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Home > Blog > October 2013 > Friday Five: Tom Clancy
Tom Clancy in his war room
Tom Clancy in his war room
Tom Clancy signs books for fans
Tom Clancy signs books for fans
Tom Clancy on The Simpsons
Tom Clancy on The Simpsons

Earlier this week, best-selling author Tom Clancy passed away at the age of 66.

Whether it was his technically detailed espionage and military thrillers, the many films adapted from said novels, or in recent years the explosion of video games inspired by his combat centric characters, Tom Clancy was a juggernaut in the world of genre fiction and pop culture. As would be expected of a writer who has had 50 million copies of his books printed and racked up seventeen No. 1's on the New York Times Best Seller list, there are as many devout fans (Former President Ronald Reagan hailed Clancy's first novel, The Hunt for Red October it, as "my kind of yarn.") as there are defiant detractors (the "Tom Clancy plot generator" is admittedly pretty spot-on) of the author and his works.

To be perfectly honest, I had never read any of Clancy's novels until I saw the movie adaptation of one of his books, Patriot Games. Politics aside, it was a decent action film with interesting characters (most notably protagonist Jack Ryan, played by the ever sarcastic and imperfect hero Harrison Ford), and  even though ReadIt1st's manifesto is "Don't let the movie ruin the book", after seeing the film, it ultimately lead me to pick up and read the original book from the library, as well as some of his other titles.

Despite his untimely death, Tom Clancy's words and characters will continue to live on. The author's 17th novel, Command Authority, and a new Jack Ryan film directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh, Jack Ryan: Shadow One, are both slated for release in December.

In remembrance of Tom Clancy, here's a "Friday Five" of some of the prolific author's most well-known works, all available from our collections.

The Hunt for Red October The Hunt for Red October (available in book, ebook, audiobook, and dvd formats)

Written while Clancy was still a Maryland insurance salesman by day, he submitted the manuscript for The Hunt for Red October to the Naval Institute Press who published it and paid Clancy $5,000. This espionage thriller is dense with technical details about weaponry, submarines, and intelligence agencies set during the height of Cold War paranoia between the United States and Russia. The 1990 film adaptation starring Alec Baldwin as first screen incarnation of Jack Ryan and Sir Sean Connery as Soviet submarine captain Marko Ramius was a blockbuster and paved the way for Clancy's many victories at the multiplex for years to come.


Patriot Games Patriot Games (available in book, ebook, and dvd formats)

Retired, renegade CIA analyst Jack Ryan is just trying to take a quiet family vacation, but winds up embroiled in a terrorist plot on foreign land in Patriot Games. Ryan runs afoul of Irish terrorists and stops them from assassinating members of the Royal Family, but soon is fighting for his and his family's life after retaliation from the terrorists is brought back home to America. In the film adaptation, Jack Ryan is played by Harrison Ford, with supporting roles from James Earl Jones (reprising his role as Greer from The Hunt for Red October), Samuel L. Jackson, and Anne Archer.


Clear and Present Danger Clear and Present Danger (available in book, ebook, audiobook, and dvd formats)

Jack Ryan has now been promoted to Deputy Director of the C.I.A. and uncovers a covert drug smuggling operation in Colombia. There's lots of high tech weaponry and fighting with a ruthless drug cartel throughout the book, secret operations with codenames like CAPER and EAGLE EYE, and a lot of heavy handed talk about the "War on Drugs." Harrison Ford stars again as Jack Ryan in the film adaptation, with Willem Dafoe along for the ride as the cartel leader. I've read the book and seen the movie, and I have to say, I think the movie is better (gasp!).


The Sum of All Fears The Sum of All Fears (available in book, ebook, and dvd formats)

Ryan races to find the culprits who set off a nuclear device on American soil, all the while trying to broker peace between America and Russia. The Sum of All Fears still has plenty of tech and gadgets throughout its 900 plus pages, but Clancy centers more on politics and personalities this time around to carry his story. In a stroke of coincidence, the Soviet Union dissolved just days after this novel was released in 1991, putting an end to the Cold War. Ben Affleck takes over the reigns of the Jack Ryan character in the film adaptation and does a satisfactory job, but he just doesn't have the intensity that Harrison Ford lent to the role and the movie suffers for it.


The Tom Clancy Companion The Tom Clancy Companion (available in book format)

It was said by Clancy himself that all of his knowledge for his novels came from meticulously researching technical manuals, reading books on military history, and even interviewing submarine experts. Well, now his fans can do their own homework on their favorite author with the utterly comprehensive Tom Clancy Companion. Characters, weapons, ships, tanks, and other military-grade hardware; it's all included in this tome, as well as lots of rare photographs, essays, and an exclusive interview with Tom Clancy.


What is your favorite Tom Clancy book or movie adaptation?

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