is a wealthy man with an enormous set of skills. He sees things more clearly than almost everyone else. Whatever called on to do, he finds a way to do it. The plutocrat stereotype always drinks Famous Grouse and has a direct connection to the president. McCoy doesn’t fit this model, but Fleming Pickering certainly does. In this novel Pickering has become the central character. It bothers me not a little that in an action book it’s only the rich high-born conservative who saves the day.

Mc Coy is the consummate Marine, the ultimate real fighter, who can carry out the mission whatever the odds. So why isn’t McCoy getting promotions as quickly as the others? “Pluto” went from 1st Lieutenant to major in one page, while with all that Ken is doing he finally gets promoted to Captain. By the way, McCoy’s favorite food seems to be steak and eggs for breakfast.

In the Philippines Fertig is trying to maintain a guerilla operation, hindered by the denial by McArthur that there is any guerilla operation at all, much less a “Fertig.” As far as the Marines are concerned, they go in after having received a message from Fertig. Once the message is verified, a team of men with supplies will be sent in to evacuate any sick or wounded and evaluate Fertig as a potential leader. Complicating matters, however, is MacArthur’s public declaration that guerrilla activity on the Philippines is impossible, and therefore nonexistent, and Bill Donovan’s desire to get the operation under OSS control.

When one reads enough Griffin it is clear what his political views are. One cannot fault him for giving due credit to the bravery and skill of the Marines, and certainly McArthur was an egomaniac. Griffin credits covert operations, particularly run by the OSS, as central to victory in the Pacific. He may be right.

Focusing on a variety of characters involved in the proposed mission, Griffin tells this story with his usual attention to dialogue rather than description, relying frequently on his favored device of moving the plot along through copies of memos, radio messages and telegrams. The boy’s club aura of Griffin’s primarily male world, where everything, even death, seems clear, sunny, bright and uncomplicated, is in full force here; and that should please his fans just fine.

 

The Double Agents


Title:                  The Double Agents

Author:                 W. E. B.Griffith

Griffith, W. E. B. (2007) with Butterworth, William E. IV. The Double Agents .New York: G.P. Putnam’s and Sons

LCCN:    2007011993

PS3557.R489137 D68 2007

Subjects

Date Updated:  June 18, 2015

In April 1943, Spanish sympathizers discover the body of Major William Martin of the British Royal Marines in waters off the coast of Spain. The remains contain a parcel of letters, both personal and top secret. Unknown to the Spaniards who find the body is its bizarre history prior to the man’s demise. Certifying that the Major carried important papers to the German and Italian war effort, the information is passed to those directly involved. Certain that Allied forces plan a massive attack on Sicilian and Italian shores, Hitler’s generals concentrate troop strength on the Italian front.

W. E. B. Griffin co-authors with his son, William E. Butterworth IV, a sixth Men at War novel, titled The Double Agents. Midway through World War II, the British and American OSS (Office of Strategic Services) devise the elaborate ruse to confuse German planners. Prior to the body’s discovery near Huelva, OSS Major Richard “Dick” Canidy, working out of Algiers, carries out a daring attack on a German supply boat disguised as a fishing vessel. Canidy is the OSS hero from the previous Men at War books. He’s good-looking, the picture of an American playboy type, but hard as rock when called upon by the President for his top-secret mission.

An Italian scientist named Dr. Rossi has proof that the Germans have infected prisoners with Yellow fever. In addition, Canidy has blown up the boat that contains Tuban, a dangerous nerve gas slated for use against the Allies. From Algiers, his mission is to determine if the gas has sunk or burned in the fire. If burned, the gas can cause savage injury and many deaths.

Canidy’s interaction with those under his command in the mission is a fun read. One minute he’s the no-nonsense commander, the next he’s concerned for their safety. Canidy manages a sense of humor underneath the serious planning, plotting and commission of his orders. He works closely with an Italian Mafia native Sicilian to gain access to the Island. Lucky Luciano, from an American prison, has linked the OSS with Frank Nola, the local Mafioso. His contacts on Palermo help Canidy’s plan, but Dick is acutely aware that Nola’s motives may endanger the entire effort. Tubes, a young California surfer, operates the radio equipment necessary to their success and survival.

Meanwhile, Griffin and his son develop numerous chapters about the dead Major Martin’s identity. Based on the fact that David Niven, Peter Ustinov and Ian Fleming served as officers in the British military services, the authors write a hilarious scenario whereby these famous men, along with OSS Lt. Charity Hoche and others, craft a cadaver’s identity. The Hollywood personalities, complete with alcoholic tendencies, round out a voluminous cast of characters in The Double Agents.

The story is based on a true event – the dead body’s discovery by the enemy. While the majority of Allied troops fought in the deserts of Africa, a covert operation is carried out in Sicily. The history presented in The Double Agents is a reminder that war is horrific theater. Without dedicated agents such as the fictional OSS characters depicted on its pages, novels like this one would merely entertain.

The Saboteurs


Title:                  The Saboteurs

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin

Griffin, W. E. B. (2006) and William E. Butterworth, IV. The Saboteurs. New York: Jove Books

LCCN:    2006043222

PS3557.R489137 S23 2006

Subjects

Date Updated:  June 18, 2015

The Saboteurs is a compelling story based on real tales from World War II and is dedicated to tthe memories of those who fought there, especially the Marines. W.E.B. Griffin and his son, William E. Butterworth IV, have collaborated on a fast-paced novel about the heroes of World War II, a return to the popular Men at War series. “Wild Bill” Donovan is the head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and has the job of networking his agents to the best of their abilities. The action moves around the world, in chronological order of events, from Sicily, London, New Jersey, Texas, Oklahoma, New York and Algiers. Major Richard M. Canidy is the first agent Donovan has to reign in from overzealous proceedings in his recent past. Canidy went solo on a mission to Hungary and now must face the consequences for his rogue actions.

Timing is important in February 1943. German U-boats have sneaked into Atlantic waters, wrecking havoc close to American shores. Highly trained, Hitler’s SS units have been successful in landing agents in the United States to detonate bombs in areas of high civilian concentration. These enemy saboteurs will make their presence known and instill fear in the public. Canidy, his boyhood friend Eric Fulmar, and agent Stan Fine have been called in by Donovan to locate and eliminate the suspected saboteurs. Canidy’s summons, however, carries the undertone of rebuke for his Hungarian escapade. Canidy fully expects to be assigned a desk or, worse, to be fired. But Donovan has a different agenda for his rogue agent.

The authors profile real personalities of the times, alongside their fictional agents, to bring the reader directly into the story. The well-documented rivalry between FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and the OSS office is on display in The Saboteurs. Hoover soft-pedals the explosions on American soil to contain terror in the public. Hoover’s harassment of citizens with possible anti-government sympathies is played against the tactics of the OSS, a direct-action approach. An FBI agent suffers embarrassment by Fulmar’s superior physical ability in one comical scene.

Canidy’s assignment is to invade German-occupied Sicily and to evacuate a scientist, Dr. Rossi, whose life is in danger. The doctor’s colleagues have been infected and murdered with a deadly Yellow Fever virus. Before Rossi is deposed likewise, his brilliant mind can be used against the Germans; he has knowledge about developments in atomic fission.

Canidy finds himself aboard a vessel owned and navigated by mobsters from New Jersey, fishmongers who conceal illegal activity by legitimate business on the Atlantic loading docks. These Mafia personalities are well-developed characters and do elicit sympathy during the read. The mob’s heyday is colorfully drawn, with historical accuracies about well-known, incarcerated mobster leaders. Canidy is at their mercy in order to land successfully on Sicilian shores.

 

The Fighting Agents


Title:                  The Fighting Agents

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin

LCCN:    99051764

PS3557.R489137 F54 2000

Subjects

Date Updated:  June 19, 2015

The Fighting Agents takes place in The Philippines, 1943. As the ragged remnants of the American forces stand against the might of the Imperial Japanese Army, a determined cadre of OSS agents becomes their only contact with the outside world-and their only hope for survival.

General Douglas McArthur declared after the fall of the Philippines in 1943 that there were no guerrillas in the Philippines. However, Wendell Fertig, a U.S. Army officer who refused to leave, knew better. Fertig promoted himself to general and led a guerrilla force against the Japanese. This time, however, Griffin focuses his attention on the OSS, which, among other things, was tasked with resupplying Fertig and bestselling reinforcing his efforts to undermine the Japanese war machine. This fourth volume of the Men at War series features the American intelligence service during World War II. James Whittaker, a rakish, romantic army air corps captain, who happens to be a close family friend of OSS chief Wild Bill Donovan, is assigned to sneak into the Philippines by submarine and bring gold, arms, and war materiel to the renegade general.

Simultaneously, another OSS team tries to carry out a critical mission: getting a German atomic scientist out of Budapest and into allied hands before Hitler’s armies can perfect and unleash the weapon that could win the war for the Axis powers. And in Cairo, a quiet, unassuming pilot named Darmstadter is drafted by the OSS for another highly unlikely mission. Griffin spices up his realistically drawn scenes of military operations, weapons, and training with a somewhat improbable love story focusing on Whittaker and a female OSS operative, but one suspects it’s merely a ruse to draw in women readers. Still, the action ranges from Washington to California, Egypt to London, and all points in between, and Griffin’s knowledge of military hearts, minds, and missions has won him a devoted following. I have lost track of how many Griffin books I have read.