by Terry Ambrose
Tom Clancy’s name is known by millions of thriller readers everywhere. He wrote seventeen #1 New York Times bestselling novels and co-wrote four New York Times bestselling nonfiction books. Mr. Clancy’s work has repeatedly received praise from sources like Newsweek–the magazine called his military thrillers, “Brilliant.”
Written in 1984, The Hunt for Red October was Tom Clancy’s first novel. In that book, he introduced Jack Ryan, a “regular guy” who was thrown in to extraordinary circumstances. The final Tom Clancy novel is Command Authority. The book again features Jack Ryan and will be released in December 2013. Mr. Clancy co-wrote the novel with Mark Greaney, who was unable to comment for this article.
Fans love Tom Clancy’s writing because it is, as the Wall Street Journal called it, “Highly entertaining. Writers love him for a different reason. New York Times and #1 International Bestseller thriller author, Steve Berry, said, “He did what all of us dream of doing. He created a genre–the techno-thriller–and became its undisputed king. Many, many writers got their chance to be published thanks to what Clancy did. He opened up a new door in the thriller world. That will forever be his legacy and it’s certainly one to be proud of.”
Another of his peers, Larry Bond, who is himself a New York Times bestselling author, got his start by working with Mr. Clancy. Bond commented on the impact made by his mentor. “Tom revived the military novel as the techno-thriller, but people get too hung up on the nuclear subs and jet fighters. Tom loved the technology and it was fun. But the subs and jets are there for the same reasons there are horses in westerns: they’re tools for the characters. The reason his books were so popular were the characters he created and the stories they were in, and that what they will be remembered for.”
Tom Clancy’s books were especially fascinating because they focused on current world events. The New York Times Book Review said: “He constantly taps the current world situation for its imminent dangers and spins them into an engrossing tale.” The Washington Post echoed that sentiment in this quote: “Heart-stopping action…entertaining and eminently topical.”
Anyone who has ever read a Tom Clancy thriller understands the books are a complex blend of current events, high technology weapons and tension. The novels revolve around characters that readers care about. Another thriller writer, James Bruno, said: “Jack Ryan and Jason Bourne are about as different from each other as are a STU-4 secure line from a Glock 19. Clancy’s accurate description of how national decision making and implementation function in real life is the central strength of his fiction. It’s thriller writing for the intelligent reader.”
Like some of the other high-profile writers of our time, Mr. Clancy also worked with other writers, sometimes helping nurture careers that could turn a new writer into an overnight sensation. Larry Bond acknowledged the lessons he learned. “If you’re going to be an apprentice writer, apprentice for Tom Clancy. He was a born storyteller.” Bond, who remembers Mr. Clancy fondly, also quipped, “He visited Ireland and Blarney castle, of course. My joke about that wasn’t that he didn’t kiss the Blarney stone–he bit and swallowed. He once took a year off between two of the Jack Ryan books. When he wasn’t writing, he was talking about story ideas. Every time I spoke to him during that period, he’d thought of another book to write.”
In addition to his writing, Mr. Clancy will be remembered fondly by those who knew him. Dale Brown another New York Times bestselling military-thriller author said, “I first met Tom at a Putnam event in New York City. He was seated up on stage with Bill Cosby, George Burns and other notable Putnam authors. Somehow in the throng of people along the rope line he recognized me, came down off the stage and shook my hand. In the few other times I chanced to meet him, he was always a gentleman. He will be missed, but his work will live on.”
Learn more about the authors who contributed quotes for this article on their websites:
Steve Berry: steveberry.org.
Larry Bond: www.larry-bond.com.
Dale Brown: www.dalebrown.info.
James Bruno: jameslbruno.blogspot.com.
The following listing of books comes from the Tom Clancy website at www.tomclancy.com.
All novels were published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons and Berkley Books in the U.S.:
The Hunt for Red October (Berkley only, 1985)
Red Storm Rising (1986)
Patriot Games (1987)
The Cardinal of the Kremlin (1988)
Clear and Present Danger (1989)
The Sum of All Fears (1991)
Without Remorse (1993)
Debt of Honor (1994)
Executive Orders (1996)
Rainbow Six (1998)
The Bear and the Dragon (2000)
Red Rabbit (2002)
The Teeth of the Tiger (2003)
Dead or Alive (2010)
Against All Enemies (2011)
Locked On (2011)
Command Authority will be published in December 2013 by Putnam Adult.
Clancy’s New York Times bestselling nonfiction books include: Into the Storm: A Study in Command (written with General Fred Franks, Jr., Ret., and Tony Koltz), Every Man a Tiger (written with General Charles Horner, Ret., and Tony Koltz), Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces (written with General Carl Stiner, Ret., and Tony Koltz) and Battle Ready (written with General Tony Zinni, Ret., and Tony Koltz).
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