Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Debt to Clancy

As I watched the two towers burn on 9/11, the first thing I thought was "Tom Clancy wrote this would happen."

I've had a love hate relationship with Tom Clancy for quite sometime; on one hand he describes WAY too much and isn't the greatest writer...on the other hand he may just be one of the best storytellers of the Cold War age.

I have read his Jack Ryan books off and on ever since I picked up "The Hunt for Red October" one summer while looking for an easy read to spend a few days with. Those of you not familiar with Clancy, Jack Ryan is the main character in most of the books, and he's done it all and seen it all. In "Executive Orders" he became President--one of the best ones the country ever saw, of course (it's fiction, after all)

When Amazon released Tom Clancy on Kindle last month, I was in the mood for an easy read, and download "Debt of Honor" (SPOILER ALERT: the reason this book is known as the 9/11 one is the ending has a plane crashing into the Capital Building in DC, and wiping out a huge chuck of the government (including all nine Supreme Court Justices and the President), which is how Ryan becomes President, and the stage is set for "Executive Orders")

The book is about a war between the U.S. and Japan; the book would be interesting if it was just a plain old fashion war, but what makes it absolutely fascinating is one of the ways Japan attacks the country--economically; Japan engineers the collapse of the U.S. stock market--done so in a way that made me think instantly of our current economic crisis; in the midst of this, the Vice President is involved in a sex scandal, and Ryan is later asked to become Vice President just until the elections over.

Most of his books are about 800 pages; a good editor would have no problem cutting this down to 350 or 400. Writing narratives isn't what makes Clancy so great; it's his stories. He writes about scenarios that I'm not sure the government has fully worked out, and he does so in a way that makes you just a little afraid, because you know that everything he's writing could quite easily come true.

The dialogue is a bit corny at times, but if you ever wanted to know the workings of government he's worth the read.

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