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His Life, His Style, His Books
English 11, Period 5
March 14, 1996
"Vampire, Vampire!" The CIC talker said aboard Ticonderoga. "We have numerous incoming missiles. Weapons free."1
Tom Clancy, the best modern fiction writer, and probably, one of the all time best. Above was an excerpt from his second number one bestseller, Red Storm Rising. Tom Clancy is a civilian genius that knows more about top-secret weapons systems than the men who designed them. This makes for an explosive, could be real, story. It is because of his gripping story lines, and powerful descriptions of battle scenes that have drawn me, along with millions of other Americans to his master works of art. Ironically Mr. Clancy’s dream of becoming a writer was not fulfilled until he wrote The Hunt For Red October in 1984. Until then, he was an insurance salesman whose previous stories had been turned down. That is another thing that I like about Mr. Clancy, he doesn’t give up. Clancy once said, "In America, there ain’t no excuses. You can go out and do anything you damn well please if you try hard enough."2 Finally, this author, was the only one that didn’t put me to sleep with a warm cup of milk.
Thomas L. Clancy Jr., son of a mailman and department store credit employee, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1947. He attended a local catholic parochial elementary and secondary school. Most of his friends were interested in sports, and following their favorite teams throughout the season, but Tom had more important things on his mind like guns, tanks, and planes. He went to Loyola College, a Jesuit college of liberal arts in Baltimore where he majored in English. While attending college he joined the ROTC in order to serve in Vietnam, but poor eyesight kept him from fulfilling his desire. The first short story he wrote was rejected by Analog Sci-Fi magazine, crushing another dream of having his name on a book. In 1973 he became an insurance agent, as he wasn’t making any head way as a writer. Eventually he joined his wife’s father’s insurance agency, and later bought it in 1980 for $125,000. It was an established business with around 1,000 clients. Tom was so effective, and the business so profitable, that he could accomplish all the work in the morning and have the rest of the day to devour all sorts of technical journals and papers.3 After his writing career took off in 1984, he eventually moved into a 400 acre estate on the Chesapeake Bay. He has two tennis courts, two basketball courts, and a full size football field complete with goal posts. There is a sign that warns of a tank crossing, then there is the tank, sitting on the lawn. That along with Freddie the family dog, and an automatic security gate provides a secure home. But if someone were to get past that they would be faced with Tom, and his arsenal, as he has his own gun range downstairs.4 Tom Clancy has shown that though the use of hard work, even writhing books can be profitable.
Up until, The Hunt for Red October, Clancy’s only success was the publication of an article that he did on the MX missile system, which was published by the Naval Institute Press.5 In the seventies Clancy started and shelved 3 plots which would later become Patriot Games, Without Remorse, and The Sum of all Fears.6 Then he read about the Russian frigate, Storehevoy. The crew aboard the ship, after murdering the political officer attempted to defect to Sweden. Change the frigate to a nuclear submarine, and Sweden to America, and there is now a plot for The Hunt for Red October. It took him 6 months to write the book, and again, he submitted his work to the Naval Institute Press for $5,000. A year later, Ronald Regan reads it, calls it "the perfect yarn," and Clancy’s career takes off like the F-14 tomcats in his books. The book was an immense success soaring to number one in hard cover and paperback. This was the first of many bestsellers Mr. Clancy wrote. Three of his books have been made into movies, netting him more than ten million dollars.7 Surprisingly enough, Tom Clancy doesn’t
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