Generations of fans mourn the passing of legendary author Tom Clancy
Spy genre enthusiasts around the nation mourn the loss of the renowned novelist Tom Clancy. The best-selling author passed away on Oct. 1 at the age of 66, leaving behind a legacy of espionage and military tales, heroic triumphs that have inspired millions.
Born in 1947 in Rosedale, Md., Clancy was one of three children and attended a private Catholic school until his graduation and subsequent attendance at Loyola University, where he earned a degree in English literature and served as the president of the chess club. Clancy later joined the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corp, but his nearsightedness made him ineligible to serve. Despite this disappointment, Clancy took a job at an insurance agency and wrote in his spare time. In 1985, the Naval Institute Press published his first novel, “The Hunt for Red October,” for $5,000.
Clancy had originally planned to sell only 5,000 copies, but after then-President Ronald Reagan publicly praised the novel, calling it “my kind of yarn,” it became a national bestseller with over two million paperback copies sold. “The Hunt for Red October” was the first of a string of blockbuster thrillers, including the beloved Jack Ryan novels, “Patriot Games,” “Clear and Present Danger,” and “The Sum of All Fears,” which were made into movies featuring major Hollywood stars.
Writer Brad Meltzer commented to NPR.org that Clancy “gave America a character that represented America right back at them.”
To the generation that grew up with James Bond, Derek Flint, Matt Helm and other super-spy heroes, Tom Clancy crafted master-spy stories based upon real-life events, giving him an unequaled esteem as both a writer and a incredibly knowledgeable individual. He melded fiction with history, applying it to current events and politics, keeping readers intrigued by the weave of super-spy heroics with believable danger in a politically complex world.
Penguin Group executive David Shanks said in a statement, “He was a consummate author … one of the most visionary storytellers of our time.”
His vast technical knowledge provoked many to theorize that Clancy had inside sources in the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the U.S. Armed Forces. His 2010 political thriller, “Dead or Alive,” is eerily linked with the Osama Bin Laden takedown, as it accurately portrays the events before they occurred.
Nick Summers with The Daily Beast writes, “It’s escapist stuff, but some of Clancy’s work comes startlingly close to reality.”
With a new Jack Ryan film underway, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” which stars Chris Pine and Keira Knightley and is set to release in December, UH students have every reason to pick up a Clancy novel and dive into a world of top-secret adventure. Clancy’s final work, “Command Authority,” is also set to publish in December.
Clancy’s legacy is outlined with the political complexities of today’s world in a fiery, fast-paced medium that proves more readable than dry textbooks or monotonous cable news. He gives his readers an unparalleled advantage, stimulating ideas on how to effect change, intercept the dangers of our time and live adventurously. Anyone and everyone can benefit from his genius. But more importantly, Clancy will be remembered and honored through his works. He will remain forever the ultimate insider as his stories live on.
As he wrote in “Clear and Present Danger,” “the only way to do all the things you’d like to do is to read.”