Best-Selling Author Tom Clancy Dead at 66

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 2 2013 10:26 AM

RIP, Tom Clancy

Author Tom Clancy listens to questions during a discussion June 1, 2004 in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

Tom Clancy, the author of well-known military and spy thrillers like The Hunt for Red October and Patriot Games, died Tuesday at a hospital in Baltimore. He was 66. His publisher confirmed news of his death but did not disclose a cause.

Clancy found literary fame seemingly out of nowhere in the mid-1980s. He was selling insurance when he made his literary debut with The Hunt for the Red October, a copy of which eventually found its way into the hands of the commander-in-chief. The New York Times with the details:

The book took off when President Ronald Reagan, who had received a copy, called it "my kind of yarn" and said that he couldn’t put it down.
After the book’s publication in 1985, Mr. Clancy was praised for his mastery of technical details about Soviet submarines and weaponry. Even high-ranking members of the military took notice of the book’s apparent inside knowledge. In an interview in 1986, Mr. Clancy said, “When I met Navy Secretary John Lehman last year, the first thing he asked me about the book was, ‘Who the hell cleared it?’ “

The book was later turned into a Hollywood blockbuster in 1990 (staring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin), as were his Jack Ryan sequels Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger (both of which starred Harrison Ford).

Clancy produced a total of 17 No. 1 NYT bestsellers during his nearly 30-year professional writing career. That number will no doubt climb to 18 later this year with the release of his newest book, Command Authority, set to be published in December. One of his bestsellers, Rainbow Six, was adapted to widely successful series of first-person shooter video games.

Slate will have more on Clancy later.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

This post has been updated with additional information.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 



Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.


Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Damned Spot
Sept. 30 2014 9:00 AM Now Stare. Don’t Stop. The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
Sept. 30 2014 9:32 AM Why Are Mint Condition Comic Books So Expensive?
  Double X
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal. But… What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.