By Order Of The President

W.E.B. Griffin has long been revered for his gritty military novels full of insider tales and technical detail of World War II, the Korean Conflict, and the Vietnam War. He paints his characters in fine strokes, and has more believable characters than most Hollywood movies. I have enjoyed his novels previously, including the “Brotherhood Of War” series.

In By Order of the President, Griffin takes his somewhat formulaic approach to military history fiction into the modern age of post 9/11 America. Whereas in his previous works there is no central protagonist, in this novel, there is. Major Charley Castillo is one complicated hero. He is the son of a Vietnam Medal of Honor recipient on his father’s side, with Tex-Mex roots that go back to the Alamo. On his mother’s side, his roots are strongly German. Is it any wonder the kid speaks five languages? Also, Major Castillo is a gentleman soldier, one who does it for patriotism, as he is independently wealthy. Just to make the Major one more step complex, he’s working for Army Intelligence the Department of Homeland Security, and has Secret Service credentials. This larger than life hero can also pilot both helicopters, and airplanes. This is one talented hero we want on our side!

In this first novel of his latest series, the plot focuses on a missing 727 aircraft in Africa. What follows is a harrowing “goose chase” by the US with efforts by various departments coming up short of finding the airplane. The President summons Castillo to cut through the red tape, unite the agencies, and most importantly, find the plane. In short, Castillo’s mission is to prevent “9/11 Part II.” The plot takes us across four continents in search of the 727, and we meet plenty of forgettable characters along the way.

Overall, I wanted to enjoy this novel, but it comes up short. The over 500 page tome, has enough plot only for about 300 pages. A fair chunk of the background gets revealed through long, and expansive flashbacks that sometimes get confusing. The characters are a little less real and believable than in his previous efforts. The novel starts and finishes well, but there is a long, and rather significant lull in the action, where nothing really gets developed. I honestly felt like the book needed some further work to bring it up to Griffin’s previous standards.

All right, enough procrastination for now, what’s the bottom line? If you’re a Griffin fan, and you want something more modern, give it a try, but be prepared to skim along for some of the slower chapters. If you haven’t read this author before, try some of his earlier works first, they are significantly better in this reviewers opinion.

Overall Grade: B-

Also reviewed by W.E.B. Griffin.

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