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309 of 314 people found the following review helpful
Tom Clancy has created several fictional heroes that are at the heart of his many novels. One, of course, is John Patrick Ryan, who has served his country as a Marine, CIA officer, National Security Adviser, and President of the United States. With the exception of Red Storm Rising (a book that is not set in Clancy's "Ryan-verse"), Jack Ryan appears or is talked about in every novel from The Hunt for Red October to The Teeth of the Tiger.
The other major character Clancy readers have come to admire is John Clark, a man who works for the other side of the Agency as a paramilitary officer. Whether he is in Colombia using a laser target designator to help bomb a Medellin Cartel member's mansion or leading a multinational antiterrorist team called Rainbow, Clark is the type of man our government needs to use while denying his existence.
But John Clark has a past wrapped in mystery, one his family doesn't know much about and is a closely guarded secret. For John Clark was once ex-SEAL John T. Kelly, Vietnam veteran, avid diver and sailor.
But when Kelly's girlfriend is brutally murdered by a Baltimore drug lord's henchmen, the otherwise peacable and war-weary Kelly vows revenge. Dispensing his own version of street justice relentlessly and without remorse, Kelly must not only avoid being killed by the drug dealers, but he also has to evade the dogged detective work of Baltimore cop Emmett Ryan, a World War II vet and father of the future President.
Adding to his already complicated life, Admiral James Greer recruits Kelly to participate in a daring rescue mission into North Vietnam. But when a radicalized American antiwar activist gets wind of this secret military operation, events will drive John Terence Kelly down a path that he never intended to take.
Although published 11 years after The Hunt for Red October, this taut and thrilling novel is the first chapter of the long-running Jack Ryan saga. If you are just entering the Ryan-verse, read this entertaining book first.
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103 of 108 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2002
"Without Remorse" is the page turner to beat all page turners. I brought this book to Korea with me the first time I went there, knowing that I'd have some spare time at the end of a six week tour there. I was expecting to maybe read half of the book in that time and finish it when I came home. No way! Once I started this book, it was done in less that 48 hours. You simply cannot put this one down for something as trivial as sleeping or eating. Tom Clancy goes into great detail giving the whole backstory on John Kelly/Clark. Once you've read this book, you'll be thinking back on all that came before and after it saying to yourself, "this is how and why John Clark does what he does." It is extremely heart wrenching to read what happens to Pam and how John Clark deals with it. You feel as if you want to be there with him, ready to take out some vigilante justice. I had originally skipped this one and read his next novel, what a mistake that was. Even though I knew that John Clark was in the next novel, I kept saying a prayer hoping he doesn't get killed in this one. That is how good a writer Tom Clancy is. I don't know if there's such a thing as a writer's hall of fame, if not, there should be one with Tom Clancy right there at the top. Thank you very much to Tom Clancy for an absolutely great read!
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134 of 143 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2010
This is by far my favorite Clancy book, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the Jack Ryan series, or anyone with an interest in military fiction. It is definitely a 4-5 star book.

The reason that I give it 3 stars is the Kindle conversion. The formatting is just not professional enough for a Kindle book priced at $6-$7. There are a LOT of misspelled words, and many of them aren't even properly-spelled but wrong words -- they are just gibberish. Also, Clancy makes heavy use of italicized text, which the Kindle version tends to munge up. If it was one or two, I could live with it, but it's at least one every few pages, and some have so many that it distracts from the story.

Summary: great story, fantastic writing, just a horrible editing job in the Kindle version.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2000
This book was written during Clancy's prime. He exquisitely tells the tale of John Kelly, whom we know best as John Clark. It's gripping, suspenseful, and action-packed, focusing more on personal vendetta and the anger that fuels Kelly rather than on military technology and international diplomacy (don't get me wrong, technology and diplomacy can be thrilling). Through "Without Remorse," we're able to see mystery man Clark in a whole new light. Not just as some CIA spook that appears in ,"The Cardinal of the Kremlin", "Clear and Present Danger"," and "The Sum of All Fears". This story gives Clark background, something that Jack Ryan achieved in "Patriot Games". And Clark deserves it, too. He is my favorite Clancy character, and he makes a great partner with Ding Chavez, his protoge. If you read one Clancy novel, read "Rainbow Six." If you read another, read "WITHOUT REMORSE."
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2001
This is one of Clancy's finest works, and although somewhat less of a "techno" book than his early efforts, a superb read, that introduces John Kellys (now John Clark) background.The book explains how he became a CIA opperative after his time in the navy. As John Clark is probably Clancys most interesting character most people who have read Clancy before will enjoy discovering his rather dark past.
It was daring of Clancy to turn away from his most well known character Jack Ryan, and have Kelly as his leading man, but the gamble seems to have paid off, resulting in a compelling read which is hard to put down.
So as not to dissapoint his most eager eyed fans Ryan can actually be found in the book, having a discussion with his parents upon his choice to join the Marines, and it is Ryans father, a cop, who is investigating the drug ring and then Kelly which is vital to the plot.
The plot is quite good, and probably somewhat more realistic than the world wars that act as the backdrop to most of Clancys novels. As expected the action sequences are brilliant written in true Clancy style, and as the tension builds toward the end of the book you really will not want to put it down.
All in All this is Clancy at his best, and is well worth a read, even if nomally you wouldnt touch a Clancy book. Its good to see Clancy writing as he is best able to do, hyper fast pace, superb action in gory detail, and good character development, rather than endless ramble about Clancys rather conservative political views that spoil some of his -otherwise excellent- novels.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
I've heard a number of mixed reviews on this book. Most people I've talked to say this book is just so so. Most people on here have written that this book is "amazing", or "Clancy's best". I'll agree with the former; the latter will always be up to debate.
This book is different than the typical Clany novel in two ways.
1) It doesn't feature Jack Ryan.
2) It's a personal story.
The first point is self explanitory, but the second may need clarification. Those that have read Clancy's other works understand his strenghts: weaving interesting characters in a technical environment designing thick plotlines that span global environments (that may have sounded dumb but it's true).
Without Remorse is none of that. It's the story of one man and his quest for vengence. It's also an exploration of whether or not can be justified. Clancy keeps pushing the envelope, baraging the character(s) with events that will test even the most forgiving person's morals. Is vigilanteism justified? I've never read a book that poses as many arguments for it. And yet, even after Clancy makes every excuse in the world to justify Clarks actions in the book, he plainly and tastefully keeps the book as a whole objective, never glorifying violence.
In the setting of Clark's quest for vengeance we also get to witness Clancy writing in a more intimate and emotional fashion. The book rarely strays from Clarks point of view (a first for this writer who is known for bouncing all over the place). The story really moved me emotionally a few times as Clancy unfolded the lives of the characters (almost cried in one part).
People expecting stereotypical Clancy may be disappointed by this departure, but don't be mistaken; this is a fine book in it's own right. Never have I been more impressed with Clancy's writing.
Why only four stars then? Well because honestly the book is not as strong on the plot department as most Clancy books, and the ending is not as climactic as Clancy readers have come to expect. This isn't to say the book is weak in those departments; just not that strong. The other strengths of this book help make up this novel's 'very good' (4 star) rating.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2002
If you've never read any other Clancy novel, read "Without Remorse."
In typical Clancy fashion, Without Remorse is a lengthy novel filled with great characters, lots of suspense, and more! But it breaks from the Clancy norm in that it's not as intricately detailed, technically-speaking, which makes it a great book to recommend to 1st-time Clancy readers.
For those who have read other Clancy novels, and therefore may be familiar with the main character, John Clark... or if you've seen the movie "Clear & Present Danger" or the more recent "Sum of All Fears" and recall Clark (played by Willem Dafoe and Liev Schreiber, respectively)... Without Remorse gives you the story behind the deadly CIA operative.
Not that I don't thoroughly enjoy the Jack Ryan series, but the Clark character is mysteriously intriguing and telling his history is Clancy at his best. It's my favorite Clancy novel.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2001
Without Remorse By Tom Clancy
As one of Clancy's best books so far, I believe Without Remorse deserves all five stars. It is different than other Tom Clancy books. In his other books, the main conflict deals with another country, however, in Without Remorse, the main conflict occurs on the streets of America. The book is set throughout the later years of the Vietnam War and deals with the life of John Kelly. The book tells about his beginnings and how he eventually came to join the CIA. Several people who have read other Clancy novels will identify John Kelly as the CIA legend Mr. Clark. John Kelley was still emotionally depressed by the loss of his first wife and his soon to be born child when he meets up with a hitchhiker named Pam. He quickly falls in love with her and he soon discovers about her past life as a drug addict and prostitute. On the boat ride to his island off the coast of Baltimore they befriend a married pair of doctors. The doctors tell him that he needs to bring Pam into Baltimore so they can check on her. But once he enters Baltimore, his life unravels right before him. Some gangsters spot and recognize Pam. They follow John's car and riddle it with bullets. They kidnap Pam and eventually kill her. They leave John for dead but he is just hanging on to life. When John realizes what has happened he cannot deal with the stress of losing another loved one in so short a period of time. He decides to do something. He will take revenge for Pam on the gangsters that killed her. This is when Kelly's history comes into play. John is an ex-Marine. He is also part of an elite group of Marines called the SEALs. He uses the knowledge that he has and trains himself for his task. He disguises himself as a homeless person and starts to stalk drug dealers around the city. His ultimate goal is to find the people responsible for Pam's death and murder them. At the same time the Pentagon has found a secret prisoner of war camp in Vietnam. It looks like a normal camp but all of the prisoners are supposedly dead. The North Vietnamese were sending pictures to the Army of "dead" soldiers. The Vietnamese were letting the Russians interrogate the prisoners in exchange for arms. Admiral Greer and Admiral Maxwell decided that they should liberate the camp and they start looking for people who know the area. The only Marine that was ever there is John Kelly. He had saved Admiral Greer's son from the place before it was a prison camp. The rest of the book describes how the attempted liberation of the camp goes. It also tells how Kelly's quest for revenge leads him into trouble and into the CIA. The only problem with the book is that it is very realistic in the violence that is portrayed. There are many scenes that someone with a weak stomach should not read. This book also helps explain much about the John Clark character as well as many other characters that are in The Sum of All Fears, Clear and Present Danger, and The Bear and the Dragon. Another part that helps the book go along smoothly is that most of the military jargon is left out. This book is a must read and once you pick it up, you won't be able to put it back down.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2000
The Clark/Ryan continuity has held my interest from my first go at Red October... this one lived up to the rest...it might even be the best thing Mr. Clancy has written. But that said, I've re-read everything else at least once... Red Storm Rising has gets dusted off about once a year. This one I have never cracked again after the initial read (which was virtually a single sitting). Why? It is not a pleasant book. John Kelly gets a few brutal reality checks in this chapter of his life, which brings us to understand him as Clark in his later interactions with or main series hero, Jack Ryan. The extent, nature, and grimly authentic language used by Clancy setting the grisly tableau of Kelly's new-found and harshly lost love... It is simply not a book I have felt the urge to experience a second time. But it is still amazing. Gripping, enthralling, and wrenching.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2001
I first read this book 3 or 4 years ago; I can't quite remember, but this one's like Hugo's "Les Miserables" in that once I pick it up, I don't put it away 'til it's completely read. I've read both books through at least 2 times each. John Kelly/Clark is somebody I'd want in my corner on any given day-were he a real person. Clancy's portrayal of Kelly/Clark is one of a tortured soul; experiences have carved their scars on this guy's heart and he doesn't forget them. I was intensely surprised by the relationship between he and Nurse Sandy O'Toole. (READ THE BOOK!). This one works; I've read other Clancy writings. This one lets you into John Kelly's head to see where he came from and why he decides to avenge the death of Pam Madden. And we all can ask ourselves, "would we do the same if we knew someone who had been treated like Pam had?" Thought-provoking. Great read; great writing. A DEFINITE page turner.
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