By James O. Born
I don't want to be the guy who only blogs when someone dies. It just worked out that way this week. Writer Tom Clancy passed away Tuesday in Baltimore. Unlike my blog about Elmore Leonard passing away, this is not about my personal relationship, I never personally met Mr. Clancy. We shared an editor, Neil Nyren, at Putnam and we had many friends in common. He is one of the few writers my kids liked. I even managed to snag a couple of signed books for my son when he was in highschool. Any time a teen aged boy shows an interest in reading you support it strongly.
We often hear debates about whether people can learn to write or are natural writers. The element many people leave out his storytelling. Clancy was a storyteller on a grand scale. His lesser-known novels such as Red Storm Rising and The Bear And The Dragon detail global military conflict better than any other book ever written. That is my opinion, but I will confidently state it as fact. Because although the books are filled with military detail, which I don't know to be absolutely correct, the stories and characters themselves drew me in to the novels.
I read Red Storm Rising while on a long surveillance with the US Drug Enforcement Administration. There is a tremendous amount of dead time during an activity like that. The surveillance was more than twenty-five years ago and I can remember every nuance of that novel. There is no higher praise I could give to a work of literature.
I will choose to remember Mr. Clancy by his act of kindness for a young man stricken with cancer and his ability to create an entire universe of conflict which entertained me for hours on end.
If he had done nothing else in the world (and he achieved a lot), those are two notable accomplishments.
Rest in peace, Tom Clancy.