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October 5, 2013

Series Saturday: Jack Ryan by Tom Clancy

The Cardinal in the Kremlin
I'm sure you have heard the sad news on Tuesday that Tom Clancy passed away. I have mentioned in passing a few times that I really like the Jack Ryan series. It was actually the series that got me reading again after college. It also instilled in me a love for stories of espionage.

The Jack Ryan series is the best kind of series. You can pick up and read anyone of them and not worry too much about the order you are reading them. I read once that Clancy often was writing more than one at a time and which ever story he finished would be the one published.

I was like the typical college graduate - I hadn't really read much for pleasure during the 4 years of matriculation. But I have always been a big reader so without the mandatory reading lists I felt a bit of a loss as to where to start. I was too old for the authors of my high school years (though I was reading adult books then as well as the typical YA). I remember reading a few of the classics that had been assigned in high school, but I hadn't gotten to (while an avid reader, I'm also a bit of a slow reader). There was only so much classic literature that I could read at a time and I felt strange telling people in interviews that the last book I read was Hamlet.

I had watched several of the movies that the books had been made into and Mom had a few of the books that hadn't been turned into movies. So I started there and then hit up the library for the others. Over the years I have picked up copies at book sales and thrift stores. I'm not sure if I have a favorite in the series, but I do have a Top 3. I think The Cardinal in the Kremlin was the book I started with and one of my favorites. Though Jack Ryan was the quintessential hero and possibly the first book character I had a crush on, the Cardinal (aka Mikhail Filitov) was a favorite character.

It is Clancy's ability to fully develop secondary characters that also drew me to my other two favorites. From all the reports I've seen recently, Clancy's most famous book may be The Hunt for Red October. In my early days of reading Tom Clancy, I skipped the books that I had seen the movies. But I came across a copy of The Hunt for Red October at a book sale where you got all the books you could put in a bag for $3. I'm so glad I read it. So much more happened in the book than in the movie.

To round out the Top 3 Favorite is not technically a Jack Ryan series book, but John Clark - Rainbow Six. I really like Mr. Clark too.

I haven't gotten around to the Jack Ryan, Jr series, but I think I'm going to remedy that soon since I am finishing up the series I've been reading from the library. It will be interesting to see if I think the thrillers are still as great. I'm really partial to Cold War era espionage, but I think Clancy's writing will still pull me in.

I haven't tried the other series Clancy has penned. Mostly because I thought I needed to branch out to other authors and some of it was because they were more techno-thrillers.

Are you a fan of Jack Ryan? Or do enjoy one of Clancy's other series?

And just a side note - I much preferred Harrison Ford at Jack Ryan to Ben Affleck (Sum of All Fears was probably my least favorite Jack Ryan movie).

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  1. I am a fan of Jack Ryan, although I have not read any of the books in almost a decade. I wish there were more John Clark books. My joking comment on Clancy's passing was he must have seen a preview of the Jack Ryan: Shadow One movie.