Tom Clancy

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Tom Clancy
Tom Clancy at Burns Library cropped.jpg
Clancy at Boston College's Burns Library in November 1989
Born Thomas Leo Clancy, Jr.
(1947-04-12)April 12, 1947
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Died October 1, 2013(2013-10-01) (aged 66)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Period 1984–2013
  • Wanda Thomas King (m. 1969; div. 1999)
  • Alexandra Marie Llewellyn (m. 1999; his death 2013)
Children Five

Thomas Leo "Tom" Clancy, Jr. (April 12, 1947 – October 1, 2013) was an American novelist and historian best known for his technically detailed espionage and military science storylines set during and after the Cold War. Seventeen of his novels were bestsellers and more than 100 million copies of his books are in print.[1] His name was also used on movie scripts written by ghost writers, non-fiction books on military subjects and video games. He was a part-owner of the Baltimore Orioles and Vice Chairman of their Community Activities and Public Affairs committees.

Clancy's literary career began in 1984 when he sold The Hunt for Red October for $5,000.[1][2] His works, The Hunt for Red October (1984), Patriot Games (1987), Clear and Present Danger (1989), and The Sum of All Fears (1991), have been turned into commercially successful films with actors Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and Chris Pine all playing Clancy's most famous fictional character Jack Ryan, while his second most famous character, John Clark, has been played by actors Willem Dafoe and Liev Schreiber. Clancy died on October 1, 2013, of an undisclosed illness.[3]

Early life[edit]

Thomas Leo Clancy was born at Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 12, 1947,[4] and grew up in the Northwood neighborhood.[4][2][5] He was the second of three children to Thomas Clancy, who worked for the United States Postal Service, and Catherine Clancy, who worked in a store's credit department.[6][7] His mother worked in order to send him to the private Catholic Loyola Blakefield in Towson, Maryland, from which he graduated in 1965.[4][5][6] He then attended Loyola College (now Loyola University) in Baltimore, graduating in 1969 with a degree in English literature.[4][7] While at university, he was president of the chess club.[6] He joined the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps; however he was ineligible to serve due to his nearsightedness, which required him to wear thick eyeglasses.[1][6] After graduating he worked for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut.[8] In 1973, he joined the O. F. Bowen Agency, a small insurance agency based in Owings, Maryland, founded by his wife's grandfather.[1][6][7][8] In 1980, he purchased the insurance agency from his wife's grandmother, and wrote novels in his spare time.[7][9] While working at the insurance agency, he wrote The Hunt for Red October.[1]

Literary career[edit]

Clancy's literary career began in 1982 when he started writing The Hunt for Red October which in 1984 he sold for publishing to the Naval Institute Press for $5,000.[1][2] The publisher was impressed with the work; Deborah Grosvenor, the Naval Institute Press editor who read through the work, said later that she convinced the publisher: "I think we have a potential best seller here, and if we don’t grab this thing, somebody else would," and considered that Clancy had an "innate storytelling ability, and his characters had this very witty dialogue".[1] The publisher requested Clancy to cut numerous technical details, amounting to about 100 pages.[1] Clancy, who had wanted to sell 5,000 copies, ended up selling over 45,000.[2][9] After publication, the book received praise from President Ronald Reagan, calling the work "the best yarn", subsequently boosting sales to 300,000 hardcover and 2 million paperback copies of the book, making it a national bestseller.[1][2][8] The book was critically praised for its technical accuracy, which led to Clancy's meeting several high-ranking officers in the U.S. military.[1]

Clancy's fiction works, The Hunt for Red October (1984), Patriot Games (1987), Clear and Present Danger (1989), and The Sum of All Fears (1991), have been turned into commercially successful films with actors Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck as Clancy's most famous fictional character Jack Ryan, while his second most famous character, John Clark, has been played by actors Willem Dafoe and Liev Schreiber. All but two of Clancy's solely written novels feature Jack Ryan or John Clark.

The Cold War epic Red Storm Rising, co-written (according to Clancy himself in the books foreword) with fellow military-oriented author Larry Bond, was published in 1986.

The first NetForce novel (titled Net Force and published in 1999) was adapted as a 1999 TV movie starring Scott Bakula and Joanna Going. The first Op-Center novel was released to coincide with a 1995 NBC television mini-series of the same name (Tom Clancy's Op-Center published in 1995) starring Harry Hamlin and a cast of stars. Though the mini-series did not continue, the book series did, but it had little in common with the first mini-series other than the title and the names of the main characters.

With the release of The Teeth of the Tiger (2003), Clancy introduced Jack Ryan's son and two nephews as main characters; these characters continued in his last four novels, Dead or Alive (2010), Locked On (2011), Threat Vector (2012), and Command Authority (2013).

Clancy wrote several nonfiction books about various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces (see non-fiction listing, below). Clancy also branded several lines of books and video games with his name that are written by other authors, following premises or storylines generally in keeping with Clancy's works. These are sometimes referred to by fans as "apostrophe" books; Clancy did not initially acknowledge that these series were being authored by others; he only thanked the actual authors in the headnotes for their "invaluable contribution to the manuscript".

By 1988, Clancy had earned $1.3 million for The Hunt for Red October and had signed a $3 million contract for his next three books.[10] By 1997, it was reported that Penguin Putnam Inc. (part of Pearson Education) would pay Clancy $50 million for world rights to two new books, and another $25 million to Red Storm Entertainment for a four-year book/multimedia deal.[11] Clancy followed this up with an agreement with Penguin's Berkley Books for 24 paperbacks to tie in with the ABC television miniseries Tom Clancy's Net Force aired in the fall/winter of 1998. The Op-Center universe has laid the ground for the series of books written by Jeff Rovin, which was in an agreement worth $22 million, bringing the total value of the package to $97 million.[11]

In 1993, Clancy joined a group of investors that included Peter Angelos and bought the Baltimore Orioles from Eli Jacobs.[12][13] In 1998, he reached an agreement to purchase the Minnesota Vikings but had to abandon the deal because of a divorce settlement cost.[14][15]

In 2008, the French video game manufacturer Ubisoft purchased the use of Clancy's name for an undisclosed sum. It has been used in conjunction with video games and related products such as movies and books.[16] Based on his interest in private spaceflight and his US$1 million investment in the launch vehicle company Rotary Rocket,[17] Clancy was interviewed in 2007 for the documentary film Orphans of Apollo (2008).

Political views[edit]

A longtime holder of conservative and Republican views, Clancy's books bear dedications to American conservative political figures, most notably Ronald Reagan. A week after the September 11, 2001 attacks, on The O'Reilly Factor, Clancy suggested that left-wing politicians in the United States were partly responsible for September 11 due to their "gutting" of the Central Intelligence Agency.[18]

On September 11, 2001, Clancy was interviewed by Judy Woodruff on CNN.[19] During the interview, he asserted "Islam does not permit suicide" (see Islam and suicide). Among other observations during this interview, Clancy cited discussions he had with military experts on the lack of planning to handle a hijacked plane being used in a suicide attack and criticized the news media's treatment of the United States Intelligence Community. Clancy appeared again on PBS's Charlie Rose, to discuss the implications of the day's events with Richard Holbrooke, New York Times journalist Judith Miller, and Senator John Edwards, among others.[20] Clancy was interviewed on these shows because his 1994 book Debt of Honor included a scenario where a disgruntled Japanese airline pilot crashes a fueled Boeing 747 into the U.S. Capitol dome during an address by the President to a joint session of Congress, killing the President and most of Congress. This plot device bore strong similarities to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

In later years, Clancy associated himself with General Anthony Zinni, a critic of the George W. Bush administration, and was also critical of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.[21]

Clancy had been a Lifetime Member of the National Rifle Association since 1978.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Clancy and his first wife Wanda Thomas King, a nursing student who became an eye surgeon,[7][23] married in 1969, separated briefly in 1995, and permanently separated in December 1996.[24] Clancy filed for divorce in November 1997,[25] which became final in January 1999.[26]

On June 26, 1999, Clancy married freelance journalist Alexandra Marie Llewellyn, whom he had met in 1997.[27] Llewellyn is the daughter of J. Bruce Llewellyn and a family friend of Colin Powell, who originally introduced the couple to each other.[18] They remained together until Clancy's death in October 2013.[28]

Clancy's estate, which was once a summer camp, is located in Calvert County, Maryland. It is 80 acres (32 ha) and has a panoramic view of the Chesapeake Bay.[29] The stone mansion, which cost US$2 million, has twenty-four rooms and features a shooting range in the basement.[23][29] The property also features a World War II-era M4 Sherman tank, a Christmas gift from his first wife.[29][30]

Clancy also purchased a 17,000 square feet (1,600 m2) penthouse condominium in the Ritz-Carlton in Baltimore's Inner Harbor for US$16 million.[8]


Clancy died on October 1, 2013, of an undisclosed illness[31] at Johns Hopkins Hospital, near his Baltimore home. Clancy is survived by his wife, Alexandra; their daughter, Alexis; and four children from his marriage to Wanda King: Michelle Bandy, Christine Blocksidge, Kathleen Clancy, and Thomas Clancy III.[1] The Chicago Tribune quoted Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stephen Hunter as saying, "When he published The Hunt for Red October he redefined and expanded the genre and as a consequence of that, many people were able to publish such books who had previously been unable to do so."[32]

John D. Gresham, a co-author and researcher with Clancy on several books, attributed Clancy's death to heart problems: "Five or six years ago Tom suffered a heart attack and he went through bypass surgery. It wasn’t that he had another heart attack, [his heart] just wore out."[33]


Video games[edit]

Board games[edit]

Achievements and awards[edit]


Delivering the commencement address to the 1986 graduating class of Loyola University, Clancy offered this passage of wisdom:

"Nothing is as real as a dream. The world can change around you, but your dream will not. Your life may change, but your dream doesn’t have to. Responsibilities need not erase it. Duties need not obscure it. Your spouse and children need not get in its way, because the dream is within you. No one can take your dream away."

Clancy finished his speech with:

"In getting this far, you have fulfilled your parents’ dreams. Now you can start working on your own."[39]

In popular culture[edit]

  • The BBC Radio 4 sitcom Deep Trouble, set on a nuclear submarine, features a humorous version of Clancy as a recurring character. He is portrayed by Ben Willbond, co-writer of the series.[40]
  • He was mentioned in American History X at a family dinner table where Edward Norton's and Edward Furlong's characters were present. The mother of the two characters remarked to the father that they do not teach Tom Clancy at college.
  • In the BBC sitcom My Family, the character Ben Harper, often reads Tom Clancy's novels in bed.
  • Tom Clancy appeared in the The Simpsons episode "Diatribe of a Mad Housewife", wearing a cap saying "USS Iowa (BB-61)" and was tricked into giving Marge Simpson a quote for her upcoming book.[41]
  • On March 31, 2014, the Baltimore Orioles honored Tom Clancy and other members of the Orioles family who passed away since the previous season's opening day with a video tribute during the Orioles Opening Day festivities at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The team will wear a name patch on the right jersey sleeve for Clancy throughout the 2014 season.[42]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bosman, Julie (2013-10-02). "Tom Clancy, Best-Selling Novelist of Military Thrillers, Dies at 66". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Kaltenbach, Chris (2013-10-02). "Clancy invented 'techno-thriller,' reflected Cold War fears". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "Tom Clancy, best-selling author, dead at 66". cbsnews. October 2, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d Clancy, Tom (October 31, 1997). "alt.books.tom-clancy". Retrieved 2012-03-20. 
  5. ^ a b "Tom Clancy: Bibliography and list of works". Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Arnold, Laurence. "Tom Clancy, Whose Novels Conjured Threats to U.S., Dies at 66". Bloomberg. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Woo, Elaine (2013-10-02). "Tom Clancy dies at 66; insurance agent found his calling in spy thrillers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d Rasmussen, Frederick N. (2013-10-03). "Tom Clancy, 'king of the techno-thriller'". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Lippman, Laura (1998-06-13). "THE CLANCY COLD WAR". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 3 October 2013. 
  10. ^ Anderson, Patrick (1 May 1988). "King of the Techno-thriller". New York Times Magazine. 
  11. ^ a b Quinn, Judy (24 August 1997). "$100M Mega-Deals for Clancy". Publishers Weekly 243 (34). 
  12. ^ Mark Hyman; Jon Morgan (22 Apr 1993). "Tom Clancy offers to bid for Orioles with other locals Author would join Angelos, Knott". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 8 Nov 2013. 
  13. ^ Dean Jones Jr (2 Oct 2013). "Best-selling author Tom Clancy's ties to Orioles date to 1993". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 8 Nov 2013. 
  14. ^ Vito Stellino (17 May 1998). "Clancy's Vikings ownership in a holding pattern". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 9 Nov 2013. 
  15. ^ Chris Strauss (2 Oct 2013). "Tom Clancy nearly owned the Minnesota Vikings". USA Today. Retrieved 9 Nov 2013. 
  16. ^ Mitchell, Richard (2008-03-25). "Clancy name bought by Ubisoft, worth big bucks. SOURCE:". Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  17. ^ David, Leonard (2013-10-16). "How Late Author Tom Clancy Supported Private Spaceflight". Retrieved 2013-10-19. 
  18. ^ a b "Tom Clancy". NNDB. 1999-06-26. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  19. ^ 23 October 2007. "Tom Clancy on Sept 11 2001 & WTC 7 Collapse". Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  20. ^ "An hour about the 9/11 attacks". 2001-09-11. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  21. ^ Paperback Writer, The New Republic, May 25, 2004.
  22. ^ LaPierre, Wayne (1994). Guns, Crime, and Freedom. HarperPerennial. p. xiii. ISBN 978-0-06-097674-3. 
  23. ^ a b Christy, Marian (1994-08-19). "Tom Clancy makes it look so simple". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  24. ^ Schindehette, Susan (15 June 1998). "Storm Rising". People Magazine 49 (23): 141. 
  25. ^ Jones, Brent (27 August 2008). "Reconsider Clancy case ruling". Baltimore Sun. 
  26. ^ "Case No. 04-C-03-000749 OC". Circuit Court for Calvert County. Retrieved March 23, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Alexandra Llewellyn, Tom Clancy," The New York Times, June 27, 1999.
  28. ^ Kennedy, John R. (2013-10-02). "Author Tom Clancy dead at 66 - Okanagan". Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  29. ^ a b c Carlson, Peter (1993-06-27). "What ticks Tom Clancy off?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 October 2013. 
  30. ^ "The Cold War of Clancy vs. Clancy". Los Angeles Times. June 30, 1998. 
  31. ^ "Tom Clancy, best-selling author, dead at 66". cbsnews. October 2, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Tom Clancy, author, dead at 66". Chicago Tribune. October 2, 2013. 
  33. ^ US Naval Institute Staff (2013-10-03). "Tom Clancy Dies at 66". US Naval Institute. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  34. ^ "Tom Clancy's Politika | Board Game". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 2011-12-19. 
  35. ^ "Washington Post". Washington Post. 1997-06-01. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  36. ^ "Rensselaer Magazine: Summer 2004: At Rensselaer". Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  37. ^ By Christopher Bucktin Tom Clancy dead: Best-selling author of Jack Ryan novels dies in hospital aged 66 The Mirror
  38. ^ "TC Post: Clancy Speaks Again Briefly". 2000-06-25. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  39. ^ Nothing Is As Real As A Dream (Retrieved May 4, 2014)
  40. ^ Wolf, Ian. "Deep Trouble — Production Details, Plus Regular Cast and Crew". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved October 4, 2009. 
  41. ^
  42. ^ Jones, Jr., Dean. "Orioles announce Opening Day plans, will wear patch for Tom Clancy in 2014". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 31 March 2014. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tom Clancy.

Literary reviews and criticism[edit]