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Circle William Mass Market Paperback – January 30, 2001

38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Retired navy officer and ex-CIA man Harlow crafts a clever, well-plotted debut about two high-placed, competitive brothers whose complementary talents foil a Libyan attempt at germ warfare. Older brother Jim Schmidt happens to be White House press secretary, while his younger sibling, Bill, is captain of the U.S.S. Winston Churchill; their lives don't intersect as much as run parallel in alternating chapters. The Churchill and its crew have a cowboy reputation that is amply displayed in the opening chapters, so amply, in fact, that the reader might wonder whether all those hijacks have a point to them. When U.S. intelligence discovers that the Libyans are plotting a germ warfare strike on Israel, the news can't be released without prompting General Ghadafi to order another strike with a weapon that's already been smuggled into the country. This means that any attempt to stop a preemptive Israeli attack has to look like an accident?and thanks to a beautiful and determined reporter from the Washington Post, Sue O'Dell, Bill Schmidt and the Winston Churchill receive front-page press as an accident waiting to happen. Harlow expertly sets up the perfect ruse for an "accidental" shootdown of a Libyan jet (the title refers to a shipboard defense against radiation and chemical-weapons attack), while Jim's official involvement keeps the reader apprised of backstage maneuverings. Subsequent naval scenes vie with the White House settings for authenticity; there's an especially entertaining sequence about a media flap that occurs because somebody says the truth aloud. The plot takes several interesting turns before racing to a suspenseful climax. Despite characterization that some may consider naive(e.g., that there might actually be a reporter patriotic enough to put her country's best interests ahead of a story), Harlow offers a chipper, spirited first effort that augurs well for a new career. Agent, Sloan Harris.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

A retired navy captain and former White House press secretary (and now the CIA's director of public affairs) crafts a thriller featuring two brothersAa naval commander and a White House press secretaryAcalled upon to run a tricky operation.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket (January 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671020978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671020972
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.2 x 4.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,886,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By SRK on November 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I took the time to write this review because I thought the reviewer from Kirkus is way off base.
I READ A LOT. I bought this book at a dollar store for one dollar. That does not speak well for it. I bought it because it came well recommended from people who have been on the inside-- Navy Secretaries, Press Secretaries. They couldn't put it down.
I think it is the best piece of modern fiction I have read in a long time. It is funny. It is way beyond those Tom Clancy dreary soap operas where everyone has such cute, perfect and extremely well-documented lives. It is about PEOPLE who are well sketched (in a brief format of a 300-page novel). The story is just part of the lives of these people.
I think I know why this book has struggled. It is politically incorrect. He slams National Public Radio for being a bunch of windbags. Now, how are you supposed to get reviewed by effete pace setters if you slam them in your book? Also, Mr. Harlow makes the outrageous suggestion in 1999 that America could conceiveably come under attack by a bunch of crazed terrorists. Admittedly, this is far-fetched. At least it was far-fetched in 1999.
This is an outstanding work for a first novel, yea, a one hundredth novel. Note: it is not Henry James. Thank goodness, it is not Tom Clancy either.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Eric Parkinson on February 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It's amazing to me how a handful of major book reviewers with an attitude can affect the market's reception to an otherwise stunning work. It's hard for me to believe that the reviewer from "KIRKUS" and I read the same book called "Circle William." As a longtime fan of Tom Clancy, Michael Crighton and John Grisham, I'd like to think I have a nose for hugely commercial works. "CIRCLE WILLIAM" is the greatest undiscovered political-military-terrorist-White House-suspense thriller in the past ten years. Someone at Scribner Publishing has a great eye for talent with Bill Harlow. But someone in Scribner's publicity and marketing department should be reassigned to Libya for allowing this terrific read to end up on a "remainder's table" at [local store]. With the right marketing and publicity, this should have been one of the top ten bestsellers of 1999. If you ask me, I think some jealous and bitter wanna-be novelist at "Kirkus" unfairly excised their bile on this great novel, and this may have tempered the publisher's enthusiasm to support the book. What a shame for book consumers, and what a shame for Kirkus. Will somebody out there please get Bill Harlow to write another superb thriller?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By ANDREW W. OHARA on February 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Circle William by Bill Harlow is a riveting, fast paced, first-rate effort for a first novel. The heroes are heroic, the villains, villainous, and the good guys win. If you're looking for literature, search elsewhere, but if you want a few hours diversion in the company of some believable and developed characters acting out an intriguing story line, you've picked the right book. Clanceyesque is his attention to detail and technical expertise, Harlow weaves his action, adventure plot through the halls of the White House to the decks of a modern Aegis destroyer with agility. Reminiscent of the storytelling style of W.E.B. Griffin, he moves closer to Nelson DeMille in the quality of his writing. Intelligent, funny and respectful of his reader, Harlow avoids many of the pitfalls of modern fiction, one of which seems to be the required gratuitous sex sequence. He does set the stage for this standard cliche‚ but deftly lets the story carry itself away believably. All is not perfect in Circle William. Some of the characters are two dimensional - notably the Secretary of State and the Executive Officer of USS Churchill, both of whom fail to evolve into complete people. They seem to have no purpose other than the advancement of their own careers and the annoyance of everyone around them. Wait a second, I know those guys! Then we have CDR Jim Schmidt, an officer with whom most military guys would love to serve, but who would have trouble surviving in today's politically correct military with his crew of lively-but- lovable liberty risks more suited to McHale's Navy than to today's.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. N. Gaines on March 11, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book hoping for something along the lines of Tom Clancy. What I got was better. While Mr. Clancy has admittedly never been in the navy, and seems to get around that by sometimes excessive technical discussions, Capt Harlow needs no such artifice. We are introduced to the technology only on the level to which we require for the story. The characters, while they may seem outlandish, are very true to life. In fact, as a police officer in NYC, and having helped many sailors out of scrapes during Fleet Week, I can say that the liberty sequences, even though they seem outlandish, are dead on.
As far as the story, all I can say is, could be, very well could be. The premise is not out of the realm of possibilities, and Capt Harlow does NOT resort to "deus ex machina" solutions to plot problems. What happens could happen, and when it does you look at the book and think, "well, sure I can see that happening."
As far as the rest of the cast of characters, and the way that the Secret Service acts and would act in the face of a threat to the president, he hit that one on the head, dead on.
I recommend this book as a definate go out and buy.
Keep up the good work Captain, I await whatever you write next.
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