Archive for April 12th, 2009

I first ran into Tom Clancy’s books back in college.  A good friend of mine, Eric Geist, was a real fan of all things military, just like me.  As we both had the same major, we spent a lot of “study” time talking about fighters, bombers, ships, and tanks.

It was he who first mentioned “Red Storm Rising” and Tom Clancy, telling me it was a great book that I had to read.  He also mentioned a couple other books (“The Hunt for Red October” and “The Cardinal of the Kremlin“) as must-reads.  It wasn’t until after graduating from college that I took Eric’s advice, bought a copy of “Red Storm Rising“, and started reading.  I was hooked.

Tom Clancy, who was born on April 12, 1947, wrote “Red Storm Rising” with fellow fiction writer Larry Bond in the mid 1980’s.  But before that, he had introduced us to Jack Ryan in his first solo work, “The Hunt for Red October“.  And over the course of the next 6 or 7 books, I followed Ryan’s progression from CIA analyst to Deputy Director of Intelligence to National Security Advisor to Vice President and, finally, President of the United States.

All along the way, Ryan is challenged with helping Russians defect from the Soviet Union, uncovering government corruption, and protecting his family (and his country) from attack, all while trying to maintain his family life and hold on to his values.

I actually think we learn as much about Clancy from his books as we learn about his characters.  He seems to be fairly conservative (maybe even flat-out Republican) in his political views and well as definitely pro-military.  Regardless of his political views, I really enjoyed nearly every book I read.  I think many of you would, too.

I suppose that’s because Jack Ryan was a person who valued his family, made good decisions in the face of disaster, and loved his country.  Clancy’s character was, in a word, a patriot.  And the books themselves were fast-paced, thrilling to read, and terribly difficult to put down.  I recall working through the final chapters of “Patriot Games” sitting in a bean-bag chair at about 3am on a work morning.

But Tom Clancy is now more than just Jack Ryan.  There are several “apostrophe” series (books with Clancy’s name, written by others) like “Op-Center” and “Power Plays“.  He’s written a handful of non-fiction books (most of which I own), and founded a video game company in the 1990’s called Red Storm Entertainment.  From it, a whole host of video games have been released, one of which (Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear) was on my computer for a loonngg time.

So grab a Clancy book and dive in.  You’re in for a great ride.  Eric, if you’re reading this, thanks a ton for the recommendation.

Happy Birthday Tom Clancy!!

Recommended Reading: The Cardinal of the Kremlin – It’s hard to pick a favorite book, but I think The Cardinal is mine.

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