4 out of 4 stars
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A rollercoaster ride of clashing moralities starting right from the Prologue, Jack Winnick’s East Wind brings alive conflicting views on terrorism and nationalism in a daring espionage thriller. Protagonists Uri Levin, a Mossad operative, and Lara Edmond, an FBI agent and computer specialist, are working against a dangerous timeline to use their specialized skills to uncover a terrorist plot in America and stop more tragedies before they occur. Do two agents stand a chance against the reach of the Hezbollah?
Meanwhile, through shifting viewpoints, the reader also has opportunity to see into the intricacies of the Islamic extremist revolution. Walid Jahangiri fell at a young age under the influence of the Hezbollah, the “Party of God” who seeks to end relationships between the U.S. and Israel. Now settled into Western culture, he is faced with new and conflicting morals. Where will his allegiances lie?
This novel is a well fleshed out and researched consideration of the tensions between the United States, the Islamic nations, and the Zionist state. The thing I liked most was that the narrator, while omniscient, was used to give insight into the lives and motivations of not only the protagonists, but the antagonists. The description of the indoctrination that young boys face to support Islam, seen through Walid’s eyes, is powerful to the point that I felt real nausea when reading it. The author captures the reality of the other side of terrorism in a fascinating, though albeit terrifying, way.
This gaze into the radical Islamic state was not only intense, it was well balanced too. The author has a whirlwind of action, romance, and both political and religious intrigue, but none of these are too heavy handed. This is largely because the author has fleshed out the characters to a point where, to me, they are very relatable to the reader as individuals. This allows the reader to get lost in their stories, both high points and low, without getting overwhelmed by one aspect alone. Because of this, I would recommend the novel to someone who may not be normally interested in political thrillers. The shifts in narration compliment this balance very well, and the book is a very quick read for its length. These positive aspects of the novel are what stick out and I am eager to read the sequel. For these reasons, I give this book 4 out of 4 stars; I wouldn’t give it any less because in its entirety is an intriguing, well thought out, well researched text.
I started this novel with only a vague knowledge of the tensions in the Middle East. After reading it, I am not only more emotionally connected with their causes, but also much more well informed in general. I would actually recommend this to others who haven’t had a lot of experience with this topic or this genre. As expected, this information was largely helpful in understanding and enjoying the book, and I’m glad the author took the time to educate the reader on the history of these political tensions. However, my least favorite aspect of this is probably the way Winnick lays this information out. There are times when it interrupts the story, giving background on some war or treaty, and the manner that it is done in feels jarring, like I am taken out of the plot for a history lesson. There may have been a more organized way to convey all the information he wanted to.
East Wind, 2nd edition
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