Tom Clancy, author of such bestselling novels as “The Hunt for Red October” and “Patriot Games,” and a lifelong Republican who counted President Ronald Reagan among his fans, died at the age of 66 on this day in history on Oct. 1, 2013, according to multiple sources.
Clancy was an American author best known for his espionage, military science and technological thrillers, noted Biography.com.
He was the author of 17 New York Times bestsellers — and had his career launched by President Reagan.
“‘The Hunt for Red October,’ his first novel, had been bought for a lowly $5,000 by the Naval Institute Press. When Reagan pronounced it ‘the perfect yarn’ in 1984, Clancy, then a Maryland insurance agent, was propelled into a hugely successful writing career,” said The Guardian.
The plot of the novel was about the defection of a Soviet submarine commander to the United States. The novel captured the spirit of Reagan-era Cold War politics that called attention to Soviet military capability and the U.S.’s capacity to meet and surpass the Soviet challenge, according to Encyclopedia.com.
To return the compliment to President Reagan, in 1996, Clancy dedicated his book “Executive Orders,” to him.
The dedication read, “To Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th president of the United States: the man who won the war,” reported Politico.
“The Hunt for Red October” introduced Clancy’s most famous character, Jack Ryan, a CIA agent who becomes president.
Ryan has been portrayed by, among others, Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and John Krasinski, in films such as “Patriot Games,” “Clear and Present Danger” and “The Sum of All Fears,” according to The Guardian.
In several interviews, Clancy described the heroic Ryan as a version of himself — “an improved version, because he never had to get his eyes fixed by an ophthalmologist and all that stuff that I’ve had to do,” according to multiple sources.
Clancy was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1947. After graduating from Loyola College in Baltimore in 1969, he married Wanda Thomas, an insurance agency manager.
Clancy became an insurance agent in Baltimore, and later in Hartford, Connecticut, noted Encycopedia.com.
His poor eyesight made him ineligible for a military career, but Clancy maintained an interest in the military and researched various aspects of the U.S. Armed Forces and military technology, the same source indicated.
Ten of Clancy’s novels earned No. 1 rankings on The New York Times bestseller list.
More than 50 million copies of his books have been printed, and four have been made into movies, according to Biography.com.
Those films were “The Hunt for Red October” (1990), “Patriot Games” (1992), “Clear and Present Danger” (1994), and “The Sum of All Fears,” which debuted on the big screen in 2002.
Though Clancy had no military or espionage experience himself, his books were applauded for their authenticity.
“He was often invited to lecture to military audiences and counted high-ranking U.S. Army and security services personnel among his friends; he was frequently consulted as a pundit on U.S. military affairs,” according to The Guardian.
Clancy was known as a “novelist who created the techno-thriller — a suspenseful novel that relies on extensive knowledge of military,” according to Britannica.com
That moniker was something that Clancy acknowledged.
“People say I write techno-thrillers and Cold War novels. I say I write books,” Clancy told The Baltimore Sun in 1991.
“As long as there are bad guys around, I can write books. And last time I looked, there are still a few bad guys out there,” he said, according to the same source.
He also had a baseball connection to his hometown of Baltimore. He was a minority owner of the Orioles, according to NBC Sports.
Clancy died on Oct. 1, 2013, at age 66 in a Baltimore hospital.
Prior to his death, Clancy was working on a new novel, “Command Authority,” which was released posthumously in December 2013, according to several sources.