Tom Clancy, the creator of hero Jack Ryan from The Hunt for Red October, and Clear and Present Danger has died in Baltimore, MD at age 66, according to reports.
Clancy was known for his military and espionage fiction and non-fiction. Four of his novels became blockbuster movies with seasoned actors Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck bringing his character Jack Ryan to life on the big screen. Clancy’s first book, The Hunt for Red October was published in 1984, but did not hit the bestseller list until President Ronald Reagan called it “a good yarn”.
Clancy has nearly 20 novels to his credit, with at least 10 going to No.1 on the New York Times best-seller list. Although he never served in the military, he had a lifelong interest in military technology and strategy. His novels are known to be so detailed that some have become required reading at military academies. Some question just how Clancy knew what he knew, accusing him of gaining access to classified military information. The details in his novels were apparently far too close for comfort. Clancy denies such a thing, stating he “made up stuff that turned out to be real”.
Clancy eschewed the expected childhood reading list and turned instead to naval history at a young age. He devoured journals and books intended for career military officers and engineering experts. His interests blossomed during high school, when he joined the Army R.O.T.C. His hopes to serve his country were dashed however, when he was told he was too near-sighted to serve.
Despite his lack of service, Clancy was welcomed on military vessels and bases, at the Pentagon and dinners with high-ranking military officials. In 1986, Clancy tells the story of meeting then-Navy Secretary John Lehman who demanded to know “Who the hell cleared it?” in reference to Hunt. Clancy spent his life studying the covert plots between superpowers, as well as submarine warfare and missile systems. He extrapolated that information to craft his novels and several pieces of non-fiction. Clancy also collaborated with Gulf War commander and general, Chuck Horner on Every Man a Tiger (1999), a real-life account of the air offensive in the Persian Gulf War from a command perspective.
Clancy founded Red Storm Entertainment in 1996, expanding his creative reach into the video gaming arena, with the first release of Politika in November 1997. The multimedia computer games were based on Clancy’s novels, and continue to do well today with titles like Rainbow 6, going into its 18th version since release in 1996. Clancy’s Ghost Recon series is similar to Rainbow 6 but takes place in larger outdoor environments and has enjoyed 13 installments. The company was purchased by Ubisoft Entertainment but the game publisher continues to utilize Clancy’s name and ideas on the games released under his name. Red Storm Rising, Politika and The Hunt for Red October have also been morphed into board games.
No information is yet available as to the cause of Clancy’s demise, but his work will continue to stimulate and educate the world. His next book, Command Authority is scheduled to be released in December 2013, a year after his most recent endeavor, Threat Vector. Clancy’s contributions to Cold War fiction and non-fiction will continue long after his death. Needless to say, he will be missed.
Written by: Brandi Tasby