Born: 12 April 1947
Died: 1 October 2013
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland
Best known as:
The "techno-thriller" author who wrote The Hunt for Red October
Novelist Tom Clancy popularized the genre of "techno-thrillers": action-filled political intrigues stuffed with loving details of modern military technology. A former insurance broker, Tom Clancy became one of the best-selling authors in the United States with novels including The Hunt For Red October (1984), Patriot Games (1988), Clear and Present Danger (1989) and The Sum of All Fears (1991). All featured Clancy's frequent protagonist, Jack Ryan, a brainy and fist-fighting CIA operative, and all were made into movies. (Ryan was first played by Alec Baldwin in The Hunt For Red October, then portrayed twice by Harrison Ford, then by Ben Affleck in the 2002 film of The Sum of All Fears.) Clancy's early novels focused on the Cold War and took a grim view of the Soviet Union, making Clancy doubly popular with politically conservative readers. Tom Clancy was sometimes kidded for his extreme wordiness -- The Sum of All Fears ran 798 pages in hardcover -- but fans stuck with him in the 1990s as the Soviet Union fell apart in real life. After that (and after the terrors of 9/11) Clancy shifted his focus to terrorism and other hot topics, often criticizing the government. In 1996 he started Red Storm Entertainment, a multimedia company that brought his distinctive storytelling style to computer and video games. He died after a brief illness at age 66 in 2013.
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