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Tom Clancy's 1987 novel Patriot Games is about a former intelligence analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency now employed primarily as a history professor at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland who is thrust by a unique set of circumstances into the middle of the war against Irish terrorism. While traveling in London, England, with is wife and daughter, Jack Ryan suddenly finds himself in the middle of an attempted murder-kidnapping of the Prince and Princess of Wales and their baby carried out by a Maoist offshoot of the Irish Liberation Army called the Ulster Liberation Army. Having succeeded, albeit, inadvertently, in obstructing the terrorist plot and killing one of the terrorists in the process, Ryan and is family become the target of a revenge operation by the terrorists, who also remain intent on kidnapping the Royal Family. As readers had become accustomed by Clancy's previous novels, The Hunt for Red October and Red Storm Rising, the author provides copious amounts of detail regarding the organizations, tactics and technologies involved in tracking down terrorist organizations.
As the student's "question" specifies that a "review" of Patriot Games is requested, then the student's own subjective perspectives into Clancy's novel are required. A book review accomplishes two main objectives: it describes the story's plot, and it comments on the quality of the writing. The plot of Patriot Games is provided above. Comments on the author's skill in relating his story, however, will require at a minimum a cursory review of the novel's text, a link to which is provided below.
Tom Clancy's novels were consistently praised for the wealth of research and detail provided in each story. Clancy maintained personal friendships with numerous military officers as well as officials from various national security agencies across the U.S. Government. The information he provided on military and intelligence matters was often highly accurate, if just as frequently embellished in terms of the practical application of technologies discussed. More importantly, however, were the criticisms of Clancy's writing style as being unimaginative (in terms of personal relationships) and lacking in the kind of style common to more gifted writers of espionage like John Le Carre and Graham Greene. In short, Clancy clearly gave higher priority to discussions of military technologies than to the psychological frameworks that shaped his characters. Patriot Games was no different. Jack Ryan is the quintessential heroic American literary figure, but he is also a superficial figure who serves to propel action without being burdened by the kinds of self-doubts that permeate the works of more cynical and less overtly patriotic authors. And that was one of the more common criticisms of Clancy. He was very nationalistic in his orientation, and very cold in his presentation. (Having met him twice, this educator can attest to the author's impersonal and somewhat abrasive demeanor.)
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