Williwaw is the debut novel of Gore Vidal, written when he was 19 and first mate of a U.S. Army supply ship stationed in the Aleutian Islands. The story combines war drama, maritime adventure and a murder plot. The book was first published in 1946 in the United States by E.P. Dutton. Williwaw is the term, widely thought to be Native American in origin, for a sudden, violent katabatic wind common to the Aleutian Islands.
The story is set on a U.S. ship in the Arctic waters around the Aleutians in the Pacific Ocean in the middle of the local storm season during WW2. The nervousness and tension of the crew and a handful of passengers at the approach of the williwaw is stretched to breaking point when a murder is committed on the ship.