Tom Clancy: RIP
By RU Twisted
Born in 1947, Thomas Leo Clancy, Jr. was a writer who went far beyond his craft and turned the uncanny ability to tell a story into an empire of military- and government-themed espionage thrillers that included everything from books to video games. Along the way, Clancy’s dedication to shining a positive light on the United States Military was clear as he gave honor to America’s best and bravest whenever possible.
Clancy first broke onto the scene with the now widely-known novel The Hunt for Red October in 1984. The book gained particular prominence when none other than President Ronald Reagan claimed that he was losing sleep because he couldn’t stop reading it. Within 4 years, Clancy had made over $1 million on the work and had signed publishing deals for several more.
His follow up material proved that Clancy was not just a one-hit wonder. Patriot Games, Red Storm Rising, and The Sum of All Fears, just to name a few, were wildly successful and catapulted Clancy into a level of fame that most writers have never known. Clear and Present Danger alone sold almost 2 million copies and became the number one best seller of the 1980s.
Movie deals quickly followed with big name actors like Harrison Ford and Alec Baldwin taking the role of Jack Ryan—Clancy’s primary protagonist—and were met with major box office success. The Hunt for Red October grossed over $200 million worldwide and Patriot Games made only slightly less (we won’t count that Ben Affleck one because, well, it’s Ben Affleck).
These cash-making machines enabled Clancy to move far beyond simply writing thrillers and into a bigger world that involved non-fiction, as well. His “Guided Tour” series focused on educated the general public about the world of submariners, Marine Expeditionary Units, Army Airborne, life on a carrier, fighter pilots and their crew, and even the U.S. Army Special Forces. In his “Study in Command” series, Clancy teamed up with other writers to bring light to the Armed Forces in places like Iraq and revisit the Special Forces in his book Shadow Warriors. As these works were certainly not the commercial successes of his novels, they showed that Clancy was willing to use his unparalleled fame as a writer to shine a spotlight on the real life heroes, rather than fictional ones.
His incredible success also drove even further into the fictional world with his Op Center series and a slew of video games in the Rainbow Six, Splinter Cell, and Ghost Recon series. Though obviously Clancy himself was not the creator of all these titles, they were nonetheless inspired by his work and carried his name—a name that became synonymous with an entire genre of games and even books written by others.
Often referred to as the father of the military-themed, techno-thriller genre, Clancy died at Johns Hopkins Hospital on October 1st, 2013, at the age of 66. After a career that included 17 New York Times #1 bestsellers, over 100 million copies of books in print, and a life-long dedication to paying homage to the men and women of the United States military, Tom Clancy left more than a mark on our society; he created a very large window for a public that was otherwise uneducated about the military to look through. For that, his life is to be commended.