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If you like Tom Clancy's story, you might also like:
Stephen Ambrose,
George H.W. Bush,
Shelby Foote,
John Grisham,
David Halberstam,
David McCullough,
James Michener,
Colin Powell,
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James Stockdale,
Michael Thornton,
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and Chuck Yeager

Tom Clancy also appears in the videos:
So, You Want to Be a Writer Vol.1
So, You Want to Be a Writer Vol.2

Prepared lesson plans featuring Tom Clancy:
So You Want to Be a Writer

Tom Clancy's recommended reading: The Two-Ocean War

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Tom Clancy
Tom Clancy
Profile of Tom Clancy Biography of Tom Clancy Interview with Tom Clancy Tom Clancy Photo Gallery

Tom Clancy Biography

Best-Selling Author

Tom Clancy Date of birth: April 12, 1947
Date of death: October 1, 2013

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  Tom Clancy

Thomas Leo Clancy, Jr. was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and grew up in the city's Northwood neighborhood. His father was a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service; his mother worked in the credit department of a local store. From an early age, Tom Clancy was an active reader, with a deep interest in military history, particularly the work of naval historian Samuel Eliot Morison. The staunchly Catholic family made a great effort to ensure that young Tom was educated at Jesuit institutions, first at Loyola Blakefield in Towson, Maryland, then at Loyola College in Baltimore. In high school and college, he was active in chess clubs and debating societies. He joined the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps, but he was rejected for military service due to his extreme nearsightedness. He graduated from Loyola in 1969 with a degree in English literature.

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The year Tom Clancy graduated, he married Wanda Thomas King, a nursing student. Although he was already dreaming of becoming an author, he made the more practical choice after graduation of joining an insurance firm in Hartford, Connecticut, and he and Wanda started a family. They would eventually have four children. In 1973, Clancy took a job with the O.F. Bowen Agency, a small insurance firm, founded by Wanda's grandfather, in Owings, Maryland. Tom Clancy would remain a resident of his native state for the rest of his life.

In 1980, Clancy purchased the agency from Wanda's mother and became his own employer. He still read military history, and he particularly enjoyed learning about the increasingly sophisticated weapons systems employed by the superpowers. When he read an article about the failed attempt of a Soviet ship's crew to mutiny and defect to the West, the story captured his imagination. Clancy saw this incident as the premise for a novel, a thriller that would draw hyper-realistic detail from his extensive reading.

Clancy had never stopped dreaming of becoming a writer, and now that he could set his own hours, he began to write in the evenings and during spare moments at the office. Now 35, he had never seen a word of his work in print, other than a letter to the editor and a single three-page article on the MX missile, but he resolved to complete his novel and submit it for publication. In Clancy's tale, the Soviet vessel became a nuclear submarine; as a protagonist, he introduced the CIA agent Jack Ryan, who would appear in many of Clancy's later books.

Tom Clancy Biography Photo
It took two years for Clancy to complete his book, which he titled The Hunt for Red October. In 1985, he sent the completed manuscript to the Naval Institute Press, a small non-profit publisher based at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The press had never published a work of fiction before, but it was looking for a novel with a nautical theme, and it purchased the initial publishing rights for $5,000. The first printing sold 45,000 copies, one of which found its way to President Ronald Reagan. The President enjoyed the book and recommended it to his friends. Reagan's endorsement attracted a wider audience, and soon the book had sold 300,000 copies in hardcover and two million in paperback.

The formerly unknown insurance agent was now a bestselling author, and the technical accuracy of the book won praise from military experts. Clancy met high-ranking officers in the U.S. military, who facilitated his research for subsequent novels. By 1988, his first book had earned him $1.3 million in royalties, and he signed a $3 million contract for his next three books. Clancy retired from the insurance business and bought an 80-acre estate overlooking Chesapeake Bay in Calvert County, near the unincorporated town center of Huntingtown and the town of Prince Frederick. He also kept a large apartment in the Inner Harbor district of Baltimore. Despite his fascination with high technology and military technology, he suffered from a lifelong fear of flying and avoided air travel.

Clancy's second novel, Red Storm Rising, published in 1986, depicted a hypothetical war between NATO and the Soviet Union. Patriot Games (1987) brought back the character of Jack Ryan, this time foiling a plot by Irish terrorists. In Cardinal of the Kremlin (1988), a sequel to Red October, Jack Ryan returns and Clancy introduces the character of John Clark, who would also appear in many of Clancy's tales. A Clear and Present Danger and The Sum of All Fears followed in 1989 and 1991. A Clear and Present Danger sold over 1.6 million copies in hardcover, making it the bestselling novel of the decade.

Tom Clancy Biography Photo
The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, A Clear and Present Danger and The Sum of All Fears became highly successful feature films, with the character of Jack Ryan played variously by actors Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck. Three of Clancy's first six novels had dealt in various ways with the Cold War rivalry of the Soviet Union and the United States. Others dealt with Middle Eastern terrorists and South American drug dealers. In October 1991, when Tom Clancy recorded his interview with the Academy of Achievement, the Soviet Union was in a state of collapse; it dissolved officially on December 25 of that year. Tom Clancy continued to produce thrillers at a steady pace throughout the 1990s, including Without Remorse, Debt of Honor and Executive Orders. His later novels were occasionally set in the Cold War past, but more often in a fanciful version of the near future, in which terrorist organizations attack the United States, Jack Ryan becomes President, and coups in Russia, China and Japan lead to renewed international conflict.

In 1996, Clancy founded a video game company, Red Storm Entertainment, which produced a series of successful games based on Clancy's books and characters. The following year, the publisher Penguin Putnam agreed to pay Clancy $50 million for world rights to two new books, and $35 million to Red Storm Entertainment for a four-year book and multimedia deal.

Tom Clancy Biography Photo
Tom and Wanda Clancy separated in 1996. Tom Clancy regularly attended the Academy of Achievement in the 1990s, as did General Colin Powell. At the Academy's 1997 gathering in Baltimore, General Powell introduced Clancy to journalist Alexandra Marie Llewellyn, the daughter of Powell's first cousin, businessman and philanthropist J. Bruce Llewellyn (1927-2010). Tom Clancy and Alexandra Llewellyn married in 1999, after his divorce became final.

Clancy continued to pen bestsellers well into the 21st Century, including The Teeth of the Tiger (2003), Dead or Alive (2010), Locked On (2011) and Threat Vector (2012). He also published a series of non-fiction works: Guided Tours, focusing on different units of the U.S. military; and the Study in Command series, on recent U.S. military campaigns. In addition to his own novels, he licensed the use of his name for multiple book series written by others in his style.

He often appeared on television to discuss national security affairs, and remained steadfastly loyal to his native city. He was a part owner of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, active in the team's Community Activities and Public Affairs Committees. He died in Baltimore in 2012 at the age of 66. He was survived by the four children from his first marriage and one from his second, by his widow Alexandra, and by millions of fans around the world. His last novel, Command Authority, was scheduled for publication at the time of his death.

This page last revised on Nov 15, 2013 17:22 EDT
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