The Sum of All Fears
|The Sum of All Fears|
First edition cover art
|Series||Jack Ryan universe|
|Publication date||1991 (1st Edition)|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|Pages||798 pp (Hardback Edition)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-399-13615-0 (Hardback Edition)|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.54 20|
|LC Classification||PS3553.L245 S8 1991|
|Preceded by||Clear and Present Danger|
|Followed by||Debt of Honor|
The title is a reference to nuclear war, and to the plot by the novel's antagonists to reconstruct a lost nuclear weapon. The title itself comes from a quote by Winston Churchill, serving as the first of the novel's two epigraphs:
Why, you may take the most gallant sailor, the most intrepid airman or the most audacious soldier, put them at a table together - what do you get? The sum of their fears.—Winston Churchill
In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, the Israeli Defense Force prepares for a tactical nuclear strike to stave off defeat. After the Syrian Army is halted in the Golan Heights, the necessity for the strike is averted, but a Mark 12 nuclear bomb is accidentally left on an Israeli attack aircraft, which is subsequently shot down over Syria. The nuclear weapon is lost, buried in the field of a Druze farmer.
Eighteen years later, in 1991, an unarmed Palestinian protester is killed by an Israeli police official, coincidentally the brother of the downed Israeli pilot. The United States finds itself unable to diplomatically defend Israel, yet knows it cannot withdraw its support without risk of destabilizing the Middle East. A clever plan to accelerate the peace process is put into action, based on Jack Ryan's indirect contact with the Vatican. The plan is supported by the Soviet Union and Saudi Arabia. To everyone's surprise, Ryan's plan seems to work.
However, National Security Advisor Elizabeth Elliott has a vendetta against Ryan and attempts to discredit him, exploiting her romance with the widowed President Robert Fowler to do so. Elliott engineers a smear campaign accusing Ryan of engaging in an extramarital affair. Ryan's marriage is endangered until his friends, John Clark and Domingo Chavez, reveal the truth to Ryan's wife Cathy. Ryan decides to resign, but not before he puts together a covert operation involving the uncovering of a deal between corrupt Japanese and Mexican government officials.
Meanwhile, a small group of PFLP terrorists, enraged at the looming failure of their campaign to erase Israel's existence, come across the lost Israeli bomb and use it to construct their own weapon, using the bomb's plutonium as fissile material. The terrorists enlist the help of disenfranchised East German physicist Manfred Fromm, who agrees to the plot in order to exact revenge for his country's reunification as a capitalist democratic state. With Fromm's expertise, the terrorists are able to enhance the weapon and turn it into a thermonuclear device.
The terrorists agree to detonate the weapon during the Super Bowl in Denver, Colorado, planned to coincide with a false flag attack on American forces in Berlin by East Germans disguised as Soviet soldiers. The terrorists' goal is to start a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. The East Germans hope that the war will eliminate both superpowers and punish them for betraying World Socialism, while the Palestinians hope the attack will end American aid to Israel. The Palestinians kill their East German associates as soon as they are no longer needed.
Due to an assembly error, the weapon fizzles. However, thousands of people at the Super Bowl are killed, including the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State. With the attacks in Berlin, the United States briefly assumes DEFCON-1 status as President Fowler and Elliott prepare a nuclear assault. The crisis is averted when Ryan, after learning of the domestic origin for the bomb's plutonium, gains access to the Hot Line and communicates directly with the Soviet president, defusing the conflict.
When the terrorists are captured and interrogated (with the use of torture) by Clark in Mexico City, they implicate the Iranian Ayatollah in the attack. President Fowler orders the Ayatollah's residence in the holy city of Qom to be destroyed by a nuclear strike. After Ryan averts the attack by enforcing the two-man rule, Ryan lies and claims that Qom was destroyed. The terrorists then reveal that Iran was not involved, and that their deceit was meant to discredit the United States and destroy the peace process, allowing the campaign against Israel to continue. President Fowler is subsequently forced from office following the process established in the U.S. Constitution after suffering a nervous breakdown.
The terrorists are beheaded in Riyadh by the commander of Saudi special forces using an ancient sword owned by the Saudi royal family. Later, the sword is presented to Ryan as a gift. In the sequels, the gift inspires Ryan's Secret Service codename of "Swordsman."
See also