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Jack Ryan #3

The Hunt for Red October

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Here is the runaway bestseller that launched Tom Clancy's phenomenal career. A military thriller so gripping in its action and so convincing in its accuracy that the author was rumored to have been debriefed by the White House. Its theme: the greatest espionage coup in history. Its story: the chase for a top secret Russian missile sub. Lauded by the Washington Post as "breathlessly exciting." The Hunt for Red October remains a masterpiece of military fiction by one of the world's most popular authors, a man whose shockingly realistic scenarios continue to hold us in thrall.

Somewhere under the Atlantic, a Soviet sub commander has just made a fateful decision. The Red October is heading west. The Americans want her. The Russians want her back. And the most incredible chase in history is on...

432 pages, Paperback

First published October 28, 1984

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About the author

Tom Clancy

742 books7,563 followers
Tom Clancy was an English major at Baltimore’s Loyola College. As a Maryland insurance broker with a passion for naval history, his dream of writing a novel came true with his first effort, The Hunt for Red October (1984).

He wrote more than a dozen novels, which have a blend of realism and authenticity, intricate plotting, and razor-sharp suspense. Ten of the novels, including The Teeth of the Tiger (Berkley, 2004), feature the character Jack Ryan, former stock broker and CIA employee.

Clancy’s non-fiction works include a series of guided tours of America’s warfighting assets, Submarine, Armored Cav, Fighter Wing, Marine, and Airborne.

He lived in Maryland.

The following are the books and approximate time frame in the Jack Ryan Universe

Without Remorse 1969-73
Patriot Games 1981-82
Red Rabbit 1982
The Hunt for Red October 1984
The Cardinal of the Kremlin 1986
Clear and Present Danger 1988
The Sum of All Fears 1990-91
Debt of Honor 1995-96
Executive Orders 1996
Rainbow Six 1999-2000
The Bear and the Dragon 2002
The Teeth of the Tiger 2006
Dead or Alive 2007
Locked On 2007
Threat Vector 2009
Command Authority 2013
Support and Defend 2014
Full Force and Effect 2014

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5 stars
158,687 (43%)
4 stars
122,553 (33%)
3 stars
58,980 (16%)
2 stars
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10,484 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,825 reviews
Profile Image for Peter Meredith.
Author 55 books660 followers
June 7, 2012
After reading Fifty Shades of Girl Smut, I think I need a manly book. The Hunt for Red October seems virile enough. Strong sweaty men...at sea...with not a woman in sight. Wait a sec! What am I getting in to? They better not start singing, "In the Navy" or "Y.M.C.A." And if there's even a single fashion tip, I'm tossing this book!
Wow, what a wonderful book. This is number two on my Clancy book list, right behind Red Storm Rising.
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
457 reviews3,241 followers
April 12, 2019
At the tail end of the Cold War, Captain Marko Ramius of the Soviet Navy decides to defect , incredibly planning to bring the most advanced submarine in the world with him.The Red October has a new drive system that is virtually noiseless.The nuclear vessel would be almost undetectable, a great advantage against the U.S. and its Allies, but the charismatic Ramius is a bitter man.The widower, and half Lithuanian blames the Soviet Union for the botched operation that killed his beloved wife.He has recruited unmarried and loyal officers to follow his orders.Telling the rest of the crew that they're going on a friendship visit to Cuba! Leaving from a frozen Arctic port in early December, he needs an icebreaker to get to the open gray sea.The commanding captain looking back at the coast with a touch of melancholy, for the last time.The chilly wind makes everyone outside uncomfortable from northern Russia,The Red October, heads west to the American dominated Atlantic Ocean. Underwater the giant boat travels slowly with 115 crewmen and 15 officers, they are soon hunted by the Soviets. Ships from above and below the seas and planes from the skies, all want to capture or destroy the renegade sub. The KGB man aboard has to be neutralized, still are there others? Back at the C.I.A. headquarters in the suburbs of Washington, Jack Ryan receives information , clandestine pictures of the new Soviet submarine, the puzzling photos baffle the uneasy experts. A dangerous development in the balance of power, between the two superpowers...And the northern Soviet Fleet is on the high seas, on course to reach the eastern coast of the United States, very soon. A military exercise or War? The President has a mission for the spy agency's analyst, become a secret agent , Ryan is not happy...would you...Exciting cat and mouse scenes among Soviet, American and British airplanes, ships and submarines.The final underwater battle is a particularly great page- turner, no exaggeration, if you get seasick reading Moby Dick, or a little claustrophobic not recommended for you.....Otherwise superb adventures under the sea...Sounds a bit like Jules Verne doesn't it...And what's wrong with that !
Profile Image for Loretta.
305 reviews157 followers
August 24, 2018
Wow! I didn't expect to like this book, at all. So out of my comfort zone, I can't tell you! But since I'm trying to read books off The Great American Read list I decided to give this book a try. So happy I did! So thrilling and suspenseful, it really kept me on the edge of my seat! I've got to hand it to The Great American Read! They have books on their list for people to read that they normally wouldn't pick up. So thanks for that because I would have missed out on a really good thrilling and suspenseful book! 😊
Profile Image for Lance.
195 reviews
May 23, 2008
I read this when I was on the USS Eisenhower. It was so popular with the Squids that I think it replaced the BMR. The thing that really impressed everyone on the ship was how accurate Clancy was with both his research and his story-telling. There was never a "that's not how it happens" moment, so common in media of this type. Engaging story, meticulous research combine for a fantastic read. I recommend this one to everyone.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,718 reviews12.8k followers
July 9, 2021
When asked if I would buddy read this Tom Clancy classic, I jumped at the chance. While the book’s title was familiar to me, I have to admit that I have never taken the time to read any of Clancy’s work. This was a sensational Cold War thriller, with all the key elements to keep patient readers on the edge of their seats. When a well-armed Russian nuclear submarine is on its way to the East Coast of the United States, few know that its captain has plans to defect. After the Russians learn this, they hope to stop things quickly and recover their prized maritime weapon. The Americans are privy to this through a leak in the Soviet government, but do not wish to tip their hand. Now, it’s a matter of getting the captain and his crew safely into the hands of the Americans, while capturing the submarine, all before the Russians learn of the plan. It’s sure to be a race, as both sides stare one another down and hope not to push the world to the brink of war on the high seas. A great introduction to Clancy’s world for anyone with time and patience to dedicate to this novel.

In the bleak North Atlantic, the Red October, a Soviet submarine with exceptional firepower, inches closer to the East Coast of the United States. It’s mission is not entirely clear, but the payload aboard could cause havoc in the blink of an eye. The Cold War may be a period of detente, but all that could change quickly.

Captain Mario Ramius is guiding Red October on its mission, stealthily crossing the Atlantic with hopes of making landfall before too long. However, Ramius has a secret, one that he has not shared with many. He wishes to defect and is happy to take his crew with him. While his family has strong ties to Soviet Russia, he cannot stomach the direction in which his government is taking the nation and has high hopes of living freely in America.

While the Russians have been made aware of this, they must act carefully. They need to get Ramius and Red October back before anyone is aware of what is going on. All the while, the Americans have been tipped off to what’s going on and have plans to help Ramius and get their hands on Red October, as well as all it holds. This will allow them a better idea of Soviet technology and submarine advancements.

Trying to play it cool, both sides send ships into the open waters, in hopes of keeping things somewhat light and discreet. This includes a CIA operative, Dr. Jack Ryan, whose background in naval history will help the Americans on their mission. Ryan has not served and is not keen to be pulled into this battle, but knows that he must serve his country as best he can. Armed with an academic’s mind, Ryan will have to attempt to inform the higher-ups as the Soviet ships inch closer.

While both sides are calm on the surface, it’s a panic to locate Red October and bring her in. Ramius is becoming more worried as the days pass, wondering if his plan will work, or whether he will be captured and sent to the gulags. The Americans are keen to get their hands on the technology and will do whatever it takes to get their hands on it, even if that means sacrificing some of their own.

When things come to a head, it’s a political stare down like no other, pitting American freedom against Soviet order. Neither side is keen to open the proverbial can of worms, but possession of the Red October is essential and must be achieved. The hunt for this submarine could push the world to the brink, though no one is blinking quite yet. A chilling Cold War tale that had me turning pages and wondering what was to come. Clancy has me intrigued and I will surely be back to discover more!

While I am aware of Tom Clancy and how Hollywood got their hands on his books to turn them into feature films, there was never a push for me to read the vast collection. I love espionage and Cold War stories, but always shied away, as I have little knowledge of anything marine related. I was told the book was which technical in places and worried that I would be lost as I tried to stay afloat, if you pardon the pun. That, and I always had a massive pile of books around me. But, as luck would have it, when asked to buddy read this with a dear friend, I could not resist.

While the book explores both sides of the Cold War clash, Jack Ryan does prove to be somewhat of the protagonist. An academic who has great knowledge of maritime history, he is tapped to help guide the Americans through this clash with their Soviet counterparts. Clancy develops the Ryan character well, keeping his backstory and some development constant throughout the novel. I was intrigued about how he would fit into the larger narrative and saw that Clancy did not want him to steal the show, using many characters to push the story along.

The large number of characters and settings used in this novel help to make it even better. This is a story told through the eyes of many men, from two countries, pushing clashing ideological beliefs. All this drips from each page, as the reader is immersed in the politic from the very beginning. The battles are numerous, if only on paper, and Clancy heightens them with strong characters throughout the story. Ramius is but one whose struggles come to light throughout the book.

Many of the reviews and comments that I have read regarding this book point to its technical nature. While I agree that Clancy does get ‘into the dirt’ when it comes to marine technology and life on a submarine, it is essential to capture the true essence of the story and struggles. This detailed narrative is not for the impatient (of whom I see there are many who choose only to make one-liner comments as reviews) or those wanting something quick. Like a submarine, this is a slow a deliberate trolling through the narrative to build up a sense of urgency. It is, perhaps, the duelling perspectives that really capture the greatness of this book. Clancy offers accounts on both sides, providing the reader with something in-depth to really see how both sides struggle throughout. The characters were on point and I found myself intrigued by how they saw things developing. Clancy uses detailed chapters to really get to the heart of the matter, which might explain why some have found it overly long winded. However, that is, to me, an essential part of the process, particularly if it is not to be a one-sided affair. I am intrigued to see how Jack Ryan fits into the larger narrative and what will come of him. While I cannot commit to binge-reading the entire series, I will be back to see how Jack Ryan develops as a character and what else Clancy has to offer.

Kudos, Mr. Clancy, for opening my eyes with this stellar piece of fiction. I cannot wait to explore a little more, when time permits. A perfect buddy read for someone who knows so little and will be able to question a new recruit to the US Navy!

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
Profile Image for Ken.
2,164 reviews1,322 followers
July 14, 2019
For someone that has enjoyed the first four movie adaptations of the Jack Ryan books, it’s slightly surprising that it’s taken this long to finally read one!
Though it might have been the case that bookstores only seem to be stocking them now because of the Amazon TV series...

I’ve now got a couple of these on my pile, I opted to go for the first published rather than the chronological order.

This book was everything I’d hoped it to be, gripping and tense whilst Clancy’s detailed descriptions really transported me to that Cold War setting.
Obviously any book written around that time period will always feel authentic but theirs more of an understanding to the political threat and the terminology of the main players in this novel.

It’s been about 15 years since I’d watched the Baldwin movie and even though their was a familiarity to the premise, I was hooked to find out what would happen next.

I’m sure I’ll be grabbing another off the shelf sooner rather than later...
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.6k followers
June 20, 2011
Everyone always goes on about how meticulous Tom Clancy's background research is, but there was a moment in this book which made me wonder. They're going to run a big program on a military computer, and (being gamblin' military men) they decide to bet on how long it will take to complete. One of them asks how long the program is - number of lines, or punched cards, or whatever. The other one tells him, and then the first guy makes his estimate.

I'm sorry, this no doubt shows what a mean-spirited person I am, but it did cross my mind to wonder if Mr. Clancy knew what a loop was. I'm ashamed of myself. I'm sure there's any number of perfectly reasonable explanations.
Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 16 books1,511 followers
April 6, 2018
Read this one shortly after it came out and loved it, couldn't put it down. Don't know if it would hold up the same today.
Profile Image for Jane Stewart.
2,462 reviews847 followers
March 2, 2012
Writer’s style is not engaging or entertaining for me. He’s probably good for military technical buffs.

This guy is a popular best selling author. But not for me. I assume his fans are those who love to think and talk about military technical stuff - with a story to go along with it. The author is regularly welcomed aboard jets, submarines, and destroyers. Admirals and generals give him access, Pentagon officials debrief him, and many of his books are required reading at military colleges. So I assume he is accurate about these things.

There were too many characters to keep track of. And for each character, I only knew them through their work. There was no emotional development of characters, no seeing their feelings. I felt like this was “bring your daughter to work day,” and I was going along with my dad (and many other dads) listening and watching as they did their work and attended meetings. I wasn’t excited about anything. Parts were boring. I listened to the sonar guy for a while, then I listened to the captain of a ship for a while, then I listened to the Russian leaders meet and talk about what to do, then I listened to the CIA meet and talk about what to do, then a guy calls another guy talking about what to do. Throughout the book the reader is jumping around among different groups of military and political people.

I want interesting characters to watch, characters that pull me in emotionally. I want witty, interesting, or enlightening dialogue. I want interesting events that move the plot along. There were two interesting major climactic resolutions, but it took way too long to get to them, with nothing else good along the way. It was just watch the guys work. My mind wandered too often, and I wished it would be over.

I saw the movie many years ago and loved it. The movie had a very different feel, and it ended sooner than the book. I think the movie was one of those “inspired by” movies rather than “based on” the book. In the BOOK Jack and other U.S. leaders all believe Marco (the captain of the RO) wants to defect, and they have a plan and prepare for it. In the MOVIE, Jack believes Marco wants to defect but another US commander doesn’t. The commander plans to blow up the RO, and Jack has to convince him not to. At one point Jack lies to the US commander saying I know Marco so well that I know he will turn left at the next something. Jack was bluffing. But when Marco coincidentally turned left, the US commander cancels the order to attack. That scene was so intense that I still remember it all these years later. Nothing like that was in the book.

Anyway I wanted to try Tom Clancy, which is why I read this, but I won’t be reading any more.

The book is set around 1983, during the days of the “Cold War” between the U.S. and the USSR. It illustrates some of the thinking back then with nuclear threats on both sides. This is one of many books in the Jack Ryan series. Jack is an analyst for the CIA. The Red October is the name of a Russian submarine. The captain of the RO does not follow orders and is on the run from other USSR subs and ships. Jack is the first one to suggest the captain might want to defect. The U.S. navy and the Russian fleet are all trying to find the RO.

The narrator J. Charles spoke too quickly. It was jarring to concentrate on his speed of talking. Even between scenes and chapters there were almost no pauses.

Unabridged audiobook reading time: 16 hrs and 47 mins. Swearing language: strong, including religious swear words. Sexual content: none. Setting: Around 1983 U.S., USSR (Russia), and the Atlantic Ocean. Book copyright: 1984. Genre: military historical fiction. Ending: happy for the good guys.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,533 followers
December 19, 2020
I read this book when I was a kid before or immediately after the film. It was an exciting read and I became addicted to Clancy for a brief period before I realised how propagandistic his writing became for the military-industrial complex. Like the epic thriller with Sean Connery, this book is breathtakingly fast-paced and full of fun characters and the iconic Jack Ryan as a CIA agent. My father actually hunted Russian subs back in the 70s so he could attest to the realism of the scenario to a degree but particularly to the excitement during the cold war of the battle underwater. A great summer beach read.
Profile Image for Beata.
729 reviews1,113 followers
August 19, 2018
Tom Clancy is not my favourite writer but for mysterious reasons I have always been into reading books on submarine theme so did not miss out on The Hunt for Red October and enjoyed it thoroughly.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
851 reviews5,831 followers
February 20, 2022
In 3rd grade we had to read a book and do a presentation on it. I did this book. Forever being a weirdo overachiever.
Profile Image for L.M. Mountford.
Author 32 books1,154 followers
May 26, 2016
Could not finish.

This was my second try at reading a Tom Clancy and this was even more disappointing than the first. I suppose if I was an American and this was the height of the cold war, I might think differently but it's not the 80s and I am English, so too bad. This read like a propaganda novel, describing the Soviets as backwards and unreliable, belittling the 'Brits', and always emphasising American superiority. I won't deny it started off well, but then it got dull and i spent a lot of time just waiting for something to happen, and when something did happen, Clancy revealed it two pages before.

If you're considering reading this, just watch the movie.
Profile Image for P. Lundburg.
Author 7 books81 followers
December 29, 2017
In my opinion, this is Clancy's best book, even beyond the Jack Ryan stories. The depth of character coupled with the suspense of an underwater attack submarine chase makes this book so memorable that I read it a second time just to enjoy it again. The plotting is fantastic, but I have to say that it's the way Clancy crawls into the mind of a troubled Soviet sub captain that makes this story so rich for me. We get such a complete picture of the history and psyche of Capt. Ramius that we not only understand the complexity of what he's doing, but feel genuine and complete empathy for him in his plight. All of this is done through the action. Not a moment of suspense is paused while we get Ramius' plight and his desire. The intensity of the onboard and offboard politics is fantastic, and very believable. Great book, and highly recommended.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
August 21, 2008
4.0 stars. My first Tom Clancy novel and the one that made me an instant fan of his work. Jack Ryan is a terrific character and the plot was very well done. Highly recommended for fans of political thrillers.
Profile Image for Uhtred.
259 reviews11 followers
July 4, 2022
This is perhaps Tom Clancy's most known book and I first read it in the mid-80s, just out. I had a wonderful memory of it and must say that this rereading confirmed it. Of course, you can feel all the political changes that have taken place in these 35 and more years (the Soviet Union has been gone since 1991 ...) but it is still a beautiful, compelling and plausible thriller. The plot revolves, as the title says, on the escape of the Red October, a Russian nuclear submarine headed for the United States, and on the difficult decisions that the American military leaders must take to understand if the Russian submarine really wants to escape or if it is lying to unleash a third world war. There are two main protagonists, both unforgettable, because they are among the best in action literature. Tom Clancy was very good at describing the atmospheres, both physical and psychological, for example the sense of claustrophobia that exists on board a submarine, but also the moves of the senior officers towards the soldiers of their team. The book is quite long (600 pages) but it can be read in a very short time, because the desire to see how it ends is great. The first of the 2 protagonists is Marko Ramius, an admiral of the Soviet fleet who planned to desert and go to the USA, with the soldiers loyal to him, bringing the Red October, the last jewel of Russian submarines as a dowry to the Americans, equipped with the top secret anti-cavitation system, which makes it invisible to sonar.
During the first outing of the submarine, Ramius, who had long prepared himself, implements his plan and begins a journey to the US coast: some of his men know the plan but most of them don't. Ramius then has to tell them lies to get the submarine headed for America. And he also have to be very careful that no other US submarine intercepts it in the open sea before it arrives in America and can seek asylum. A somewhat complex undertaking, with the further threat of the Soviet Navy's vehicles, which could see his plan and destroy Red October rather than make it fall into the hands of the Americans. And in fact all this happens: on the one hand the Russians try to stop the deserter submarine and on the other the Americans suspect that Ramius is playing a double game to launch a surprise attack. Ramius is therefore between a rock and a hard place and here comes the other protagonist of the book, the CIA analyst, Jack Ryan, who analyzing Ramius' signals is convinced of his intentions and tries to convince the US government that Ramius does not want to blow up the third world war, but rather wants to deliver the jewel of the Soviet navy to the USA. I'll stop here, otherwise I'll spoil the pleasure of reading.
It is certainly a suspense book, with a bit of morale about Freedom, still due to the echoes of the Cold War, and with lots of super-technical details, relating to submarines and detection systems. Clancy's writing is very smooth and engaging, because it is very descriptive, and the characters are represented in an exceptional way. The psychological part is also very thorough and helps a lot to give the thriller atmosphere. A great book.
Profile Image for Eric.
871 reviews77 followers
April 28, 2014
Yes, I may be fashionably late to this party, considering the threat of war between Soviet Russia -- which doesn't exist anymore -- and Imperialist America is a major theme of this novel.

But I figured this should be my first experience with Tom Clancy, and I do not regret my decision at all. This is a near-perfect political thriller, juggling a dozen major characters on two continents as well as a myriad number of ships -- both on and under the Atlantic Ocean. While it was a bit tricky keeping track of everything at a few points, the minor confusion was well worth the scope of what Clancy achieved.

I also loved how I was fooled into thinking a later plot event was a rather weak climax, only to not have yet reached the true climax, which does not disappoint at all .

As a side note, when they wanted to make a movie out of this board game: description
All they had to do was adapt this book again, instead of doing this: description
But I guess that would have been too easy. Sigh.

Update: Okay, maybe I spoke too soon about the theme of this book being outdated. What a difference a year makes.
Profile Image for Donald Powell.
559 reviews34 followers
March 21, 2020
This is a long book. It has a lot of military jargon and acronyms. A bit more to my taste on the technical side; however, it is very engaging. The writing keeps the story moving with rising tension, unexpected events and reality based drama. It is a bit like Hollywood in many respects and not the type of book I normally read but it was on a list. Very entertaining if not a bit predictable.
Profile Image for Kevin Scott Olson.
Author 9 books349 followers
September 14, 2018

Thirty years on, this classic still works. The technology has become dated, but the themes are timeless.

A great read.
Profile Image for Thomas Stroemquist.
1,479 reviews121 followers
October 7, 2016
The very first in a ridiculously successful series of thrillers and not surprising, since it is an incredibly effective suspense story. Or at least I think it is. I haven't read the early Clancy books in many years and frankly, I'm very afraid to. I remember the bloated cheap hardback editions (that still weigh down my bookshelves at home) as almost un-put-downable rollercoaster adventures.

What I'm unsure of is if my taste in reading have shifted fundamentally or if Clancy's books took a horrible nosedive around or with Rainbow Six or so? Since I'm still able to enjoy the odd Alistair MacLean and Robert Ludlum (even if, in all honesty, it's been a while for those too), I'm holding out hope that this and The Cardinal of the Kremlin and others really are as good as I remember). But I'm not sure if I'll ever wage that Schrödinger's Cat-type bet and actually re-read them. I loved the movie based on this btw, but that had Sean Connery, and that's like cheating.
Profile Image for Lena.
1,144 reviews241 followers
July 4, 2020
And so it is for the third time I can say the movie was better than the book. The novel’s cast is as sprawling as high fantasy, the pace is plodding, the humor sparse. Worse, some of the MC Americans are pompous and dislikable.

The movie is tight, thrilling, funny, well scored, and memorable as hell. Sean Connery, James Earl Jones, and Alec Baldwin delivered better characters than Clancy wrote.
Time for a rewatch...

Profile Image for Kogiopsis.
763 reviews1,476 followers
April 4, 2011
Damn, Marko Ramius is an awesome character.
Just sayin'.

Real review:
Well, I've finally read a Clancy book. Yay me?
It reminded me a bit of the Honor Harrington series, which I guess makes sense. They're both military, after all; one has spaceships and the other has submarines and other than that the genre conventions seemed about the same. AND THEY BOTH HAVE ONE REALLY ANNOYING HABIT: The 'action action action loooooongwiiiiiinded descriiiiiiption of teeeeechnoooology' format. If I'd been paying attention instead of trying not to fall asleep in those bits I would have learned more about submarines than I ever wanted to know. As it was, I kinda skipped those bits.
Plot-wise, there's a lot of buildup. Like most of the book. And while it's interesting and yes, it's necessary, there are so many threads and they were disconnected for so long that I lost track of them. Clearly, Clancy is not an 'in late out early' sort of writer. Or maybe this is a first book thing?
I don't think I'd classify this as a thriller of any sort, because it was never really thrilling. Is it a spoiler to say that of course they got the Red October away safely and no one knew? Frankly, I don't think so. I mean, if they failed there would have been no book and if the Russians had found out Clancy would have had to turn this into a series. Since neither of these things are true, the operations must have been a success. Simple logical deduction. So this isn't a book that you want to read to find out what happened so much as how it happened, and at that Clancy excels. I'm obviously not a submariner, but this has been well-recieved by the navy and certainly seemed meticulously researched.

Clancy is now on my radar (ahem, pun?) enough that I'll read more of his work later. I'm in no big rush, though. Also, this book was difficult for me to get through and I don't need another millstone novel to slow me down reading everything else.
Profile Image for RC.
213 reviews29 followers
November 25, 2021
A solid blast of 80s Cold War nostalgia. To wit, at one point in the book, the crew of a Soviet nuclear submarine somewhere deep in the Atlantic wipe tears away after they’ve finished watching a VHS tape of E.T. What the book lacks in rounded characters or intelligent discussion of spycraft or international politics, it makes up for in stupefying levels of detail about how military things work: how jets are landed on aircraft carriers at night in storms, how a VTOL Harrier takes off at sea, how a nuclear reactor on a Soviet submarine is configured, how submarines and destroyers see each other, how many nuclear warheads are on a Soviet submarine, etc. You can’t help but learn something reading this, and the book was apparently required reading among people in the Navy.

Clancy’s worldview is childishly Manichean: All of his American and British characters are noble, brilliant, and good, while the Soviets (except for the crew of Red October) are wily and bad. But the humans aren’t the real
focus here; the vehicles and equipment are. It’s all a bit ridiculous, including the premise and the obsession about various forms of hardware, but this was very much how the Cold War played out: We kept on building and deploying more shit, forcing the other side to also keep building and deploying more shit. We hardly ever used any of it. The point was to have it, and force the other side to reckon with the facts of what we had.

All that said, I enjoyed it, despite myself.
Profile Image for Nathaniel.
72 reviews15 followers
August 18, 2007
Probably my favorite Tom Clancy novel, and certainly my favorite on submarine warfare, this book introduces Jack Ryan as a young and bright CIA analyst faced with a politically explosive situation. Realistic politics, thrilling submarine chases and battles, and believable characters make this come together well.
Profile Image for Jülie ☼♄ .
489 reviews22 followers
August 6, 2015

This was a fantastic story, one of my all time favourites. All in the Jack Ryan series are great.
This one was made into a movie which was also very good.
Profile Image for Rob.
848 reviews535 followers
August 1, 2016
Executive Summary: A pretty fun spy thriller that occasionally gets bogged down by too much military jargon.

Audio book: This is my first time listening to a book read by J. Charles. He's a pretty good reader. I initially felt like he read too fast, but I either got used to it, or he slowed down. He does many accents, although with multiple Russian characters, I'm not sure if he made them all sound the same, or I simply couldn't tell them apart.

The book also uses sound effects to simulate phone calls and radio talk on the ships/submarines that I thought was well done. All and all I think the audiobook edition adds something extra to the story.

Full Review
This is my first time reading this book. I had previously seen and enjoyed the movie. It's been awhile so I have a hard time comparing the two. I might have slightly enjoyed the movie more however.

There are a few parts of this book that seemed to get bogged down with too much military jargon and side antidotes that I don't think always added much to the main story.

The main story however is a lot of fun though. There is a reason why several of Mr. Clancy's Jack Ryan books have been turned into movies. He does a great job writing a fast pace spy novel that translates well to a big screen. It doesn't seem like they had to do too much to the story to make a good movie out of it.

This isn't a book for great character depth or intricate subplots, but was the perfect choice as a palette cleanser from the last book I listened to. Most people are probably familiar with Tom Clancy and most likely Jack Ryan. He's not really a gun-toting action hero, but an intelligent analyst able to out think his enemies.

I plan to continue on in the series (in publication order rather than chronological order) at some point, especially if I can get a hold of them in audiobook for cheap or from the library.

3.5 Stars
Profile Image for ஐ Briansgirl (Book Queen)ஐ.
977 reviews17 followers
June 11, 2009
This is a very good story that is incredibly researched. However, in this instance, I'd have to say the movie is better. The reason is that the movie is simplified. This is a very complex book involving military strategy. Even being a ten year veteran of our armed forces, and familiar with military language and acroynms, I found this book slow to read. The author did extensive research into soviet and allied submarines in particular, but also all naval vessels and even aircraft. He receits specifications frequently throughout the book. It's not out of place or inappropriate, but it's not easy for the average civilian reader to follow at times. The movie simplified this. I choose this Clancy novel to start with as I loved the movie. But after taking two weeks to read this, I'll have to decide if I want to read any others. I'm curious to follow Jack Ryan's career, but doubt I could get through all 12 or 14 books in this series. (Check wikipedia for the list of related books that follow Jack Ryan's career.)
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