Sunday, January 19, 2014

Command Authority: Tom Clancy's Last Thriller

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review of Tom Clancy's Command Authority in the Washington Times.

A feeling of sad finality gripped me as I read the last of the 739 pages of Tom Clancy's 18th and final thriller. Once again, the acrid scent of cordite wafted through my imagination during the climactic gunbattle as Clancy’s characters from the world of intelligence achieved yet another victory over the forces of evil.

Clancy, who died on Oct. 1 at 66, had boosters as disparate as President Ronald Reagan, who pronounced “The Hunt for Red October,” his first of 18 books, “the perfect yarn” and “non-put-downable.” National Public Radio's Alan Cheuse called him “Faulkner in a flak suit.”

Let’s be blunt about it. Clancy
was an acquired taste — beloved by patriots who support a strong military and an effective intelligence community; mocked by leftist woo-woos who argue that a turned-cheek is the best defense against an adversary.

Clancy was an unabashed hard-liner. In his first novels, his heroes fought the USSR and its KGB. When the Iron Curtain tumbled, burying world communism under a heap of rubble, he made a seamless segue into a war against terrorism. I was one of the millions of fans who put him on the best-seller list for 17 straight books.

In “Command Authority,” Clancy 
has at it again with his original foes, correctly equating the current regime in Moscow as merely a relabeled version of what Reagan once termed “the evil empire.” The Russian president, one Valeri Volodin (somewhat rhymes with “Putin,” eh?) is threatening the military annexation of  Estonia, Ukraine and other former states of the USSR. 

Volodin's plan includes enhanced powers for the FSB, successor to the KGB as a vehicle to subvert his targets from within. He accuses the United States and other Western powers of instigating anti-Russian provocations in Estonia.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

Note: In 1984 my wife and I visited Jamaica, our favorite vacation island. I brought along several thrillers to read, including Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October.

I had not heard of Clancy at this point, but being a Defense Department civilian employee, as well as a Navy veteran who spent two years on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War and another two years on a Navy tugboat at the nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland, I was drawn to the novel by the subject matter.

Reading the book on the beach and by the pool, I was surprised at how accurate the details were (he even got the nickname right of a phone dropped into the sea by surface craft to communicate with submarines), and I was even more surprised at his detailing what I believed at the time was classified information. (I later discovered that I was wrong - the information had been declassified).

I became a Clancy fan and I've enjoyed reading all of his subsequent thrillers and his nonfiction books.

Tom Clancy died far too young at 66 and he shall be missed.

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