Tom Clancy

Thomas Leo Clancy Jr. (April 12, 1947 – October 1, 2013) was an American novelist best known for his technically detailed espionage and military-science storylines set during and after the Cold War (1945-1991). Seventeen of his novels were bestsellers, and more than 100 million copies of his books were sold.[1] His name was also used on movie scripts written by ghostwriters, nonfiction books on military subjects occasionally with co-authors, and video games. He was a part-owner of his home town Major League Baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles of the American League and vice-chairman of their community activities and public affairs committees.

Tom Clancy
Clancy at Boston College's Burns Library in November 1989
BornThomas Leo Clancy Jr.
(1947-04-12)April 12, 1947
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.
DiedOctober 1, 2013(2013-10-01) (aged 66)
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.
Alma materLoyola College (BA)
  • Wanda Thomas King
    (m. 1969; div. 1999)
  • Alexandra Marie Llewellyn (m. 1999)

Clancy's literary career began in 1984 when he sold his first thin military thriller novel The Hunt for Red October for $5,000 published by the small academic Naval Institute Press of Annapolis, Maryland.[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. Actors Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, Chris Pine, and John Krasinski have played Clancy's most famous fictional character, Jack Ryan. Another well-known character of his, John Clark, has been portrayed by actors Willem Dafoe and Liev Schreiber. Tom Clancy's works also inspired games such as the Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, and Splinter Cell series. Clancy died on October 1, 2013.[3] Since his death, his Jack Ryan series has been continued by his family estate through a series of authors.

Early life and education

Clancy was born on April 12, 1947, at Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland,[4] and grew up in the Northwood neighborhood in northeast Baltimore.[2][4][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] He was a member of Troop 624 of the Boy Scouts of America.[8] His mother worked to send him to the private Roman Catholic secondary school taught by the Jesuit religious order (Society of Jesus), Loyola High School in Towson, Maryland, the suburban county seat of Baltimore County, just north of the city, from which he graduated in 1965.[4][5][6] He then attended the associated Loyola College (now Loyola University Maryland) in Baltimore, graduating in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in English literature.[4][7] While at Loyola 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 myopia (nearsightedness), which required him to wear thick eyeglasses.[1][6] After graduating, he worked for an insurance company in Hartford, Connecticut.[9] 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][9] In 1980, he purchased the insurance agency from his wife's grandmother and wrote novels in his spare time.[7][10] While working at the insurance agency, he wrote his debut novel, The Hunt for Red October (1984).[1]


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 book, 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." She believed Clancy had an "innate storytelling ability, and his characters had this very witty dialogue".[1] Clancy, who had hoped to sell 5,000 copies, ended up selling over 45,000.[2][10] After publication, the book received praise from President Ronald Reagan, who called 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][9] 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 novels focus on the hero, most notably Jack Ryan and John Clark, both Irish Catholics like himself. He repeatedly uses the formula whereby the heroes are, "highly skilled, disciplined, honest, thoroughly professional, and only lose their cool when incompetent politicians or bureaucrats get in their way. Their unambiguous triumphs over evil provide symbolic relief from the legacy of the Vietnam War."[11]

Clancy's novels The Hunt for Red October, 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 as Clancy's most famous fictional character, Jack Ryan; 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 (1986)[12] was co-written (according to Clancy in the book's foreword) with fellow military-oriented author Larry Bond. The book was published by Putnam and sold almost a million copies within its first year.[13] Clancy became the cornerstone of a publishing list by Putnam which emphasized authors like Clancy who would produce annually. His publisher, Phyllis E. Grann, called these "repeaters."[13]


Clancy has author status on the cover of dozens of books. Seventeen of his novels made it to the top of the New York Times best seller list. He co-authored memoirs of top generals, and produced numerous guided tours of the elite aspects of the American military. Andrew Bacevich states:

Clancy did for military pop-lit what Starbucks did for the preparation of caffeinated beverages: he launched a sprawling, massively profitable industrial enterprise that simultaneously serves and cultivates an insatiable consumer base. Whether the item consumed provides much in terms of nourishment is utterly beside the point. That it tastes yummy going down more than suffices to keep customers coming back.[14]

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.[15] By 1997, Penguin Putnam Inc. (part of Pearson Education) reportedly paid 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.[16] 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.[16]

In 1993, Clancy joined a group of investors that included Peter Angelos, and bought the Baltimore Orioles from Eli Jacobs.[17][18] In 1998, he reached an agreement to purchase the Minnesota Vikings, but had to abandon the deal because of a divorce settlement cost.[19][20]

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

Clancy wrote several nonfiction books about various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces (see nonfiction listing, below). He 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.

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).

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.[21] Based on his interest in private spaceflight and his US$1 million investment in the launch vehicle company Rotary Rocket,[22] Clancy was interviewed in 2007 for the documentary film Orphans of Apollo (2008).[23]

Political views

A long-time proponent of conservative and Republican views, Clancy dedicated books to American conservative political figures, most notably Ronald Reagan. A week after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, on The O'Reilly Factor, Clancy suggested that left-wing politicians in the United States were partly responsible for the failure to prevent the attacks due to their "gutting" of the Central Intelligence Agency.

On September 11, 2001, Clancy was interviewed by Judy Woodruff on CNN.[24] During the interview, he asserted "Islam does not permit 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.[25] Clancy was interviewed on these shows because his book Debt of Honor (1994) included a scenario wherein 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.

Numerous scholars have examined the political dimensions of Clancy's book, especially in the context of the Cold War. Historian Walter Hixson has argued that Clancy's novels, especially The Hunt for Red October and Red Storm Rising, were:

popular representations of Reagan-era Cold War values. They reflect both popular perceptions of Soviet behavior and the predominant national security values of the Reagan era. They also perpetuate myths about the American past and reinforce the symbols, images, historical lessons that have dominated Cold War discourse.[26]

Personal life

Clancy's first wife, Wanda Thomas King, was a nurse.[7][27] They married in 1969, and had four children: daughters Michelle, Christine, and Kathleen; son Thomas Leo III. The couple separated briefly in 1995, and permanently separated in December 1996.[1][28] Clancy filed for divorce in November 1997,[29] which became final in January 1999.[30]

On June 26, 1999, Clancy married freelance journalist Alexandra Marie Llewellyn, whom he had met in 1997.[31] Llewellyn is the daughter of J. Bruce Llewellyn and a family friend of Colin Powell, who originally introduced the couple to each other. They remained together until Clancy's death in October 2013.[32] The two had one daughter.[1]

Clancy was a Roman Catholic.[33][34]


Clancy's 80-acre estate, which was once a summer camp, is located in Calvert County, Maryland. It has a panoramic view of the Chesapeake Bay.[35] The stone mansion, which cost $2 million, has 24 rooms and features a shooting range in the basement.[27][35] The property also features a World War II-era M4 Sherman tank, a Christmas gift from his first wife.[35][36]

Clancy also purchased a 17,000 square foot penthouse condominium in the Ritz-Carlton, in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, for $16 million.[9] Clancy and his wife combined four units to create the apartment.[37]

As of November 2018, both properties are listed for sale by his estate.[38] The property is described as approximately 537 acres by the realtor. It is unclear when the estate expanded to its present size.


Clancy died of heart failure on October 1, 2013,[3] at Johns Hopkins Hospital, near his Baltimore home. 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."[39]

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."[40]

Achievements and awards


Film, television and media adaptations


YearTitleFilmmaker/DirectorSource materialNotes
1990The Hunt for Red OctoberJohn McTiernanThe book
1992Patriot Games Phillip NoyceThe book
1994Clear and Present DangerPhillip NoyceThe book
1995Tom Clancy's Op Center Lewis TeagueThe seriesA 114-minute action/political thriller which was edited down from a 170-minute, 4-hour TV mini-series of the same name that aired in two parts on NBC in February 1995
1999NetForceRobert LiebermanThe seriesA television movie based on the Tom Clancy's Net Force series of novels created by Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik
2002The Sum of All Fears Phil Alden RobinsonThe book
2014Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Kenneth BranaghBased on characters created by Clancy
2020Without Remorse Stefano SollimaThe book
TBAGhost Recon Michael BayVideo game seriesBased on the Tom Clancy video game series of the same name
TBAThe Division David LeitchVideo gameBased on the Tom Clancy video game of the same name

Short films

  • Ghost Recon: Alpha
  • Ghost Recon Wildlands: War Within the Cartel

Television series

2018–presentTom Clancy's Jack RyanCarlton Cuse
Graham Roland
An American eight-episode action political thriller web television series, based on characters from the fictional "Ryanverse", that premiered on August 31, 2018 on Amazon Video. The second season premiered on November 1, 2019, following the same eight-episode pattern. It serves as a sequel to the first season, taking Jack on a similar adventure through Venezuela.

Video games

Ubisoft has made many video game series based on Tom Clancy's books.

1998–presentTom Clancy's Rainbow Six saga
2001–presentTom Clancy's Ghost Recon saga
2002–presentTom Clancy's Splinter Cell saga
2008Tom Clancy's EndWar
2009–2010Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X saga
2016–presentTom Clancy's The Division saga
2019Tom Clancy's Elite Squad


  1. Bosman, Julie (October 2, 2013). "Tom Clancy, Best-Selling Novelist of Military Thrillers, Died at 66". New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  2. Kaltenbach, Chris (October 2, 2013). "Clancy invented 'techno-thriller,' reflected Cold War fears". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  3. "Tom Clancy, best-selling author, dead at 66". cbsnews. October 2, 2013.
  4. Clancy, Tom (October 31, 1997). "alt.books.tom-clancy". Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  5. "Tom Clancy: Bibliography and list of works". Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  6. Arnold, Laurence. "Tom Clancy, Whose Novels Conjured Threats to U.S., Dies at 66". Bloomberg. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  7. Woo, Elaine (October 2, 2013). "Tom Clancy dies at 66; insurance agent found his calling in spy thrillers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  8. Greenberg, Martin. H. (1992). The Tom Clancy Companion.
  9. Rasmussen, Frederick N. (October 3, 2013). "Tom Clancy, 'king of the techno-thriller'". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  10. Lippman, Laura (June 13, 1998). "THE CLANCY COLD WAR". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  11. Walter L. Hixson, "' Red Storm Rising': Tom Clancy Novels and the Cult of National Security" Diplomatic History p 606.
  12. Clancy, Tom & Bond, Larry (1986). Red Storm Rising (First ed.). Putnam.
  13. Maneker, Marion (January 1, 2002). "Now for the Grann Finale". New York Magazine. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  14. Andrew J. Bacevich, "Tom Clancy, Military Man" The Baffler No. 24 (2014), pp. 157-160 online, quoting p 157.
  15. Anderson, Patrick (May 1, 1988). "King of the Techno-thriller". New York Times Magazine.
  16. Quinn, Judy (August 24, 1997). "$100M Mega-Deals for Clancy". Publishers Weekly. 243 (34). Archived from the original on January 10, 2011.
  17. Mark Hyman; Jon Morgan (April 22, 1993). "Tom Clancy offers to bid for Orioles with other locals Author would join Angelos, Knott". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
  18. Dean Jones Jr (October 2, 2013). "Best-selling author Tom Clancy's ties to Orioles date to 1993". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
  19. Vito Stellino (May 17, 1998). "Clancy's Vikings ownership in a holding pattern". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
  20. Chris Strauss (October 2, 2013). "Tom Clancy nearly owned the Minnesota Vikings". USA Today. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
  21. Mitchell, Richard (March 25, 2008). "Clancy name bought by Ubisoft, worth big bucks". Archived from the original on January 24, 2009. Retrieved February 28, 2010.
  22. David, Leonard (October 16, 2013). "How Late Author Tom Clancy Supported Private Spaceflight". Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  23. "Orphans of Apollo". Amazon. Retrieved November 23, 2019.
  24. "Tom Clancy on Sept 11 2001 & WTC 7 Collapse". CNN. September 2001. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  25. "An hour about the 9/11 attacks". September 11, 2001. Archived from the original on May 25, 2009. Retrieved February 28, 2010.
  26. Walter L. Hixson, "Red Storm Rising: Tom Clancy Novels and the Cult of National Security." Diplomatic History 17.4 (1993): 599-614. online, quoting p. 601.
  27. Christy, Marian (August 19, 1994). "Tom Clancy makes it look so simple". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  28. Schindehette, Susan (June 15, 1998). "Storm Rising". People Magazine. 49 (23): 141.
  29. Jones, Brent (August 27, 2008). "Reconsider Clancy case ruling". Baltimore Sun.
  30. "Case No. 04-C-03-000749 OC" (PDF). Circuit Court for Calvert County. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  31. "Alexandra Llewellyn, Tom Clancy". The New York Times. June 27, 1999.
  32. Kennedy, John R. (October 2, 2013). "Author Tom Clancy dead at 66 - Okanagan". Global News. Canada. Retrieved October 2, 2013.
  33. Carlson, Peter (June 27, 1993). "What ticks Tom Clancy off?". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 2, 2017. 'I've had [sex scenes] in my books before, but you had to look real fast because, you know, I'm a married Catholic and I don't do that,' said Clancy.
  34. Grossman, Lev (July 22, 2002). "10 Questions For Tom Clancy". Time. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  35. Carlson, Peter (June 27, 1993). "What ticks Tom Clancy off?". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  36. "The Cold War of Clancy vs. Clancy". Los Angeles Times. June 30, 1998.
  37. Kathy Orton (November 2, 2015). "At $12 million, Tom Clancy's Baltimore penthouse is most expensive listing in the city". Washington Post. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  38. American Luxury Staff (November 20, 2018). "Tom Clancy's 536-Acre Maryland Compound Comes to Market at Half the Original $12M Ask". American Luxury. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  39. US Naval Institute Staff (October 3, 2013). "Tom Clancy Dies at 66". US Naval Institute. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
  40. "Tom Clancy, author, dead at 66". Chicago Tribune. October 2, 2013.
  41. "Top Hardcover Bestsellers, 1972-1996". Washington Post. June 1, 1997. Retrieved February 28, 2010.
  42. "Rensselaer Magazine: Summer 2004: At Rensselaer". Retrieved February 28, 2010.
  43. Bucktin, Christopher. "Tom Clancy dead: Best-selling author of Jack Ryan novels dies in hospital aged 66". The Mirror.
  44. "TC Post: Clancy Speaks Again Briefly". June 25, 2000. Retrieved February 28, 2010.
  45. Wolf, Ian. "Deep Trouble — Production Details, Plus Regular Cast and Crew". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved October 4, 2009.
  46. Jones, Jr., Dean. "Orioles announce Opening Day plans, will wear patch for Tom Clancy in 2014". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved March 31, 2014.

Further reading

  • Baiocco, Richard ed. Readings on Tom Clancy (2003), a guide to Clancy
  • Greenberg, Martin. H. The Tom Clancy Companion (1992) excerpt; also online free to borrow
  • Keene, Ann T. "Clancy, Tom (12 April 1947–01 October 2013)" American National Biography (2015) online

Scholarly studies

  • Blouin, Michael J. Mass-Market Fiction and the Crisis of American Liberalism, 1972–2017 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), Chapter 5: "Tom Clancy and the Liberal Family Tree" pp. 147–175. argues that liberal critics misinterpret his "conservatism" excerpt
  • Gallagher, Mark. Action figures: Men, action films, and contemporary adventure narratives (Springer, 2006).
  • Garson, Helen S. Tom Clancy: A critical companion (1996) online free to borrow
  • Griffin, Benjamin. "The good guys win: Ronald Reagan, Tom Clancy, and the transformation of national security" (MA thesis, U of Texas, 2015). online
  • Hicks, Heather J. "“Sleeping Beauty”: Corporate Culture, Race, and Reality in Michael Crichton's Rising Sun and Tom Clancy's Debt of Honor." in Hicks, The Culture of Soft Work (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) pp. 139-163. excerpt
  • Hixson, Walter L. "Red Storm Rising: Tom Clancy Novels and the Cult of National Security." Diplomatic History 17.4 (1993): 599-614. online
  • Outlaw, Leroy B. "Red Storm Rising-A Primer for a Future Conventional War in Central Europe"" (Army War College, 1988). online
  • Payne, Matthew Thomas. Playing war: Military video games after 9/11 (NYU Press, 2016).
  • Terdoslavich, William. The Jack Ryan Agenda: Policy and Politics in the Novels of Tom Clancy: An Unauthorized Analysis (Macmillan, 2005). excerpt
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