Thomas L. Clancy, Jr., is often described as the “king of the technothriller,” a genre in which elements from science fiction and suspense combine with descriptions of advanced military technology to drive the plot. The second of three children, Clancy was born into an Irish American, working-class family in Baltimore. His father was a postman, and his mother was a department store credit clerk. Educated in parochial schools, Clancy, a self-described “nerd” who enjoyed playing military board games, was an avid reader, especially of military history books and science fiction. Poor eyesight kept Clancy from joining the military as had his father, a World War II Navy veteran, but he did join the ROTC while at Loyola College. There he majored in English and dreamed of becoming a famous novel writer. After graduation in 1969, Clancy married Wanda Thomas and became an insurance underwriter in Connecticut; he later worked at the insurance firm in Maryland owned by Wanda’s grandfather. The couple had three daughters and one son. In 1980 Clancy bought the family company, which afforded him some time to focus again on writing. (In 1998 Clancy and Thomas divorced, and in 2000 Clancy married former television newscaster Alexandra Maria Llewellyn.)
According to Helen S. Garson, author of Tom Clancy: A Critical Companion (1996), Clancy’s early love of science fiction combined with his fascination with military gadgets and technology, interest in computers, reverence for all things related to the military, and patriotic fervor to create a solid base for the genre for which he would become famous.
Like James A. Michener, famous for his in-depth research of people and places for novels such as Hawaii (1959) and Centennial (1974), Clancy writes his novels and nonfiction works after conducting extensive research in military technology, culled from such publications as the Armed Forces Weekly and Jane’s Defence Weekly, and collaborating with subject experts ranging from Soviet defectors to retired Air Force generals. The resulting best-sellers contain tremendous detail about terrorist operations, fleet maneuvers, military hardware, and intelligence technology.
Clancy based his first novel on the real-life attempted defection to Sweden by the crew of the Storojeroï, a Soviet frigate. After conducting extensive research on nuclear submarines, and with advice from then-naval analyst and computer war game expert Larry Bond, author of Red Phoenix...
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