Salesman at debut novel,master of thrillers by the end

Clancy was frequently accused of using classified information in his novels,a claim that amused him.

Written by New York Times | Published: October 3, 2013 1:48:34 am

Julie Bosman

Tom Clancy,whose complex,adrenaline-fueled military novels made him one of the world’s best-selling and best-known authors,died on Tuesday in a hospital in Baltimore. He was 66.

Ivan Held,the president of GP Putnam’s Sons,his publisher,did not provide a cause of death.

Clancy’s books were successfully transformed into blockbuster Hollywood films,including Patriot Games,The Hunt for Red October and Clear and Present Danger. His next book,Command Authority,is planned for publication on December 3.

Seventeen of his novels were No. 1 New York Times best sellers,including his most recent,“Threat Vector,” which was released in December 2012.

Clancy was an insurance salesman when he sold his first novel,The Hunt for Red October,to the Naval Institute Press for only $5,000. After the book’s publication in 1985,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. Among his many admirers was President Ronald Reagan,who said once that The Hunt for Red October was “my kind of yarn.” After The Hunt for Red October was published,Clancy’s fame was fairly instant. He followed it with Red Storm Rising in 1986,Patriot Games in 1987,The Cardinal of the Kremlin in 1988 and Clear and Present Danger in 1989.

David Shanks,a Penguin executive who worked with Clancy for decades,called him “a consummate author,creating the modern-day thriller,and one of the most visionary storytellers of our time.”

Born to a middle-class family in Baltimore on April 12,1947,Clancy became obsessed by naval history from a young age,reading journals and books whose intended audience was career military officers and engineering experts. He absorbed details of submarine warfare,espionage,missile systems and covert plots between superpowers. While Clancy harbored ambitions to join the military,even joining the Army ROTC,he was told that he was too nearsighted to qualify.

Clancy was frequently accused of using classified information in his novels,a claim that amused him. While he spent time on military bases,visited the Pentagon and dined with high-level military officials,he insisted that he didn’t want to know any classified information. Clancy once said in an interview. “I’ve made up stuff that’s turned out to be real,that’s the spooky part.”

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