BALTIMORE — Tom Clancy, the author whose novels “The Hunt for Red October” and “Patriot Games” subsequently inspired blockbuster movies and action-packed video games, died Tuesday after a brief illness at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 66. His lawyer, Thomas Webb, confirmed his death.
“When he published ‘The Hunt for Red October’ he redefined and expanded the genre and as a consequence of that, a lot of people were able to publish such books who had previously been unable to do so,” said Stephen C. Hunter, an author and former Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic for The Washington Post. “He valued technical precision and on-target writing that became the form of the modern thriller.”
Clancy was the author of numerous best-selling novels, most of which featured the character Jack Ryan.
“I’ve been lucky,” Clancy said in a 1992 interview with The Baltimore Sun.
While working for an insurance company, Clancy began working on a novel in his spare time, basing it loosely on a real-life, 1975 mutiny aboard a Soviet frigate. The result, published in 1984, was “The Hunt Red October,” a tale of superpower conflict centered on a renegade Soviet nuclear submarine. The rest, as they say, is history. The book took off like a heat-seeking, surface-to-air missile, selling 300,000 hardbacks and 2 million paperbacks in the first two years. The hardcover version spent 31 weeks on Publishers Weekly’s bestseller list; the paperback, 37 weeks.