July 15, 1931 |
Clive Eric Cussler (born July 15, 1931) is an American adventure novelist and marine archaeologist. His thriller novels, many featuring the character Dirk Pitt, have reached The New York Times fiction best-seller list more than seventeen times. Cussler is the founder and chairman of the real-life National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), which has discovered more than sixty shipwreck sites and numerous other notable sunken underwater wreckages. He is the sole author or lead author of more than 50 books.
Clive Cussler was born in Aurora, Illinois, and grew up in Alhambra, California. He was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout when he was 14. He attended Pasadena City College for two years and then enlisted in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. During his service in the Air Force, he was promoted to Sergeant and worked as an aircraft mechanic and flight engineer for the Military Air Transport Service (MATS).
Clive Cussler married Barbara Knight in 1955, and they remained married for nearly fifty years until her death in 2003. Together they had three children—Teri, Dirk, and Dayna—who have given him four grandchildren.
After his discharge from the military, Cussler went to work in the advertising industry, first as a copywriter and later as a creative director for two of the nation's most successful advertising agencies. As part of his duties Cussler produced radio and television commercials, many of which won international awards including an award at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.
Following the publication in 1996 of Cussler's first nonfiction work, The Sea Hunters, he was awarded a Doctor of Letters degree in 1997 by the Board of Governors of the State University of New York Maritime College who accepted the work in lieu of a Ph.D. thesis. This was the first time in the college's 123-year history that such a degree had been awarded.
In 2002 Cussler was awarded the Naval Heritage Award from the U S Navy Memorial Foundation for his efforts in the area of marine exploration.
Clive Cussler began writing in 1965 when his wife took a job working nights for the local police department where they lived in California. After making dinner for the kids and putting them to bed he had no one to talk to and nothing to do so he decided to start writing. His most famous creation is marine engineer, government agent and adventurer Dirk Pitt. The Dirk Pitt novels frequently take on an alternative history perspective, such as "what if Atlantis was real?" or "what if Abraham Lincoln wasn't assassinated, but was kidnapped?"
The first two Pitt novels, The Mediterranean Caper and Iceberg, were relatively conventional maritime thrillers. The third, Raise the Titanic!, made Cussler's reputation and established the pattern that subsequent Pitt novels would follow: a blend of high adventure and high technology, generally involving megalomaniacal villains, lost ships, beautiful women, and sunken treasure.
Cussler's novels, like those of Michael Crichton, are examples of techno-thrillers that do not use military plots and settings. Where Crichton strove for scrupulous realism, however, Cussler prefers fantastic spectacles and outlandish plot devices. The Pitt novels, in particular, have the anything-goes quality of the James Bond or Indiana Jones movies, while also sometimes borrowing from Alistair MacLean's novels. Pitt himself is a larger-than-life hero reminiscent of Doc Savage and other characters from pulp magazines.
Art imitating life
As an underwater explorer, Cussler has discovered more than sixty shipwreck sites and has written non-fiction books about his findings. He is also the founder of the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), a non-profit organization with the same name as the fictional government agency that employs Dirk Pitt. Cussler owns a large collection of classic cars, several of which (driven by Pitt) appear in his novels.
Cussler's web site claims that NUMA discovered, among other shipwrecks, the Confederate submarine Hunley. This claim is disputed by underwater archaeologist E. Lee Spence who first reported finding it in 1970 The first expedition to dig into the site and bring back videographic evidence was the 1994/1995 SCIAA/NUMA H.L. Hunley expedition, directed by underwater archaeologist Dr. Mark M. Newell. That was largely financed by Cussler, thus his claim to have discovered it. Based on sworn statements by Dr. Newell, that expedition relied, at least to some extent, on Spence's maps of his earlier work. The dive team that took the video was led by diver Ralph Wilbanks who is on NUMA's Board of Directors.
Important finds by Cussler's N.U.M.A. include
- The Mary Celeste. The famed ghost ship that was found abandoned with cargo intact. (The identification of this wreck as the Mary Celeste has since been placed into a state of question after one researcher disputed the claims authenticity.)
- The Manassas. The first ironclad of the civil war, formerly the icebreaker Enoch Train.
- A Visual & interactive depiction of Dr. Cussler's NUMA Foundation Expeditions has been made available as an extension of NUMA's original website. web site it is an informative and educational overview from a global perspective of Dr. Cussler's expeditions and discoveries.
Appearances as characters
In what started as a joke in the novel Dragon that Cussler expected his editor to remove, he now often writes himself into his books; at first as simple cameos, but later as something of a deus ex machina, providing the novel's protagonists with an essential bit of assistance or information. Often, the character is given an alias and not revealed as Cussler until his exit with the characters remarking on how odd the name is. The cameos are usually restricted to the Pitt adventures, although the Fargo Files books Lost Empire, Spartan Gold, Kingdom, and The Tombs had Cussler making an appearance. The Tombs also includes his wife, Janet.
A regular name in Cussler novels was Leigh Hunt. Seventeen books have had a character named Hunt appear in the opening prologues, usually dying; notable exception is the first (in chronological order) Dirk Pitt's adventure, Pacific Vortex, in which Admiral Leigh Hunt is a major character, commander of the 101st Recovery Fleet in Hawaii. In the introduction to Arctic Drift, Cussler says there was a real Leigh Hunt who died in 2007 and the novel is dedicated to him.
Another surreptitious in-joke is that significant events in several novels occur on July 15 (Cussler's birthday).
- The first film of a Clive Cussler novel was Raise The Titanic! (1980), starring Richard Jordan as Dirk Pitt, Jason Robards as Admiral James Sandecker, David Selby as Dr. Gene Seagram, Anne Archer as Dana Seagram. It grossed $13.8 million on a budget of $36 million.
- Paramount Pictures released Sahara on April 8, 2005, starring Matthew McConaughey as Dirk Pitt, Steve Zahn as Al Giordino, William H. Macy as Admiral Sandecker, and Penélope Cruz as Eva Rojas. It grossed $122 million with $241 million in production and distribution expenses.
|The Mayan Secrets||Fargo Adventure||5||September 3, 2013|
|Mirage||The Oregon Files||9||November 5, 2013|
Dirk Pitt Adventures
|2||The Mediterranean Caper||1973|
|4||Raise the Titanic!||1976|
|18||Black Wind2, 3||2004|
|19||Treasure of Khan2, 3||2006|
|20||Arctic Drift2, 3||2008|
|21||Crescent Dawn2, 3||2010|
|22||Poseidon's Arrow2, 3||2012|
1) Although published in 1983, Pacific Vortex! was written and takes place before The Mediterranean Caper.
2) Novels featuring Dirk Pitt, and his children, Dirk Pitt Jr. and Summer Pitt.
3) Novels co-authored with Clive Cussler's son, Dirk.
The NUMA Files
This series of books focuses on Kurt Austin, Team Leader of NUMA's Special Assignments division and his adventures. Some characters from the Pitt novels appear such as Sandecker, Rudi Gunn, Hiram Yaeger and St. Julien Perlmutter. Pitt makes brief appearances in the books "Serpent", "White Death", "Polar Shift", "Devil's Gate", "The Storm", and "Zero Hour."
|2||Blue Gold *||2000|
|3||Fire Ice *||2002|
|4||White Death *||2003|
|5||Lost City *||2004|
|6||Polar Shift *||2005|
|7||The Navigator *||2007|
|9||Devil's Gate †||2011|
|10||The Storm †||2012|
|11||Zero Hour †||2013|
The Oregon Files
The Oregon Files features a ship named the Oregon which Cussler introduced in the Dirk Pitt Adventure Flood Tide (1997). While appearing to be a decrepit freighter, it's actually a high-tech advanced ship used by an unnamed and mysterious "Corporation" under the leadership of Juan Cabrillo. The ship is run like a business, with its crew being shareholders, taking jobs for the CIA and other agencies to help stop crime and terrorism. The crew is adept at disguises, combat, computer hacking, and more, to aid their missions. Kurt Austin, Joe Zavala, and Dirk Pitt all make cameo appearances in the fourth volume, Skeleton Coast (Juan speaks to Pitt on the telephone; and Austin and Zavala appear at the end).
|1||Golden Buddha ‡||2003|
|2||Sacred Stone ‡||2004|
|3||Dark Watch §||2005|
|4||Skeleton Coast §||2006|
|5||Plague Ship §||2008|
|7||The Silent Sea §||2010|
|8||The Jungle §||2011|
|9||Mirage §||November 5, 2013|
Isaac Bell Adventures
These books are set in the western U.S. in the early part of the 20th century. They center around Isaac Bell, a brilliant investigator for the Van Dorn Detective agency, which appears to be modeled after the real-life Pinkerton Agency. Like Pitt, Bell has an affinity for automobiles and is a crack shot. The first book does reveal Bell survives into 1950 with a wife and grown children. Though the setting is a century ago, the books still qualify as techno-thrillers, since they feature the advanced technology of that time such as railroad tunnels, telegraphs, telephones, and dreadnought battleships.
|2||The Wrecker ‖||2009|
|3||The Spy ‖||2010|
|4||The Race ‖||2011|
|5||The Thief ‖||2012|
|6||The Striker ‖||2013|
The series focuses on Sam and Remi Fargo, a couple who are professional treasure hunters.
|1||Spartan Gold ^||2009|
|2||Lost Empire ^||2010|
|3||The Kingdom ^||2011|
|4||The Tombs ⚡||2012|
|5||The Mayan Secrets ⚡||September 3, 2013|
|The Adventures of Vin Fiz||2006|
|The Adventures of Hotsy Totsy||2010|
(*) indicates books co-authored with Paul Kemprecos
(†) indicates books co-authored with Graham Brown
(‡) indicates books co-authored with Craig Dirgo.
(§) indicates books co-authored with Jack DuBrul.
(‖) indicates books co-authored with Justin Scott.
(^) indicates books co-authored with Grant Blackwood.
(⚡) indicates books co-authored with Thomas Perry.
|Dirk Pitt||Main character of the Dirk Pitt Adventure Series, and Director of NUMA|
|Al Giordino||Dirk Pitt's Sidekick|
|Admiral James Sandecker||Retired Admiral, Original Director of NUMA, now the Vice President|
|Rudi Gunn||2nd in command NUMA|
|Dirk Pitt, Jr.||Son of Dirk Pitt|
|Summer Pitt||Daughter of Dirk Pitt|
|Kurt Austin||Main Character of The NUMA Series, and Special Assignments Team Leader|
|Joe Zavala||Kurt Austin's Sidekick, and Member of the Special Assignments Team|
|Paul Trout||Member of the Special Assignments Team|
|Gamay Trout||Member of the Special Assignments Team|
|Loren Smith||Congress Woman, and wife of Dirk Pitt|
|St. Julien Perlmutter||Nautical Historian|
|Hala Kamil||Secretary General of the U.N.|
|Juan Cabrillo||Chairman||Main Character of The Oregon Files|
|Linda Ross||Vice President after truitt retires|
|Eddie Seng||Director of Ground Affairs|
|Richard "Dick" Truitt||Vice president until book 3|
|Hali Kasim||Communications Specialist|
|Bob Meadows||gun dog|
|Carl Gannon||procurment specialist|
|Mark Murphy||Weapons Specialist/IT|
|Chuck "Tiny" Gunderson||Pilot|
|George "Gomez" Adams||Chopper Pilot|
|Franklin Lincoln||Lead Gundog|
|Jerry Pulaski||Killed on mission in Argentina/ gun dog|
|Kevin Nixon||Manages "The Magic Shop" (Wardrobe & Disguise)|
Van Dorn Detective Agency
- Joseph Van Dorn
- Isaac Bell
- Glenn Irvine
- Arthur Curtis
- Horace Bronson
- Nicholas Alexander
- Mack Fulton
- Wally Kisley
- Eddie Edwards
- "Texas" Walt Hatfield
- Archie Abbott
- John Scully
- James Dashwood (from the San Francisco office.)
- Marion Morgan
- "Clive Cussler". Retrieved 2007-02-16.
- "NUMA.Net Clive Cussler Biography" (Web Article). Retrieved 2007-10-06.
- Cussler, Clive; Dirgo, Craig. Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt Revealed. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-02622-4.
- "TV.Com Clive Cussler Biography" (Web Article). Retrieved 2007-02-22.
- "Simon Says.com Clive Cussler Biography" (Web Article). Archived from the original on June 29, 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-22.
- "Bookreporter.com Clive Cussler Biography" (Web Article). Retrieved 2007-02-22.
- Cussler, Clive (2004-10-26). Valhalla Rising. Berkley Trade. Inside dust jacket flap. ISBN 978-0-425-20404-7. 039914787X.
- Cover Story: Time Capsule From The Sea - U.S. News & World Report, July 2-9, 2007
- Jonathan Thompson (2005-01-23). "Dating of wreck's timbers puts wind in sails of the 'Mary Celeste' mystery". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
- "Raise the Titanic". IMDB.com. Retrieved 2008-06-14.
- Glenn F. Bunting, $78 million of red ink?, Los Angeles Times, April 15, 2007.
- Official website
- Official website
- Audio interview with Clive Cussler Talking about The Chase
- Clive Cussler Fans Website
- The Cussler Museum