Tom Clancy, bestselling author, dies at 66

The writer of The Hunt for Red October and The Sum of All Fears died in Baltimore on Tuesday

Tom Clancy
(Image credit: (Robert Mora/Getty Images))

On Wednesday, The Baltimore Sun reported that American author Tom Clancy — whose name is inseparable from an entire genre of tech-savvy military and espionage thrillers that he almost single-handedly popularized — had died at a Baltimore hospital on Tuesday night. He was 66.

Clancy's first novel, The Hunt for Red October, was published in in 1984 to strong sales and solid reviews — including a rave from President Ronald Reagan, who declared the book "a perfect yarn." Clancy followed the successful novel with a string of similarly pitched bestsellers like Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears (many of which featured his signature protagonist, Jack Ryan, who rose from CIA analyst to U.S. president over the course of the novels).

Tom Clancy is one of the few authors in modern history to successfully evolve from writer to brand. Hollywood eagerly adapted Clancy's numerous novels into blockbusters starring some of the hottest actors of their respective eras, including Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. And in 1996, when many were still content to dismiss video games as child's play, Clancy co-founded video game developer Red Storm Entertainment. In the years since, dozens of popular video game titles have borne his name, including Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, and Splinter Cell.

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Though he's been credited only as a cowriter on several novels over the past decade, Clancy's most prolific "appearances" have been on the covers of novels he didn't write, as the name "Tom Clancy" has been licensed out to numerous ghost writers — a tribute to the weight his name continues to carry in the genre he popularized, and the authors who continue to be influenced by his work.

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