I’ve had a rough year. I had two dogs die, my house has needed some expensive repairs, and my habit of closely following the news has turned into daily exposure to toxic waste. We all crave simple comforts in difficult times, and I’ve fallen back into an old habit: when I’m in the mood to read comforting trash, I reach for Tom Clancy. And after the current bender, I think we should talk about him a little.
Right now, through time and space, I can hear the question you’re asking yourself: why do I care about the work of some hack writer of right-wing airport trash who’s been dead for a decade? And that’s a good question, one I’ve been wrestling with inside my head for a while now. I have a few solid answers: first, because the work of said dead right-wing hack writer really does provide a perfect encapsulation of one of the dominant forces in our dyspeptic, sliding-through-disasters-towards-even-greater-disasters political system, and to understand that is to understand another corner of the current ongoing shitshow. Tom Clancy’s books are by, of, and for Boomer Dads, and if understanding the mind of the Boomer Dad isn’t sufficient to understanding what the hell is happening in this country, I think it’s at least necessary.
More than that, though: I can’t prove if this is a case of causation or just correlation, but it strikes me that the raw ubiquity of Tom Clancy a few decades ago may actually have helped get us into this mess to begin with. I don’t know if he was just giving (a big section of) the people what they wanted, or if he was actually shaping thought (my guess, as with all things cultural, is some of both), but I know this: in the 1980s and 1990s in the rural Midwest, I saw a hell of a lot of Tom Clancy paperbacks on racks in grocery checkout lines and exactly 0 copies of the National Review. Clear and Present Danger was the bestselling book of the 1980s. That has to mean something.
And finally: I think it’s weird and worth examining why I—and other people I talk to about this—find this crap so comforting. What’s the draw?
SO LET’S TALK ABOUT THE CLANCY OUEVRE
Let’s start by taking a quick look at the body of work itself. Tom Clancy’s story actually starts out as a fairly heartwarming one, a variation of the standard American writer fantasy. He was an insurance salesman with an interest in the military and a yen to write. Carving out time on the side, he worked on a thriller about submarines and espionage between the United States and Soviet Union.
The manuscript, which became The Hunt for Red October, was shopped around to various publishers and roundly rejected until it was picked up and published by the US Naval Institute Press in 1984. Against the odds, the book exploded, even gaining praise from Ronald Reagan (I am emphatically not a fan of Ronald Reagan, but I can definitely see how it would both be a cool thing and be a big sales driver to have him publicly saying nice things about your book). Proceeds from having a phenomenal best seller and the option money from a pretty fun movie adaptation allowed Clancy to stop selling insurance and write full time.
The Hunt for Red October, a straightforward story about spies and submarines, is Clancy’s best, most fun work. October centers on two characters: a Russian (well, Russian-Lithuanian) submarine captain who has become disillusioned with the Soviet system, and Jack Ryan, a regular-guy CIA analyst. The Soviet captain shuffled offstage to become a recurring character after this book, but Jack Ryan turned into the cornerstone of Clancy’s books. Remember his name.
Clancy followed Red October up with Red Storm Rising, a non-Jack Ryan book that is the World War III-Wargame version of the godforsaken phenomenon of someone recording their Dungeons and Dragons sessions and then writing a book about it. After Storm, all of Clancy’s novels were set in the “Ryanverse,” tracking the development of Jack Ryan’s increasingly less plausible career or occasionally fleshing out the backstory of a secondary character.
Patriot Games (1987), a prequel, told the story of how a brush with Irish terrorists got Jack Ryan involved with the CIA to begin with (the book doubles as a 540-page boner for the English Royal Family, including several scenes of Jack Ryan in full author-stand-in mode becoming pals with Prince Charles). The Cardinal of the Kremlin (1988) is a straightforward CIA-vs-KGB spy story centering on antiballistic missile defense programs. Clear and Present Danger (1989) postulates that the war on drugs could be won if we just let the military handle it.
Danger also marks the first of the series of books where Jack Ryan sheds his “everyday-guy” persona (albeit an everyday guy who’s a self-made millionaire, was in the Marines, and is bestest personal pals with Prince Charles) and begins vaulting up the ranks of the executive branch of the United States government; here, he becomes one of the top people at the CIA. In The Sum of All Fears (1991), he’s the #2 man at the CIA, essentially running it, as a dubiously-motivated coalition of Palestinian, Native American, and East German terrorists work together to nuke the Super Bowl.
1993’s Without Remorse is another prequel, set in the Vietnam era and giving the backstory of CIA agent John Clark, another frequent Clancy supporting character; it turns out that drugs and traitorous liberals caused problems for America in Vietnam.
In our universe, a terrorist attack that knocked down two buildings and killed 3,000 people kicked off a military expansion and a series of wars that have yet to fully end, 18 years later; in the Ryanverse, a nuclear attack that kills at least 100,000 people in the city of Denver somehow leads to shifty liberals cutting the military so drastically that India and Japan team up to push us around in 1994’s Debt of Honor. Fortunately, by this point, National Security Advisor Jack Ryan is on the case to stop them; he does such a good job that he’s named Vice President just before a disgruntled Japanese pilot crashes a plane into the US Capitol during the State of the Union address (to give Clancy credit: he did a poor job of predicting what the aftermath of a 9/11-style attack would be, but he was awfully prescient in predicting the method). Jack Ryan, one of the few survivors, is sworn in as president.
The books continue, but I’ll stop there. From Debt of Honor onwards, whatever elements that were fun about the books previously are gone, as they march onward into right-wing paranoia and the kind of terminal ongoing-franchise-small-universe syndrome where the children of original characters are pairing up romantically. Eventually, co-authors stepped in, making the transition all the easier for other authors to carry on after Clancy’s death. I have to come clean; I haven’t read any of those. The returns diminish pretty sharply in the 1990s, and the wise reader knows when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em (an aphorism quoted by Jack Ryan in Patriot Games when he’s teaching a class on naval strategy).
I’ve been glib relating the plots of these books, but I want to be clear: before the rot set in, Clancy’s books are fun to read, depending on how your reading taste is calibrated. They’re always kind of silly and very sexist (and MAN will we be talking more about that soon), but Clancy has a lot of authorial skill in whisking a reader along through intricate, zippy plots. Consider an enthusiastic Amazon review of Clear and Present Danger (review headline: DRUGS): “Some intense action, military and flying, with lots of political infighting and intrigue. Good story by a master story teller.” Every book comes covered in jacket copy praising its page-turner qualities.
The real world is a complicated, morally ambiguous place, and it can be relaxing to step into Clancy’s world of clear right and wrong (however damaging this point of view might be when it seeps back out into reality). And it’s often fun to spend time with enthusiasts who want to tell you all about the thing they’re interested in, and how they work; such is the case with Clancy, although the things he’s interested in are submarines and helicopters and nuclear bombs. No less an intellectual darling than David Foster Wallace (himself a different kind of problematic white male writer) took time to praise the skill with which Clancy could park the narrative for a while to walk you through the way a nuclear bomb works.
All of Clancy’s books are pulpy trash; but up until Debt of Honor, a surprisingly high percentage of them are very fun pulpy trash. It’s no surprise that these books were popular, especially during the Reagan and Bush years. By accident or design, their appeal was mainly to white men; but that’s a pretty large book-buying demographic, and (unfortunately) also the group with the most hands on the levers of power.
JUNK FOOD IS BAD FOR YOU
Tom Clancy wrote some of the whitest, malest books ever written. I don’t think this was intentional; if anything, he seems to have specifically tried to be inclusive, with bizarre results. But despite his efforts, his books are a crystallization of white male straight Christianity (Catholicism, to be exact) as the default point of view. There’s Jack Ryan himself, of course, the fairly clear authorial-insert/aspirational character (I am 95% sure that Jack Ryan’s house as described in Patriot Games is Tom Clancy’s house, down to the name of the street it’s on). Ryan’s virtues, of which we’re reminded constantly both by his internal monologue and as other characters tell him how awesome he is (always a sure sign of an authorial insert) are that he’s smart (partially because of Jesuit education), that he’s principled (unlike anyone else in government except for most of the military and a few people at the FBI), and that he’s bad at politics because he’s a good man.
It’s not just Ryan, running around exemplifying white male virtue. The second most-prominent character in Clancy is CIA operative and former SEAL John Clark, who is essentially Jack Ryan with more military experience and less education (like Ryan, and like Clancy himself, Clark constantly muses on his Irish ancestry, by the way). And, crucially, Ryan and Clark exist in (and climb to the top of) a white, male, straight, Christian power structure. Presidents, CIA officials, FBI officials, members of the military, diplomats, business leaders; the supporting casts of Clancy’s books are overwhelmingly white, male, and straight (usually Christian, but occasionally Jewish), even more so than in the real world.
Other points of view can exist in the books, with varying levels of tolerance, but they’re defined by their deviance from whiteness, maleness, or straightness. Thus, Robby Jackson isn’t a fighter pilot, he’s a black fighter pilot (who edges into very poorly-written Black Vernacular English when he’s angry). Helen D’Agustino isn’t a Secret Service agent, she’s the female Secret Service agent (who’s pretty but jokes around like Just Like the Boys and sure has a pair of brass ones). Alan Trent isn’t just a powerful Congressman, he’s a powerful gay Congressman (whom both the omnisicient narrator and Jack Ryan both hold at arm’s length with a clearly struggled-with disgust, falling on words like “proclivities” and “eccentricities”). In a very real sense, whenever a person of color appears in one of these books as a member of the military or law enforcement, you can almost hear the narrative saying “he’s one of the good ones.”
In the context of any one given individual book, this is just a case of a crappy job at representation. In the aggregate, though, it becomes something much larger and worse: a solid enshrinement of a point of view as the correct one.
The collected works of most writers have a metanarrative, an overarching theme that emerges if you look hard enough. The metanarrative of Hemingway is that it’s tough to be a manly-enough man; the metanarrative of Peanuts is that Charlie Brown must always lose in the end. With Clancy, the metanarrative, the secret key to all of the books’ plots, is that Jack Ryan (or John Clark) is always right. Usually, he’s right because of things he learned from Jesuits or from going to Mass, or just from values and abilities handed down from his Irish-American policeman father. The books add up to thousands of pages’ worth of argument that things will be ok if we would just listen to the straight white Catholic guy. Beyond Ryan, the homogeneity of the supporting cast matters because of the low-key way it communicates that this is the way things are, and the way they should be.
BUT WHAT ABOUT BOOMERS?
Tom Clancy, born in 1947, was a boomer. Jack Ryan’s fictional birth was in 1950, putting him squarely in the box. But it’s much more than fictional demographics that make Jack Ryan a Boomer. Clancy’s bone-deep Boomerism seeps through into both the authorial stand-in character he wrote and the narrative of the booms themselves. Here are a few of the character traits that flag Jack Ryan (and the omniscient narrator of Clancy’s books) as Boomer Dad exemplars.
The books are obsessed with the logistics of getting from place to place. If an airport can be name-dropped, it will be, as well as the airlines involved and the models of planes being flown. Trips by car will always have their route discussed, with attention paid to traffic, efficiency, and how the driver knows a special shortcut. Spend five minutes talking to a Boomer dad, especially a Midwestern one, and this will all become immediately familiar.
Similarly, Ryan in particular and other characters in general are always pleased when they get a good parking spot. Better yet, a reserved one. This is inherently something worth crowing about every time it happens.
A vanishingly high percentage of characters in Clancy used to smoke, had to stop, and are constantly looking for a stress-induced excuse to start up again. This immediately brings to mind the stereotype of the henpecked Boomer Dad who just wants to enjoy a smoke but suffers under all the well-meaning health scolds in his life.
The same thing holds true, but for higher stakes, with alcohol. Jack Ryan spends a disconcerting amount of time (especially for an authorial-insert character) reassuring himself that he’s not an alcoholic.
I can speak from direct experience that real-world Boomer Dads take football at least as seriously as religion (my childhood home had holes punched in the wall from instances when the Nebraska Cornhuskers did something disappointing). Both Jack Ryan and the narrator are obsessed with football; it’s taken for granted that all American characters care deeply about what’s up in the NFL, and foreign characters are bemused but impressed by it. The Sum of All Fears’ conflation of an attack on America with an attack on the Super Bowl is pretty revealing on this front.
At one point, an entire narrative is parked so that we can hear about how Jack Ryan mows his lawn, and how said lawn-mowing is crucial to his sense of identity.
All over both Boomer political discourse (and humor) and the Clancy narrative is a persistent sense of racial and gender essentialism. Irish people are like this, Italian people are like that, Black people are monolithic, and so on. The foregrounding of Ryan’s and Clark’s Irishness has already been noted. No less weird is the way an American naval officer who happens to have an Italian last name idly muses about shooting people who annoy him with a shotgun, the way his Sicilian ancestors would have; nor the way the interior monologue of Clancy’s lone Native American character is constantly wandering into reverie about living in tipis and hunting buffalo. Most uncomfortable of all is the repeated fetishization of muscular Black drill instructors; one of them is nicknamed “Son of Kong.”
A character in The Hunt for Red October makes withering comments about how that rock stuff’ll ruin your ears, while the poor owner of said ruined ears congratulates himself for owning some “vintage Janis Joplin tapes.” It’s hard to get more Boomer than this.
The degree of this varies from book to book, but the shadow of Vietnam, perhaps the prime Boomer formative touchstone, looms over Clancy’s oeuvre. Military characters and John Clark reminisce about it, both about specific military-utilitarian things they did (this helicopter flight reminded the Colonel of a mission back in ‘Nam!) and about the way the military was in bad shape in those days because of poor morale and drug use; this latter mode generally comes up in a context that makes it clear that America is being Made Great Again. Military action undertaken during the course of the plots of the books is often contrasted with Vietnam, in that it this time it has a purpose, or now the gloves have been taken off, or whatever. Underlying everything is the familiar Boomer refrain that the military was stabbed in the back by the public and crooked politicians in Vietnam.
The gender politics of these books merit their own essay, but the Boomerness of such is firmly established by the fact that feminism is still referred to as “women’s lib” in books Clancy wrote in the 1990s. The state of “liberated” women in Clancy is extremely Male Boomer: they’re free to get jobs and excel at them, but only if they get their womanly chores done (it’s stated explicitly that Cathy Ryan, a world-class surgeon and professor of surgery, is also solely on the hook for feeding the Ryan kids in the morning and getting them ready for school in the morning, as well as cooking dinner; other jokes scattered liberally throughout the books make it clear that this is the case in every Clancyverse household). Every time a female character is introduced into a scene, no matter what her job is, her appearance and dress will be remarked upon; it’s not uncommon at all for male characters to muse about what she’s like in bed. Clancy women who are sufficiently cool and competent are fine with some on-the-job sexual harassment, and are happy to dish it out as well as taking it. The shitty old basic assumption of “men are rational, women are emotional” is taken for granted, and nearly leads to nuclear war in The Sum of All Fears (which also features a fascinating-but-slightly-outside-of-the-scope-of-this-piece woman-to-woman confrontation where being accused in public of owning a vibrator is the most devastating interpersonal putdown on the planet). And throughout Clancy, whenever possible, women be shoppin’.
At this late date, it occurs to me that maybe all of this Boomer-dadness is part of the books’ appeal as comforting trash. Reading them really is like spending time with a Boomer Dad. You know he’s kind of crusty and old-fashioned and wrong about everything, but there’s still a fundamental comfort in being around someone who’s so goddamned confident that he can handle everything, and who inexplicably thinks that mowing the lawn is an important identity marker.
OK. These are Boomer books. So what? Since at least 2008, one of the defining faultlines of American life has been the struggle over whether the white, straight, male, Christian point of view was going to remain the default one for the American power structure, or whether things would be opened up to such a point that it was a way to be but not necessarily the way to be. Part of this, of course, was spurred by the election of Barack Obama and the freakout it triggered in the American right (what was birtherism, after all, but a frantic attempt to prove that no, that man isn’t really our President). Equally, and very intertangledly, it marks the generational estuary when the Boomers began to age out of power and Millenials aged into it (as with all contemporary generational analyses, Gen X is just a bystander here). And the alignment is quite clear: white, straight, male Christian centrality is an extremely Boomer outlook, while tolerant pluralism sits comfortably in the millennial weelhouse.
If the howling shitshow of the American right for the past ten years has largely been a Boomer counterreformation raging against the dying of the light, it stands to reason that we can understand the mess we’re in by understanding the mindset. And Clancy gives us that. Jack Ryan certainly isn’t Donald Trump. But Ryan’s (inevitably right) actions once he becomes President aren’t far removed from things Trump has done or proposed doing: cut taxes and regulation to get government out of the way of business, which knows best. Renegotiate trade deals so that sneaky foreign countries stop taking advantage of goodhearted Americans. Pump money into the military and finally take the gloves off and get tough with our enemies (this one lines up more with Trump’s campaign rhetoric than with his actual course of action in office). And on and on. Jack Ryan’s perspective is one that most Trump supporters would find comforting and appealing; the world where Jack Ryan, Boomer Dad, is always right is one where most MAGA hat wearers would enjoy living in.
Moreover, the worldview of these books is the worldview of a big chunk of the Republican Party. These books might be the soil from which Fox News grew, or they might be another plant that grew out of the same soil. Again, I’m not sure of the cause and effect, although the ubiquity of these goddamned books 30 years ago had to have had some impact. I do know that the idea that most members of an ethnic group are inclined to act the same way is one of the fundamental underpinnings of immigration hysteria.
Also, American Conservatism has changed in some fundamental ways over the past few decades, getting steadily more paranoid and less attached to reality; consider the drift from George H. W. Bush’s conservative Realpolitik to Trump’s model of international relations as reality show, surprise twists and all. Bizarrely, the course of Clancy’s books mirrors and anticipates this shift, with their slow but steady move from “here’s a story about action between rivals in the late part of the Cold War” to “here’s the latest combination of unrelated international terrorists and malefactors who have cobbled together an unlikely scheme to stick it to America.” Parts of The Hunt for Red October read like something put together to teach submarine crew members how to do their jobs; most of Debt of Honor reads like it was jointly written by Lou Dobbs and Jim Cramer as they worked their way through a large bag of cocaine.
I started out talking about these books as trashy mental comfort food. And they kind of are. Having a poor relationship with my own real-world Boomer Dad (my last communication with him was an email in 2002 where he offered to pay for me to change my last name), it’s comforting at first to read straightforward adventure stories where there’s no moral ambiguity and the Boomer Dads are in control. But after serially powering through a mountain of Clancy, I feel like I did the garbage-literature version of the (mythical?) thing where your parents catch you smoking and make you smoke an entire carton of cigarettes as punishment. This total immersion does strange things to one’s brain. You can’t help but stare into the face of the fact that the comforting Boomer Dad is a closed-minded racist with preposterously sexist ideas and a disastrously simplified view of how the world works.
And then you open a news site and look at the world we live in, the world wrought by the Boomer Dads drunk on Fox News. And if you’re like me, you reach for The Sum of All Fears thinking that maybe if you can figure out what the fuck they’re thinking you’ll be less battered by it all.
16 thoughts on “TOM CLANCY AND THE DUBIOUS COMFORT OF BOOMER DADS”
Oh this would fit my (Boomer, born in 46) Dad to a tee. The man loved Clancy. Loved. I read Red October, Red Storm Rising, and Cardinal of the Kremlin, never anything else. Since Clancy was local for us (Baltimore) he was a huge celebrity (also strong rumor was that Clark was based on a man who lived in my neighborhood).
I think you’re dead on about the Boomer Dad mindset; as you say, cause&effect harder to pin down.
Funny story related to Clancy: in the 6th grade, my English teacher, a horrible old woman who was every bit as mean and every bit as child-hating as the worst teacher you’ve ever heard of, started asking us if we knew who “John Clancy” was. Nobody did. We get 10 minutes of being berated for what idiots we are, how have we never heard of this great local writer.
I had Red Storm Rising under my desk because I was reading it. I finally realize this awful woman has the wrong name, hold the book up, and say, “Do you mean TOM Clancy?”
This did not improve her mood.
my dad was military, born in 1946, seriously into these books. thanks to his library card they were some of the first full-length novels i would read as a child. i agree about the cutoff point where they veer from entertainingly polemical into deranged-ly polemical. the thing that always most infuriated me about clancy was the way you can see he understands he is being disingenuous about the specifics of the open political questions he invokes. the man wasn’t an idiot, but perhaps he thought he was providing a service to the country. by the 1990s it should have been clear to any rational adult that the effects of all this1980s winking jingoistic fanfare were devolving the discourse into tribalism even more pronounced than that of the 1960s. more like the decades leading up to the civil war. as a student of history this would have been obvious to clancy. so, what was he thinking?
Your description of Red Storm Rising as the WWIII version of a D&D campaign novelization is too on the nose – Tom Clancy and Larry Bond actually DID wargame out the whole thing and then turn that into the book.
My dad was a Boomer and loved Tom Clancy back in the 80s and early 90s, then lost interest in Clancy and started reading Clive Cussler.
I always got the impression that Clancy was “In on the joke”, but had an authorial voice to maintain.
As a Catholic Irish-Mexican I sensed that even Protestants are “they” in the books, which seemed natural given that I had grown up amongst people that thought a French-German Episcopalian very much a foreigner, even though most people would lump them together as white Judeo-Christian Americans.
Great read and take on Tom Clancy. I’m glad I caught it fresh, I never see things when they are new on the Internet, so I’m excited.
Thanks to everybody for commenting! I love that you dug the piece, and it’s really cool to hear other peoples’ perspectives on the Clance.
There’s definitely a strain of Boomer Dad who read Robert Heinlein or Ayn Rand as a teenager and walked away feeling like philosopher kings. They have massive respect for authority but also think there are countless times when a man (including CIA, police, military, etc) has to take the law into his own hands.
They also read:
– David Morrell’s “First Blood” series (RAMBO!)
– Louis L’Amour
– Tom Clancy
– Any number of pulp vigilante tales (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7CyrSgfVQ4)
Yeah, you are seriously on to something here. I recall constantly telling people during the Bush II regime that our government should not be run by people who think the real world resembles a Tom Clancy novel. I hadn’t thought about how pervasive that worldview might be outside the Beltway. Thanks for a very thoughtful piece.
I had a very similar experience, although my dad doesn’t completely fit the mold: he was born in ’39, but grew up Protestant on a farm in Maryland right outside the Beltway, and I introduced him to Hunt for Red October as a shy 15-year-old who was reading everything I could (my mom was a librarian) from Clancy to Lovecraft to Joyce Carol Oates and John Crowley. After I stayed up all night my freshman year in college to finish Red Storm Rising, I started getting the books for him for his birthday, and yes, the books follow precisely the trajectory you describe, though at the time I wasn’t aware enough to recognize much of it beyond being seriously alarmed about the jingoistic and despotic implications of Clear and Present Danger. But yeah, by the time I got to Debt of Honor and Executive Orders (where I stopped), I was like, “OK, this is some right-wing wish-fulfillment stuff.” Years later, I was looking for some trashy junk reading to distract myself from grad school stuff and thought I would try picking up with The Bear and the Dragon and couldn’t make it past the first 30 pages for all the over-the-top misogyny and penis-focused solipsism.
Your point about junk food certainly lines up with observations that Andrew Bacevich, a much more insightful writer on military matters, has made about Clancy. I love the fact that Clancy tried ROTC but couldn’t get commissioned because of myopia: somehow totally appropriate.
The last Clancy I read was ‘Executive Orders’, Ryan-as-President solves Iran-Iraq. I think it’s interesting that Clancy chose a set of premises there that served his goal while being so unlikely that he could never be called on it:
a) the entire government is basically decapitated but it’s not by enemy action per se but a lone wolf airline pilot swiftly denounced
b) Saddam Hussein is assassinated by the agents of the Ayatollah, enabling Iran to rather easily take over Iraq and kick up their biological weapons program
c) Ryan and his family are the targets of an assassination plot that relies upon the notions that people from Muslim countries can never be trusted, no matter how seemingly secular, and that the US government will both tolerate them in sensitive roles but monitor them for their inevitable betrayal
d) Clark and Chavez can personally infiltrate Tehran and laser-guide the bomb that assassinates the Ayatollah in retaliation
Two questions: what does Chavez say about non-whites “assimilating sufficiently” through US military service (I believe he marries Clark’s daughter?) and is ‘The West Wing’ the Boomer liberal answer to Clancy?
I think you’re totally right that Chavez works as Clancy’s guide for The Right Way to Assimilate, since he just turns himself into Clark with some occasional Spanish exclamations, and then marrying the daughter works as a weird reward. That whole arc is prettty strange if you look at it from a distance.
I didn’t watch enough West Wing to know for sure if it’s the full-on Boomer liberal counterpart, but I like that a lot as an idea!
Back in 1990, when Tom Clancy was considering running for congress (Senate, I believe?) I was dragged by my girlfriend’s family to a MD republican’s club dinner to hear him give a political speech. Being in high school at the time, I was pretty surprised to hear that the real reason black people “in the ghetto” were struggling was because of how LBJ’s Great Society ruined families, and how we needed to cut all the socialism and get much tougher on crime to save the country. So…yeah, about what you’d expect based on his books.
Non-american millennial here. Currently deployed in South Sudan, and binge-read the whole series I guess. Ryan-verse and non-ryan books both. I found myself to be agreeing with you on so many points that I felt almost obligated to respond. My first book of TC was Red Storm Rising. Since there was very less politics there, I thought oh okay, this man writes quite the depiction of wargames. Techno-thriller is the world I believe. Then I read The Hunt for Red October and start smelling the things slowly. 3 books in, I was just shuffling through pages to search for the tactical/military actions scenes and skipping the political ideological padding, then doubling back to glimpse if anything important was missed. Tom Clancy epitomizes MAGA worldview, the examples are bright as a day if you’re not living in the ‘Fox’hole. I’m not going to repeat what you’ve already pointed out but add some honorable mentions.
– (I think Rainbow Six): The private consortium planning to use a biological weapon to cull world population is nobody else other than an environmentalist aka ‘tree hugger’. Living in 2019, what are the odd chances of that? Hasn’t there been already many psychopaths who wanted only the master race to survive? How many of these were caring of the environment? But Tom Clancy HAD to pick the to-be mass-murderers out of the ‘tree-huggers’.
– (the one with the Colombia op): Meteorologists do not know how a cyclone is formed. They just do through some divine intervention. Deliberate though in the explanation of how SDI-workable laser works, he couldn’t care less of a natural disaster’s scientific footprint.
– Japanese cars are bad. In the fuel tank, exactly. LOL.
– Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. No reasons received, they’re the good guys. FACT. The prince is even US Army graduated (this is real anyway, many of those do go in the west and buy their commission from West Point, Annapolis and Dartmouth).
– Palestinians are scum of the earth. It starts that way, it ends that way.
– The UN is mostly worthless, except for the world-savior American President giving his speech there. UN resolutions are something of a side-table paperwork, delegated to some diplomat handling that front while the mighty and righteous US military do what’s needed. This has been repeated several times, with very minor footprint.
– Iran is bad. That country doesn’t even have a face of government, it’s essentially run by terrorists.
– Israel obtaining unauthorized nuclear materials from US, then proceeding to weaponize number of bombs is a sweep-under-the-rug side story. We don’t want to see what happened next because Ismael Qati, the Palestinian terrorist with his friends of benefit native-american have nuked Denver.
– How many children does Ryan have? I lost count at last. Lady Ryan is quite the machine. Somehow, having 5+ kids couldn’t have at least slowed down her career, at all. Like each 9 months of pregnancy and managing 5+ kids is nothing. Women please note: Being a good baby-machine, cooking loving wife doesn’t have to do anything with your careers. Go ask your husband for another baby.
Sgt Zimmer (KIA in Colombia Op) had also done some ‘bird hatching’ of 7 kids.
Aaah, the irony of boomers. Probably if we all weren’t so intoxicated with alt-right-wing shit nowadays, Tom Clancy’s boomerism would’ve gone unnoticed. I read these things and I think, oh yeah, these are the people.
Sorry for your dogs mate. Take care and live long, if they let us, probably.
Hey, thanks a lot for the comment and the observations! I think I agree with you across the board, and glad you dug the essay. Be well and stay safe!
Thank you so much for this review. I just picked up Clancy recently, after finding myself out of Jack Reacher books to read. And honestly, the pulpy trashiness comfort in those (Reacher) was not found in these (Ryan). Couldn’t read past the first I picked up, which was patriot games. The way Lady Ryan is depicted (along with Sissy, Robby’s wife) is bad enough, but the way Tom Clancy free forms his thought process is unattractive. I picked up Red Rabbit from there & a small way in I had to give up. He isn’t fun trashiness, not in today’s world (which is a very good thing in my view) & he isn’t “classical” either, his writing isn’t sharp enough for that. I’m going to be looking at your blog to find more recommendations.