Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Look Back At Thriller Writer Tom Clancy

Michael Walsh at National Review looks back at Tom Clancy.

It’s probably incorrect to call Tom Clancy, who died on Tuesday at the age of 66, the father of the modern political thriller. That honor should rightly go first to Ian Fleming, about whose James Bond novels little more need be said. Not only did Fleming create the most dashing British hero since Sherlock Holmes, he was also a pulp craftsman of no small literary gifts: “The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning,” runs the opening line of the first Bond novel, Casino Royale (1953), a beginning worthy of Melville.

Next comes Frederick Forsyth, whose 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal remains the gold standard for clandestine-world fiction, a gripping tale that has the reader rooting for a cold-blooded assassin, motivated solely by money, to put a bullet through the head of the father of modern France, Charles de Gaulle. Forsyth’s command of history and tradecraft gave the novel its realistic feel, and his inversion of the moral universe immediately distinguished the book from the competition. It would not be until the publication 13 years later of Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October that another work of spy fiction would have such an impact.

That book, you’ll recall, told the story of a rogue Soviet naval officer who hijacks his own submarine and precipitates an international incident. With the world on the brink of World War III, it’s left to the hero, CIA analyst Jack Ryan, to save the day by divining and then acting upon his educated guess that Captain Ramius is defecting, not attacking. But it wasn’t the story itself that rocketed Red October to the top of the best-seller lists. Clancy had never published fiction before — the novel had been rejected by the major publishing houses and was issued by the U.S. Naval Institute Press — but an astute editor saw the possibilities in his command of technology wedded to his narrative gifts. Red October wasn’t just fiction; it was really happening.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:! 

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