I was saddened to learn that bestselling author Tom Clancy had died. I was saddened because I thought of what this loss would mean to his family and friends. I was saddened too, for as a young man I enjoyed his books and subsequent the movies starring Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan. I was also saddened because as a bookseller at Christmas time when asked what book would be good for a bloke, a Tom Clancy was a sure thing. And I was saddened by this death because myths are not meant to die and this fact throws all my conspiracy theories about Tom Clancy into doubt.
I had actually forgotten my conspiracy theories, last held around the time of 9/11, until recently when I was reading a book called, Five Billion Sold The Amazing Facts Behind the Fiction and stumbled across the non-biography of Tom Clancy. The book is essentially short biographies of the biggest selling authors in the modern era. It includes Agatha Christie, Harold Robbins, Jackie Collins, J.K. Rowling etc. But when the author David Glynn gets to the eighties and early nineties instead of finding a short biography of Tom Clancy I found a short essay called Tom Clancy: The Man Who Wasn’t There.
And this didn’t really surprise me.
I remember my father, who was a great admirer of the early Jack Ryan novels back in the eighties, talking to friends about them, marvelling at the technical details in the books. He used to ask aloud, how could Clancy have access to all of that presumably classified information?
The suggestion then was that he must be fed the information by government sources. There was no other possible explanation.
I read in David Glynn’s book that The Hunt For The Red October was first published by the US Navy. Soon afterwards, then President Ronald Reagan praised the book in a Time Magazine article. And boom, a bestselling author is born.
The suggestion is then that Tom Clancy was a CIA plant. That his books went a long way to convincing the USSR that the capacity of the US to wage war, to gather intelligence, to develop advanced technologies was so great as to be invincible. Creating the myth of US might was far cheaper than actually being mighty. Much like the way the James Bond novels have given the general public an unrealistic impression of UK intelligence services.
Then in the aftermath of 9/11 Clancy was back in the news because the attacks bore a striking resemblance to an attack described in his novel Debt of Honor where a Boeing 747 crashes into the U.S. Capitol while the President is addressing a joint session of Congress. The President and most of Congress are killed.
But this isn’t what was most striking to me. The aftermath of September 11th what most surprised the world was the inadequacy of the US intelligence agencies. Stories emerged about the rush to find anyone in the CIA who spoke Arabic. They didn’t seem to have operatives embedded in the bad guys camps. Their tools were no better than two cups and a piece of string.
The world had been duped and Tom Clancy, Harrison Ford and some bloody great fiction were to blame.
by Tom Clancy
Tom Clancy’s final Jack Ryan Novel
Command Authority sees the return of Tom Clancy’s greatest hero, Jack Ryan.
There’s a new strong man in Russia, but his rise to power is based on a dark secret hidden decades in the past. The clue to the mystery lies with a most unexpected source: President Jack Ryan.
Tom Clancy’s Command Authority is a brand new full-throttle all-action adventure for 2013.
It follows Threat Vector and Locked On as the newest Jack Ryan novel.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.