Thursday 3 October 2013

Tom Clancy ... mission sadly over

The late Tom Clancy
Lots of media reaction in the last couple of days to the death of novelist Tom Clancy, often presented as the world's most popular thriller writer and the creator of the techno-thriller genre. The New Statesman has a nice profile of the author, who died this week aged 66. The BBC also has a nice summary of his career, highlighting the Jack Ryan character who, like Bond and other agents, made a seamless transition to the silver screen in films such as Hunt for Red October and The Sum of All Fears.

There's a good Guardian piece today evaluating his five most important stories.

His books are well-written and popular - a term that's often used by critics to denigrate the worth of an author, but in Clancy's case, it was true - his books were tremendously popular as they offered readers a rip-roaring story, presented fantastic detail about the mechanics of spying and military strategy, and had great characters to boot.

Be interested to hear readers' views of the the author.


  1. I have read Tom Clancy novels-always good reading on a long air journey. He very good understanding American enemies, and his narration of jetliner crashing much before 9/11 happened made him what he was, a very good plot constructing novelist.

    Another death is reported in the Washington Post-that of Vo Nguyen Giap (at the age of 102) the otherwise known as General Giap whose tactics defeated US in Vietnam. In early 1970s when I was studying and working in US, he was a much hated figure there. His effective and lethal use of guerrilla warfare on an enemy who was ignorant of the terrain was talk of the town then as American losses were mounting.

  2. Clancy was my first foray into this sort of fiction, and his mis-classification as spy writer would lead me to initially be turned off to both John Le Carre and Len Deighton (keyword is initially). Clancy's work is best described as military fiction. When I was an Army reserve officer candidate, Red Storm Rising was encouraged reading, and for the Navy candidates, it was mandatory. Although I was later disqualified due to a slight arrhythmia, I have always followed his work religiously. I felt like I learned quite a bit more about the military after finishing one of his books. I also identified with Jack Ryan as we come from similar backgrounds. As the years went on, it became apparent that someone else was sitting at Tom's computer. The last book that I read was Teeth of the Tiger, which had a very different style that his previous works. After that book, I really lost interest in the Ryanverse. Nevertheless, he made a huge impact on me being a voracious reader and set a standard with his earlier works that few can surpass.