My thoughts on the death of Tom Clancy

As I’m sure everyone has heard, Tom Clancy died on Tuesday, though it wasn’t public until yesterday.

Clancy was a great author, and while some enjoy bashing his writing style, the fact remains that the man sold 100 million books and saw many of them turned into successful movies and video games.

I, personally, enjoyed probably seven or eight of them — almost all of them while I was serving in the Marines, and many of them while I was on deployment. A few of his books just slightly missed the mark, at least with me, and he unfortunately later watered down his brand by partnering with other writers on many books. In my opinion, these other writers primarily wrote these books because the few that I tried, truly reeked, and fell far short of the standards Clancy himself set.

But Tom Clancy himself could weave a great yarn. And the seven or eight books of his that I enjoyed, I really enjoyed. My personal favorites of his were Without Remorse and Rainbow 6. (Other notable books of his that I enjoyed included The Sum of All FearsClear and Present DangerRed Storm Rising, and Debt of Honor.)

Tom Clancy was 66. Here’s The New York Times obituary for him, which provided a great overview of his life: Tom Clancy, best-selling master of military thrillers, dies at 66.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

P.S. I really appreciate everyone’s support of my books. Sold Out, the Marine Sniper/CIA thriller about Nick Woods, has gone as high as No. 51 in its genre. And Little Man, and the Dixon County War, a Western thriller that moves super fast, has gone as high as No. 57 in its genre.

8 Comments

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8 responses to “My thoughts on the death of Tom Clancy

  1. In my youth (which says something about me, I suppose, because I was reading Clancy in Junior High) Tom Clancy was my Favorite Author, full stop. I probably read The Hunt for Red October three or four times. Red Storm Rising, Cardinal, Fears, etc.. Were all great books, and he was truly the Pater Familias of the Techno-Thriller Genre as it emerged in the mid-80’s to early 90’s.

    Unfortunately, I felt like he bought into his own world a little too deeply. With Debt of Honor forward, and even starting a bit in Clear & Present Danger and Sum of All Fears, the “Ryan-verse” that Clancy created was clearly his fantasy of how American foreign policy and relations should be handled. Wiping out the US government and making Jack Ryan president, thus creating an alternate history crafted in Clancy’s own vision, really turned me off of his writings. I got through Executive Orders and Rainbow Six, and there were some interesting parts, but I couldn’t even engage with Bear and the Dragon, and that was the last Clancy book I tried to read.

    I’ve read a lot to the effect that his Jack Jr. novels are a significant downgrade in quality from his earlier works, and I’ve no interest in reading them right now. Maybe some day I’ll take a peek, but for now, I’m actually just happy to remember his earlier works and how they defined an entire genre of fiction.

    • You absolutely nailed my own thoughts, but better. I trudged through The Bear and the Dragon, but that was the last time I spent almost $30 on a Tom Clancy novel.

      And I, too, once thought he was the greatest author, albeit a bit too much into the technical details. (<—- Massive understatement, clearly…)

      But there have been so, so many nights when his path fueled my dreams. In my mind, I'd say, "Well, Clancy was in his 40s and selling insurance when he made it. You can do it, too."

      Fact is that Clancy achieved what most authors desire. And I try to give him a pass on the co-authored crap because he probably never even saw them. Between the movies, the games, and being treated like a King, it probably all went a bit to his head. Or, maybe even was just too busy.

      I hope I'm strong enough to never dilute my brand, if I make it that far, but who knows. The temptations and pressures are probably overwhelming. Especially if you raise your lifestyle — something I'd personally do my best to resist doing… (Nearly bankrupt once is one time too many for this guy…)

      • I completely agree that he’s a great example of a guy who came at writing from left field, doing a drudge job, and made an immortal mark on the world.

        As to the licensed stuff, eh, I don’t give him too much flack for that. He became a brand, and managed that brand awfully well. The Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon games were some of the highest-quality tactical first-person shooters of their day, until they were somewhat ignominiously diluted into just another CoD / MoH clone. I still play the original Ghost Recon and its expansion packs now and then.

        I can’t really imagine getting to the point where I was simply selling my name slapped on a series of books or video games. If that day ever came, would it bother me that much? I imagine the check that came with it would ease a lot of my qualms…

  2. Nancy England

    I first discovered Clancy in a New York Times review, which said he was an insurance salesman who’d been spending a great deal of time researching details for his just-published book, “The Hunt for Red October.” I grabbed the first copy I could get my hands on; both Brandt and I appreciated his thoroughness of detail.
    We bought every Clancy book we could find, and when Hunt for Red October came out as a movie, with Sean Connery, no less !!!, we were thrilled.
    Yes, it’s a shame when authors start peddling their names on other authors’ books. Just not the same.

    • It’s funny. I never really got into “The Hunt for Red October.” Either the movie or the book. And it’s weird in that most likely, that was his most popular title.

  3. I won’t knock him. I enjoyed his books, the earlier ones especially.

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