The Slatest

RIP, Tom Clancy

Author Tom Clancy listens to questions during a discussion June 1, 2004 in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Tom Clancy, the author of well-known military and spy thrillers like The Hunt for Red October and Patriot Games, died Tuesday at a hospital in Baltimore. He was 66. His publisher confirmed news of his death but did not disclose a cause.

Clancy found literary fame seemingly out of nowhere in the mid-1980s. He was selling insurance when he made his literary debut with The Hunt for the Red October, a copy of which eventually found its way into the hands of the commander-in-chief. The New York Times with the details:


The book took off when President Ronald Reagan, who had received a copy, called it “my kind of yarn” and said that he couldn’t put it down.

After the book’s publication in 1985, Mr. Clancy was praised for his mastery of technical details about Soviet submarines and weaponry. Even high-ranking members of the military took notice of the book’s apparent inside knowledge. In an interview in 1986, Mr. Clancy said, “When I met Navy Secretary John Lehman last year, the first thing he asked me about the book was, ‘Who the hell cleared it?’ “


The book was later turned into a Hollywood blockbuster in 1990 (staring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin), as were his Jack Ryan sequels Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger (both of which starred Harrison Ford).

Clancy produced a total of 17 No. 1 NYT bestsellers during his nearly 30-year professional writing career. That number will no doubt climb to 18 later this year with the release of his newest book, Command Authority, set to be published in December. One of his bestsellers, Rainbow Six, was adapted to widely successful series of first-person shooter video games.

Slate will have more on Clancy later.

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This post has been updated with additional information.