Black Order (Sigma Force Series)

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"A sinister fire in a Copenhagen bookstore ignites a relentless hunt across four continents. Arson and murder reveal an insidious plot to steal a Bible that once belonged to Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory. And Commander Gray Pierce dives headlong into a mystery that dates back to Nazi Germany ... and to horrific experiments performed in a now-abandoned laboratory buried in a hollowed-out mountain in Poland." "A continent away, madness ravages a remote monastery high in Nepal, as Buddhist monks turn to cannibalism and torture.
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Overview

"A sinister fire in a Copenhagen bookstore ignites a relentless hunt across four continents. Arson and murder reveal an insidious plot to steal a Bible that once belonged to Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory. And Commander Gray Pierce dives headlong into a mystery that dates back to Nazi Germany ... and to horrific experiments performed in a now-abandoned laboratory buried in a hollowed-out mountain in Poland." "A continent away, madness ravages a remote monastery high in Nepal, as Buddhist monks turn to cannibalism and torture. Lisa Cummings, a young American doctor investigating the atrocity, is suddenly a target of a brutal assassin working for clandestine forces that want the affair buried at any cost. Lisa's only ally is a hidden pilgrim, Painter Crowe - director of SIGMA Force, an elite command of American scientists and Special Forces operatives - who is already showing signs of the baffling malady that destroyed the minds of the monks." Now it is up to Gray Pierce to save both Painter and Lisa - and a world in jeopardy - as SIGMA Force races to expose a century-old plot that threatens to destroy the current world order ... and alter the destiny of humankind forever.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
In this high-octane thriller by James Rollins, an elite special ops unit is faced with solving a mystery shrouded in the mists of time: one that could save -- or completely destroy -- humankind.

Sigma Force is a covert group of military scientists overseen by the Department of Defense's research and development wing. Led by former Navy SEAL Painter Crowe (the hero of 2004's Sandstorm), members of the counterespionage team are scattered all over the world on individual missions. Grayson Pierce is in Copenhagen, following up a tip about an increase in black market sales of Victorian-era documents, including a Bible once owned by Charles Darwin. Crowe witnesses firsthand an outbreak of plague in a Himalayan monastery that drives peaceful monks to butcher one another. Scrawled on the walls in blood is a series of strange runes -- and carved into the head monk's chest is a swastika. Meanwhile, on a sprawling estate in South Africa, a sinister program begun during WWII is about to be unleashed upon the world…

Rollins's previous thrillers (Map of Bones, Sandstorm, Ice Hunt, et al.) have been likened to the Indiana Jones movies for good reason -- scientific adventurers risking life and limb in exotic locales to locate and/or unlock arcane knowledge -- and Black Order is no different. Incredibly fast-paced, centered around intensely controversial subject matter (the origins of life and theories of evolution), and featuring enough cryptic codes, secret societies, and historical conspiracies to satisfy the most fanatical Da Vinci Code fan, this high-octane thriller (which subtly blends elements of historical fiction and science fiction) practically demands to be read. It's quite possibly Rollins's best work to date. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly
What would thriller writers do without the Nazis? At the start of Rollins's inventive eighth Sigma Force novel, a secret experiment is smuggled out of Berlin in the waning days of WWII. While the Americans have been working on the atomic bomb, the Nazis were delving into the paradoxical tenets of quantum mechanics. In the present day, descendants of Heinrich Himmler are trying to create a new race of Aryan supermen. Last seen in 2005's Map of Bones, Painter Crowe and Grayson Pierce, employees of Sigma Force, a secret arm of the U.S. military, venture to the brink of death to puzzle out mysteries that encompass the theories of evolution, intelligent design, and the physical and spiritual nature of love and God. It's a tall order, but every time the author appears to have stretched too far, he saves the read by throwing in a fascinating scientific or historical fact, plus a scene of heart-pumping action. This is Cussler and Ludlum territory with a dash of Dan Brown, sure to please devotees of any of these authors. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Ancient philosophies clash with major scientific discoveries in Rollins's (Map of Bones) latest adventure, which tackles the debate over intelligent design. A mysterious plague in the Himalayas sends medical doctor Lisa Cummings to a monastery where all of the monks have died. There she meets the director of Sigma Force a covert arm of the Department of Defense who has been exposed to the disease but is still alive. Meanwhile, when another Sigma Force operative helps a teenage girl in possession of Charles Darwin's Bible, they both become the target of assassins who want the notes scribbled in the margins. These notes will tie in to the disease at the top of the world Mt. Everest and a conspiracy that began at the tail end of World War II. All of these diverse elements blend seamlessly in Rollins's hands. Readers will eagerly await the fourth "Sigma Force" installment. For all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/06.] Jeff Ayers, Seattle P.L. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060765378
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/29/2007
  • Series: Sigma Force Series , #3
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

James Rollins

James Rollins is the New York Times bestselling author of international thrillers that have been translated into more than forty languages. His Sigma series has been lauded as one of the "top crowd pleasers" (New York Times) and "hottest summer reads" (People magazine). In each novel, acclaimed for its originality, Rollins unveils unseen worlds, scientific breakthroughs, and historical secrets—and he does it all at breakneck speed and with stunning insight.

Biography

James Rollins is the New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of Black Order, Map of Bones and other adventure thrillers. He was born in Chicago and grew up in Ontario, Canada, and St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated with honors from the University of Missouri with a degree in veterinary medicine. And like most veterinarians, he presently shares his home with a Golden Retriever, a Dachshund, and a sixty-five year old parrot named Igor. Rollins currently practices in Northern California, and when not writing or working in his veterinary practice, he can often be found underground or underwater as an amateur spelunker and scuba diver. These hobbies have helped in the creation of his earlier books Subterranean, Deep Fathom, Amazonia, and Sandstorm. His thriller, Black Order, skyrocketed to the top of bestseller lists across the country, winning the author countless new fans, and was proclaimed by People magazine as one of last summer's "hottest reads." Map of Bones was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the most likely to win over Dan Brown's faithful audience, and the New York Times rated the book as one the summer's top crowd pleasers.

Author biography courtesy of HarperCollins.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Rollins:

"I often get asked if I still practice veterinary medicine. While I don't practice full-time, I still do volunteer. I work with a group that traps stray cats, brings them to the shelter, where I spend a day spaying and neutering them. It's basically eight hours of removing genitalia. It's a hobby."

"I am a TV junkie. I have two Tivos and they are constantly full."

"My first job was to flip pizzas. I once got a pie spinning that was ten feet across. I had to spin it on my back to keep it going. Yet, I still love pizza."

"Two hobbies I love -- caving and scuba diving -- are also essential research for my novels. Case in point:

I've always been an avid cave explorer, from the vast systems in Missouri to the lava tubes of Hawaii to the tighter squeezes of the California foothills. But one of my most frightening episodes also allowed me to better describe claustrophobia in my novels. While climbing out of the fairly technical wild cavern, involving lots of rope work, I managed to jam myself midway up a narrow vertical chute. Hung up on my ascending gear midway up the chute, I found myself unable to move up or down. My chest was squeezed between two walls, my left knee turned the wrong way. I could not maneuver, and there was not enough room to get a rescue climber to me. I was trapped. I remember the team leader, leaning down from above, shining his helmet lamp at me. ‘You either find a way to un-jam yourself, or you stay there forever.'

So over the course of a long hour -- wriggling, sweating, cursing, and clawing -- I managed to creep a millimeter at a time out of the jam. After this event, I had a better understanding for panic and the determination born of pure desperation, essential ingredients for to writing thrilling fiction.

But spelunking through caves was not my only ‘research' lesson. Two decades ago, I also took up scuba diving and went on dive trips all around the world: Monterey Bay, Hawaii, South Pacific, Australia. I particularly remember one trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. I was informed by the dive master to beware of the many hazards found in the region. ‘On land, Australia has seven of the ten deadliest snakes. The seas are worse. Box jellyfish can kill in minutes. Local sea snakes are some of the most toxic. But worst of all is the stone fish. It looks like a stone, but its spines are loaded with paralytic poison. So be careful what you touch.'

And down we all went, buddied up in pairs, enthusiastic and excited. I dropped toward the reef and adjust my buoyancy until I'm floating just above the reef. All around spread amazing sights: giant clams, a flurry of colored fish, an astounding variety of coral. But I miscalculated my buoyancy, my weight shifted, and I planted a hand into the sand to stabilize my tumble, careful of the razor-sharp coral. Inches from my thumb, a jagged rock suddenly sprouted fins and swam away. I met the gaze of my buddy diver. His wide eyes firmed up the identification. The deadly stone fish. And I had almost slapped my hand on its back. As the fish scurried away, I understood at that exact moment how little Nature cared about the life of a scuba-diving novelist. Down here, Nature ruled. We were only visitors.

This mix of respect and terror is brought to life in my latest novel, The Judas Strain."

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    1. Hometown:
      Sacramento, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 20, 1961
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois

Read an Excerpt

Black Order

A Novel
By James Rollins

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 James Rollins
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060763884

Chapter One

1945
May 4
6:22 A.M.

Fortress city of Breslau, Poland

The body floated in the sludge that sluiced through the dank sewers. The corpse of a boy, bloated and rat gnawed, had been stripped of boots, pants, and shirt. Nothing went to waste in the besieged city.

SS Obergruppenfuhrer Jakob Sporrenberg nudged past the corpse, stirring the filth. Offal and excrement. Blood and bile. The wet scarf tied around his nose and mouth did little to ward off the stench. This was what the great war had come to. The mighty reduced to crawling through sewers to escape. But he had his orders.

Overhead the double crump-wump of Russian artillery pummeled the city. Each explosion bruised his gut with its concussive shock. The Russians had broken down the gates, bombed the airport, and even now, tanks ground down the cobbled streets while transport carriers landed on Kaiserstrasse. The main thoroughfare had been converted into a landing strip by parallel rows of flaming oil barrels, adding their smoke to the already choked early morning skies, keeping dawn at bay. Fighting waged in every street, in every home, from attic to basement.

Every house a fortress.

That had beenGauleiter Hanke's final command to the populace. The city had to hold out as long as possible. The future of the Third Reich depended on it. And on Jakob Sporrenberg.

"Mach schnell," he urged the others behind him.

His unit of the Sicherheitsdienst -- designation Special Evacuation Kommando -- trailed him, knee-deep in filthy water. Fourteen men. All armed. All dressed in black. All burdened with heavy packs. In the middle, four of the largest men, former Nordsee dockmen, bore poles on their shoulders, bearing aloft massive crates.

There was a reason the Russians were striking this lone city deep in the Sudeten Mountains between Germany and Poland. The fortifications of Breslau guarded the gateway to the highlands beyond. For the past two years, forced labor from the concentration camp of Gross-Rosen had hollowed out a neighboring mountain peak. A hundred kilometers of tunnels clawed and blasted, all to service one secret project, one kept buried away from prying Allied eyes.

Die Riese . . . the Giant.

But word had still spread. Perhaps one of the villagers outside the Wenceslas Mine had whispered of the illness, the sudden malaise that had afflicted even those well outside the complex.

If only they'd had more time to complete the research . . .

Still, a part of Jakob Sporrenberg balked. He didn't know all that was involved with the secret project, mostly just the code name: Chronos. Still, he knew enough. He had seen the bodies used in the experiments. He had heard the screams.

Abomination.

That was the one word that had come to mind and iced his blood.

He'd had no trouble executing the scientists. The sixty-two men and women had been taken outside and shot twice in the head. No one must know what had transpired in the depths of the Wenceslas Mine . . . or what was found. Only one researcher was allowed to live.

Doktor Tola Hirszfeld.

Jakob heard her sloshing behind him, half dragged by one of his men, wrists secured behind her back. She was tall for a woman, late twenties, small breasted but of ample waist and shapely legs. Her hair flowed smooth and black, her skin as pale as milk from the months spent underground. She was to have been killed with the others, but her father, Oberarbeitsleiter Hugo Hirszfeld, overseer of the project, had finally shown his corrupted blood, his half-Jewish heritage. He had attempted to destroy his research files, but he had been shot by one of the guards and killed before he could firebomb his subterranean office. Fortunately for his daughter, someone with full knowledge of die Glocke had to survive, to carry on the work. She, a genius like her father, knew his research better than any of the other scientists.

But she would need coaxing from here.

Fire burned in her eyes whenever Jakob glanced her way. He could feel her hatred like the heat of an open furnace. But she would cooperate . . . like her father had before her. Jakob knew how to deal with Juden, especially those of mixed blood. Mischlinge. They were the worst. Partial Jews. There were some hundred thousand Mischlinge in military service to the Reich. Jewish soldiers. Rare exemptions to Nazi law had allowed such mixed blood to still serve, sparing their lives. It required special dispensation. Such Mischlinge usually proved to be the fiercest soldiers, needing to show their loyalty to Reich over race.

Still, Jakob had never trusted them. Tola's father proved the validity of his suspicions. The doctor's attempted sabotage had not surprised Jakob. Juden were never to be trusted, only exterminated.

But Hugo Hirszfeld's exemption papers had been signed by the fuhrer himself, sparing not only the father and daughter, but also a pair of elderly parents somewhere in the middle of Germany. So while Jakob had no trust of the Mischlinge, he placed his full faith in his fuhrer. His orders had been letter specific: evacuate the mine of the necessary resources to continue the work and destroy the rest.

That meant sparing the daughter.

And the baby.

The newborn boy was swaddled and bundled into a pack, a Jewish infant, no more than a month old. The child had been given a light sedative to keep him silent as they made their escape.

Within the child burned the heart of the abomination, the true source of Jakob's revulsion. All of the hopes for the Third Reich lay in his tiny hands -- the hands of a Jewish infant. Bile rose at such a thought. Better to impale the child on a bayonet. But he had his orders.

He also saw how Tola watched the boy. Her eyes glowed with a mix of fire and grief. Besides aiding in her father's research, Tola had served as the boy's foster mother, rocking him asleep, feeding him. The child was the only reason the woman was cooperating at all. It had been a threat on the boy's life that had finally made Tola acquiesce to Jakob's demands.

Continues...


Excerpted from Black Order by James Rollins Copyright © 2006 by James Rollins. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 361 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(190)

4 Star

(108)

3 Star

(43)

2 Star

(9)

1 Star

(11)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 361 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2012

    Very Interesting Topic -- Must Read!

    Could hardly put it down! I was hooked after only a few pages. This book is based on the historical Nazi Bell. I love how Rollins always rolls fact into his suspense! Although the read was wonderful, I did notice Rollins left a few loop holes in his story where things did not add up. It is still definitely worth reading though.

    18 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2012

    Harriet, give it a rest!

    Harriet Klausner needs to learn that this is where you give your personal OPINION of a book, NOT an overview of it. I'm really sick of her ruining books for me before I even get a chance to read it!

    15 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2012

    !

    Ok ppl. Harriet klausner has ruined another book by revealing everything. Dont bother buying the books. Just read her plot reveals and you can save money. This woman needs to be taught that a review is whether she liked it or not. Not write a dissertation on each and every point of the book. She disgusts me.

    15 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A ROLLER-COASTER RIDE ADRENALIN RUSH!!

    If you enjoy "high octane" novels with unsuspected twists and turns, this thriller is for you.
    Rollins just keeps getting better and better with each book he writes.
    BLACK ORDER is a "page-turner" that is certain to keep you reading until the wee hours of the morning.
    IMHO.

    12 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This should be a movie

    This is the first James Rollins book I've read, and I'm very impressed. I didn't realize it was part of a series either, until I found the rest online. He does an excellent job of developing the characters and not assuming you've read the earlier books in the series. The level of technical detail here and the arguments made are very deep and thought provoking. Rollins drew me in held my attention from beginning to end. I also agree with one of the earlier reviewers - this is perfect for a movie; even Rollins' writing style lends itself very easily to adaptation. I can't wait to read the others in the series!

    12 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2012

    Science, Military and Ancient Mysteries, oh my!

    The next best thing to waking up on a holodeck with Indiana Jones, Jack Ryan, Ian Malcolm and Robert Langdon. You can't help but want to read them all.

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 30, 2012

    Its got it all

    Historical accuracy,great villians, and my all-time favorite crime fighting crew. Another non-stop action adventure you wont want to put down.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 13, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Great book I couldn't put down. Would recommend

    Great book I couldn't put down. Would recommend

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2011

    worth reading

    I really like the science behind this novel, but this book needs just a little more excitement, more suspense, less drivel about secret agents in love.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    Confusing, unbelievable and left a ton of loopholes.

    Definitely not my idea of a good read. The back-history went on and on and on and on. The whole thing was a confusing mess. Between quantum physics, mythical runes, religion, love stories, four countries, four languages and a partridge in a pear tree, I was lost and bored. I had the most fun keeping track of ALL the loopholes. I MADE myself finish this book and it was a total struggle. I would not recomend this book to anyone.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Fun Read

    I was on vacation when I picked this book up. I've been a James Rollins fan for a while, not because his books are necessarily believable, but because they are fun. If you are looking for a summer blockbuster of a book, then this is for you. Honestly I'm surprised none of his books have been considered for a movie. The plots are fantastical, the action scenes are exciting and over the top, the characters are well written. Anyway, I'm off on a tangent. I was on vacation and this was a great vacation read. There were a couple areas that made me think a little, which is rare for this genre, and the story was very interesting. I would definitely recommend this for any fan of Matt Reilly, as his books are similar in style (although I think James Rollins has better plot lines).

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Storm Troopers, monsters, and machines, Oh My!!

    In typical Rollins fashon, he dishes up a cliff hanger at the end of each chapter. Strange symbols, power mad scientists, super critters, and people,and the usual desperate race against time to save the good guys and the world. All in all a great, can't put it down weekend read.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Black Order: James Rollins Does it Again!

    For those of you who love the puzzle-solving historical fiction of Dan Brown as well as the thrilling action of Tom Clancy, this book will satisfy! Rollins completed a massive amount of research in order to entwine historical fact with a compelling and action-packed fictional story. It leaves the reader wondering.. "what if...?"

    I spent many a groggy morning at work because I didn't want to put the book down at night! Although this can be read as a stand-alone novel, I do recommend reading Map of Bones first, in order to understand some of the references to past events.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2012

    loved

    Definitely one if the "just one more chapter before i go to bed" books. Highly recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2012

    this is what passes for great literature today?

    There's a good reason this book is heavily discounted.

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2011

    Highly recommended

    Engrossing with much actual fact in the fictional story. If you like page turning adventure with engaging characters this is for you, Rollins is always a good read and I should know because I have read them all.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

    Good Read

    Second book in the Sigma Force series. The Characters are strong and the story is fast paced.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2013

    Excellent book

    I couldn't put it down. This book covered a lot of topics from WWII oocult secrets, quantum theory, technological advances and even the basis of religion. The plot was well thought out and the characters were done very well. If you like history, mystery, suspense and good old fashioned intrigue, you should read this. From Nazi's to the Zulu tribes, MI5 and other shadow groups, this book is a definite page turner. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2013

    Rollins is amazing!

    I love the Sigma Force Novels! And this one is no different! James Rollins has such a unique way of mixing together fact & fiction that I cannot put a single book down until it is done - and then do a little research afterwards about the facts he has built in. Black Order was an excellent read & I highly recommed this & any of his books to everyone!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Too much detail

    The action scenes were great, but some chapters made me feel like i was reading a beginners quantim physics textbook. I didnt like the way he shifted between events either. I liked the characters, and my husband would love this book, but i probably wont buy another.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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