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Obituary: Tom Clancy

The Hunt For Red October

Obituary by Jack Foley

US author Tom Clancy, best known for his Jack Ryan novels, has died at the age of 66, his publisher has confirmed.

The former insurance broker died in a Baltimore hospital near his Maryland home, according to reports.

Clancy wrote a string of best-selling spy and military thrillers, the most successful of which were undoubtedly his Jack Ryan stories, several of which were turned into films.

The Hunt For Red October was Clancy’s first published novel in 1984 and sold more than five million copies, boosted by an endorsement from then President Ronald Reagan, who described it as “a perfect yarn”.

Such was its success, the book was turned into a film starring Alec Baldwin as Ryan and Sir Sean Connery as Soviet submarine captain Marko Ramius.

It was followed by popular adaptations of Clancy novels Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger (starring Harrison Ford as Ryan) and The Sum of All Fears (with Ben Affleck in the Ryan role).

Indeed, such is the enduring popularity of Clancy’s novel creation that Paramount Pictures are rebooting the film franchise later this year with Jack Ryan: Shadow One. Chris Pine will play the Ryan character, with Sir Kenneth Branagh directing.

In addition to writing books, Clancy also became closely associated with the world of video gaming and, during the ’90s, founded Red Storm Entertainment, later bought by Ubisoft, which developed games based on Clancy’s ideas, including the popular titles Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six.

He still managed to turn out a book a year, which in turn helped him to become one of the wealthiest authors in the world. In 2002., Forbes ranked him tenth in its Celebrity 100 list with estimated earnings of $47.8m.

Clancy was known for his technically detailed espionage and military science storylines and regularly talked about his extensive research.

For The Hunt For Red October, for instance, he interviewed former submariners who were working at a nuclear power plant near his home.

However, he did attract criticism from some quarters for the detailed accounts of terrorist attacks on the US, which included a crazed Japan Airlines pilot who flies into the Capitol building in Washington. The book in which it was contained, One, was published in 1994 and was identified by many as being prophetic following the 9/11 attacks of 2001.