By Scott Malone
Oct 2 Best-selling U.S. author Tom Clancy, who
thrilled readers with vivid descriptions of soldiers and spies
in novels including "The Hunt for Red October" and "Patriot
Games," has died at 66, his publisher said on Wednesday.
Clancy, whose books sold more than 100 million copies, died
on Tuesday in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, Penguin said.
"I'm deeply saddened by Tom's passing," said David Shanks, a
Penguin executive who had worked with Clancy from the start of
his writing career through the upcoming "Command Authority,"
which is due out in December.
"He was a consummate author, creating the modern-day
thriller, and was one of the most visionary storytellers of our
time. I will miss him dearly and he will be missed by tens of
millions of readers worldwide," he said.
Clancy died at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The cause of death
was not immediately disclosed.
His works closely tracked Americans' security fears, moving
from Cold War face-offs to terrorist attacks and both fascinated
readers with their high-stakes plots and enthralled military
experts with their precise details.
The books also inspired Hollywood blockbuster films
including "Clear and Present Danger," starring Harrison Ford,
and a series of video games, published by Ubisoft Entertainment
Ford and actors Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck played Jack
Ryan, one of Clancy's most famous characters, on the big screen.
"Spending time with Tom prior to shooting was the best part
of that whole experience for me," said Baldwin, who starred in
1990's "The Hunt for Red October."
"Tom was smart, a great story teller and a real gentleman."
Clancy's career also benefited from fans within Washington
power circles. His 1984 debut "The Hunt for Red October," the
account of a rogue naval commander on a nuclear-armed Soviet
submarine, won praise from then-president Ronald Reagan, who
declared it a good "yarn."
In total, Clancy published 25 fiction and non-fiction books,
which also included "The Sum of All Fears" and "Rainbow Six."
Later books moved on from the Cold War to deal with terrorism
and friction between the United States and China.
FANS IN UNIFORM
The detail of Clancy's novels sometimes raised eyebrows in
the intelligence community. According to The New York Times, in
a 1986 interview, Clancy recalled meeting Navy Secretary John
Lehman whose first question about "Red October" was "Who the
hell cleared it?"
But the accurate description of the U.S. military won him
fans in uniform.
"His earlier books were ones that had great following in the
military because of their accuracy," said Tad Oelstrom, a
retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant-general, who now serves as
director of the national security program at Harvard University.
Oelstrom recalled meeting Clancy at a dinner in 1999 at the
U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Even at the height
of his fame, when surrounded by high-ranking fliers telling war
stories, Clancy was a careful listener, Oelstrom said.
"My suspicion is he was soaking up as much as he was giving,
just because of the stories that were being told about the
Vietnam era," Oelstrom said.
His most recent book, "Threat Vector," debuted at the top of
the Publishers Weekly bestseller list in December 2012. His
publisher is a unit of Britain's Pearson PLC.
Clancy's next book, "Command Authority," is due to be
published on Dec. 3.
Clancy is survived by his wife Alexandra Llewellyn Clancy
and their daughter Alexis Jacqueline Page Clancy, and four
children from a previous marriage to Wanda King, including
Michelle Bandy, Christine Blocksidge, Kathleen Clancy and Thomas
Clancy grew up in Baltimore and in 1969 graduated from
Loyola University in Maryland. He worked as an insurance broker
before selling his first novel. He was also a part owner of the
Baltimore Orioles baseball team.
In a 1992 interview with The Baltimore Sun, he attributed
much of his success to being "lucky," saying that he had a
normal middle-class American upbringing.
"I was a little nerdy but a completely normal kid," Clancy
told the newspaper. "Mom and Dad loved each other. It was like
'Leave it to Beaver.'"