Thomas Leo Clancy Jr. (born April 12, 1947), who writes under the name Tom Clancy, is an American author of bestselling political thrillers, best known for his technically-detailed espionage and military science story-lines during the Cold War. His name is also a brand for similar books written by other authors.
While some reviewers regard Clancy's prose as pedestrian, many of his books have been spectacular bestsellers. Clancy fans cite intricate plots, attention to detail and technical accuracy in military and intelligence topics.
Clancy is one of only two authors to have sold two million copies on a first printing in the 1990s. His 1989 novel Clear and Present Danger, sold 1,625,544 hardcover copies, making it the #1 bestselling novel of the 1980s.
Tom Clancy was born April 12, 1947 at Franklin Square Hospital, in Baltimore, MD. He attended Loyola High School in Towson, MD, graduating with the class of 1965.
Clancy studied English Literature at Loyola College in Baltimore, graduating with the class of 1969. In a message to the usenet newsgroup alt.books.tom-clancy, he remarked that he studied English because "I wasn't smart enough to do physics." Before making his literary debut, he spent some time running an independent insurance business.
Clancy married his first wife, Wanda, in 1970. After having several children together, they divorced in 1998. Wanda was represented by Baltimore lawyer Sheila Sachs. Divorce papers filed by Wanda in 1996 gave the reason that Tom Clancy had "committed adultery with one Katherine Huang", supposedly a New York assistant district attorney he met on the Internet. Much of the media attention focus on the Clancys' divorce resulted from Tom's then-pending bid to buy the Minnesota Vikings.
In 1999, Clancy, at age 52, married 32-year old fellow writer Alexandra Marie Llewellyn, on June 26. Also, according to the Tom Clancy FAQ website:
It was previously reported in the Washington Post that he was to marry a niece of Colin Powell just after the divorce to his first wife was finalized. Clancy is known to be very protective of his personal life. He has 4 children.
In 1998, Tom Clancy attempted to purchase the Minnesota Vikings, and had a purchase agreement in place, but the deal fell through after his divorce settlement significantly decreased his net worth. He is currently the Vice Chairman of Community Projects & Public Affairs for the Baltimore Orioles.
Tom Clancy was an early, and to many, surprising defender of Islam after the 9/11 terror attacks. He was interviewed on CNN later that day.
The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears have been turned into commercially successful films with actors such as Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck as Clancy's most famous character Jack Ryan. As with many movie adaptations of popular novels, there is controversy amongst fans concerning the (non-)canonicity of the movies, most of which take fairly extensive liberties with the original plot. Recently, there have been talks about a movie based on the bestselling novel, Rainbow Six.
In recent years, his novels have become more political, showcasing his conservative philosophy. In the novels Executive Orders and The Bear and the Dragon, Jack Ryan is President of the United States. Some of Ryan's policies include a more aggressive War on Drugs (with an emphasis on arresting high-profile drug users to curtail demand) and replacing the progressive income tax with a flat tax. Some fans have objected to this focus on domestic politics rather than military subjects. Of course, Clancy's political opinions were very much in evidence in previous novels; those opinions typically addressed foreign/defense policies.
Nevertheless, Clancy's books have continued to sell briskly, perhaps due to momentum from his previous popularity. Alternatively his books' popularity could be due to his ideas resonating positively with his fans. He returned, somewhat, to his earlier approach with The Bear and the Dragon, which starts off as a political novel, and metamorphoses into a war procedural two-thirds of the way through.
With the release of The Teeth of the Tiger, Clancy introduced Jack Ryan's son and two nephews as main characters. Presumably, he has retired Jack Ryan as a central character. Many fans have expressed disappointment in Clancy's recent fiction works and sales of his books have reflected the growing trend of readers turning away from Clancy.
Clancy has written several nonfiction books about various branches of the US armed forces (see non-fiction listing, below) Clancy has branded several lines of books with his name that are written by other, acknowledged authors following premises or storylines generally in keeping with Clancy's works:
* Tom Clancy's Net Force
* Tom Clancy's Net Force Explorers
* Tom Clancy's Op-Center
* Tom Clancy's Power Plays.
These are sometimes referred to by fans as "apostrophe" books; Clancy did not initially acknowledge that these series were being authored by others, only thanking the actual authors in the headnotes for their "invaluable contribution to the manuscript".
In 1997 Tom Clancy signed a book deal with Pearson Custom Publishing and Penguin Putnam Inc. (both part of Pearson Education), that paid him US$50 million for the world-English rights to two new books. He then signed a second agreement for another US$25 million for a four-year book/multimedia deal. Clancy followed this up with an agreement with Berkley Books for 24 paperbacks to tie in with the ABC television miniseries "Tom Clancy's Net Force" in an agreement worth US$22 million bringing the total value of the package to US$97 million.
All but two of Clancy's novels feature Jack Ryan and/or John Clark.