Tom Clancy, author of bestselling spy thrillers including The Hunt for Red October, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears, died yesterday, October 1, 2013, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Clancy, a former insurance agent turned writer, has penned 28 books and also helped create the popular video game series Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell.
His debut 1984 novel, The Hunt for Red October was adapted into a Hollywood blockbuster. When the novel was first published, a lot of people suspected that he must have had inside information from US intelligence about Soviet's secret military communications. Navy Secretary John Lehman asked him, "Who the hell cleared it?"
"That's a load of crap," Clancy replied in an interview as reported by AMC. Instead, he attributed the meticulous details from interviews with a former submariner who worked in a power plant near his home in Maryland, as well as reading several hundred military books including those with dry titles such as The World's Missile Systems, Guide to the Soviet Navy, and Combat Fleets of the World.
The Hunt for Red October was published by the US Naval Institute Press - it was their first fictional works ever published and still their most successful. A woman who read the novel loved it so much that she gave a copy to all her friends. One of that friends happened to be President Ronald Reagan, who was spotted stepping off Marine One helicopter with the book tucked under his arm. When a reporter asked about the book, Reagan complimented the book as "a really good yarn." The publicity helped propelled Clancy into stardom.
Clancy's writings, which are famous for detailed portrayals of military tactics and technology, gained him a loyal following within the armed forces in the United States and abroad. That, in turn gave him insider's access that he later spun into story plots. Regardless, Clancy was always careful. He insisted that despite of his friendship with many high-ranking military brass, he never asked for classified information.
"I hang my hat on getting as many things right as I can," Clancy said as reported by The New York Times, "I've made up stuff that turned out to be real - that's the spooky part."
Tom Clancy was 66.