Tom Clancy, author of dozens of novels and 17 New York Times best sellers in his long career, died Tuesday, Oct. 1, at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Clancy’s hometown. His passing leaves massive shoes to be filled in the espionage/war genre.
The cause of the author’s death has not been disclosed by his publisher, G.P. Putnam Sons, but it is known the Clancy was suffering from a brief illness right before his death. Ivan Held, the President of Putnam, did give a statement concerning Clancy’s passing, “It was an honor to know Tom Clancy and to work on his fantastic books. He was ahead of the news curve and sometimes frighteningly prescient. To publish a Tom Clancy book was a thrill every time. He will be missed by everyone at Putnam and Berkley, and by his fans all over the world.”
Clancy first received public interest for his novel, “The Hunt for Red October” in 1984. The book was lavished in unexpected praise, most notably by former President, Ronald Reagan. President Reagan received the book as a Christmas present. Reagan announced at a televised press conference that the book was “unputdown-able” and that it was the “perfect yarn”. This fueled the book to huge success. The novel sold more than 5 million copies and landed Clancy with a multi-million dollar contract. The success of the book was followed by a movie adaptation in 1990, starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin.
Clancy’s career only grew to greater acclaim as the author continued to churn out fantastic novels filled with tales of subterfuge and covert operations. What sets Clancy apart from other authors in the genre was his uncanny ability to create unbelievable realism in his work. His writing has become the defining example of the espionage genre. Any reader willing to break into any of his massive novels encounters an unmatched sense of attention to detail. Amazing descriptions and explanations of military weapons, tactics, and operations often led many to wonder if the author had sources inside of the military. Clancy never served in the military, having been excluded from service during Vietnam due to his sight issues, but his interest and passion for the military never died. Clancy was adamant about the basis of the knowledge he used in his writing, often stating his information came strictly from technical manuals, interviews with submarine experts and books on military matters.
Clancy once said in an interview, “I hang my hat on getting as many things right as I can.” “I’ve made up stuff that’s turned out to be real — that’s the spooky part.” In 1994, he wrote the novel “Debt of Honor”, which foreshadowed the Sept. 11 attacks. The book involves a suicidal terrorist crashing a jet liner into the U.S. Capitol.
For decades, Clancy wrote novel after novel that were the envy of many, and the obsession of many more. Clancy’s work has inspired much more than movies, though. His work created the tactical shooter genre. Tactical shooters are now amongst the most popular games in the present market. The “Splinter Cell” and “Rainbow Six” videogame series are held in great acclaim by gamers and critics alike. The impact of his writing stretches even further than video gaming. The archetype that he created for the fast paced thriller/ espionage found equal success in the television market with shows like “24”.
This prolific career began as little more than a remedy for boredom. Clancy described himself as bored in his position in the insurance company he worked for at the time. During his free time, Clancy would take to military journals. Using some of his clients as fact checkers, Clancy put together “The Hunt for Red October”. His most recent book, “Threat Vector”, was published in 2012. Luckily for Clancy fans, his book, “Command Authority” is planned to be published in December of this year.
A man who always stood by his work, Tom Clancy will leave behind a legacy of astonishing and frighteningly accurate writings. From spy espionage to military nonfiction, Clancy’s ability to put the pieces together right, to make it all fit, is what makes him stand out from the rest. Anyone who has not read one of his books is missing out. If you are not a reader, there is always the opportunity to watch one of the many movies based on his works, or even play a videogame or two.