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The Bear and the Dragon Hardcover – August 21, 2000

2.8 out of 5 stars 1,357 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Power is delightful, and absolute power should be absolutely delightful--but not when you're the most powerful man on earth and the place is ticking like a time bomb. Jack Ryan, CIA warrior turned U.S. president, is the man in the hot seat, and in this vast thriller he's up to his nostrils in crazed Asian warlords, Russian thugs, nukes that won't stay put, and authentic, up-to-the-nanosecond technology as complex as the characters' motives are simple. Quick, do you know how to reprogram the software in an Aegis missile seekerhead? Well, if you're Jack Ryan, you'd better find someone who does, or an incoming ballistic may rain fallout on your parade. Bad for reelection prospects. "You know, I don't really like this job very much," Ryan complains to his aide Arnie van Damm, who replies, "Ain't supposed to be fun, Jack."

But you bet The Bear and the Dragon is fun--over 1,000 swift pages' worth. In the opening scene, a hand-launched RPG rocket nearly blows up Russia's intelligence chief in his armored Mercedes, and Ryan's clever spooks report that the guy who got the rocket in his face instead was the hoodlum "Rasputin" Avseyenko, who used to run the KGB's "Sparrow School" of female prostitute spies. Soon after, two apparent assassins are found handcuffed together afloat in St. Petersburg's Neva River, their bloated faces resembling Pokémon toys.

The stakes go higher as the mystery deepens: oil and gold are discovered in huge quantities in Siberia, and the evil Chinese Minister Without Portfolio Zhang Han San gazes northward with lust. The laid-off elite of the Soviet Army figure in the brewing troubles, as do the new generation of Tiananmen Square dissidents, Zhang's wily, Danielle Steel-addicted executive secretary Lian Ming, and Chester Nomuri, a hip, Internet-porn-addicted CIA agent posing in China as a Japanese computer salesman. He e-mails his CIA boss, Mary Pat "the Cowgirl" Foley, that he intends to seduce Ming with Dream Angels perfume and scarlet Victoria's Secret lingerie ordered from the catalog--strictly for God and country, of course. Soon Ming is calling him "Master Sausage" instead of "Comrade," but can anybody master Ming?

The plot is over the top, with devastating subplots erupting all over the globe and lurid characters scaring the wits out of each other every few pages, but Clancy finds time to insert hard-boiled little lessons on the vileness of Communism, the infuriating intrusions of the press on presidential power, the sexual perversions of Mao, the poor quality of Russian pistol silencers ("garbage, cans loaded with steel wool that self-destructed after less than ten shots"), the folly of cutting a man's throat with a knife ("they flop around and make noise when you do that"), and similar topics. Naturally, the book bristles like a battlefield with intriguingly intricate military hardware.

When you've got a Tom Clancy novel in hand, who needs action movies? --Tim Appelo

From Publishers Weekly

"Klingons" is how hero Jack Ryan describes the villainsDthe Communist Chinese PolitburoDof Clancy's mammoth new novel; other Yanks refer to Chinese soldiers as "Joe Chinaman." It's not for subtlety of characterization, then, that this behemoth proves so relentlessly engrossing. Nor is it for any modulation in the arc of its action, which moves insistently from standstill to hurtle. Nor is it for the author's (expressed) understanding of life's viscissitudes; in this Clancyverse, no white hat with a name dies, but every black hat gets whupped bad. Partly it's for the sheer bulkDif ever a book should come equipped with wheels, it's this oneDwhich plunges readers into a sea of words so vast that, after hours of paddling happily through brisk prose, the horizon remains hidden from sight. Mostly, though, it's because that sea glitters with undeniable authority. Clancy has demonstrated in earlier books (Rainbow Six, etc.) that he towers above other novelists in his ability to deliver geo-political, techo-military goods on a global scaleDand here he's at the top of that war-gaming. With aplomb, he spins numerous plot strandsDamong them: a Sino-American spy seduces his way into Politburo secrets; enormous oil and gold reserves are discovered in Siberia; the new Papal Nuncio to Beijing is murdered; the Politburo orders a hit on a top Russian officialDthat lead to a Chinese invasion of Russia and a credible war scenario that occupies the novel's last quarter and that culiminates in a nuclear crescendo. Each thread carries a handbook's worth of intoxicating, expertly researchedDseemingly insideDinformation, about advanced weapons of war and espionage, about how various governments work, complemented always with ponderings about the tensions between individual honor and the demands of state. Add to that the excitement for Clancy fans of this being the first novel to feature not just Jack Ryan but also, in significant subordinate roles, Jack Clark and Ding Chavez of Rainbow Six and other tales, and you've got a juggernaut that's going to hit #1 its first week out and stay there for a good while. 2 million first printing; BOMC main selection; author tour.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1028 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam; 1st edition (August 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039914563X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399145636
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,357 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As an avid Clancy fan, who's read all of his books and owns most of them in hard cover, I found this book to be a bit of a dissapointment that doesn't even approach Clancy's normal high standards. Its a definite "must read" for Clancy fans, but for everyone else I'd highly recommend skipping this one at least until reading most of Clancy's other books.
The plot of the book, as the title implies, focuses on Russia and China, but mostly the latter. In a nutshell, a diplomatic incident plus some trade negotiations with the U.S. gone badly awry lead China to seek to take advantage of some new found economic luck by their neighbors to the north. There are a lot of parallels between US / Japanese relations leading up to WW2. along the way, there are assasination attempts and spycraft, but at a high level that sums up Clancy's latest effort.
First, the book's bad points:
1. Obviously Clancy now considers himself above editors - cause its obvious this book was not edited at all. There are at least 7 or 8 occasions where characters thoughts are repeated, verbatim, 2 or 3 times over the course of the book (for example, Ryan's belief that 'Daughters are god's punishment to fathers for being men' ... Ryan 'thinks' this about 4 different times during the book) and there are a fair amount of spelling/typo type errors that detract from the enjoyment of the book.
2.
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Format: Hardcover
Five minutes ago, I told my wife and sons that this book was a HUGE disappointment. Being a big fan of Clancy, I could not wait for this book to come out. Usually it takes me at most, 3 days to read one of his books, but I am STILL working my way through this one after 6 days. So when my wife asked me why, I told her that this was a 400 page book stretched out forEVER. The first thing it reminded me of was when Ludlum started taking himself too seriously and writing huge boring books.
So I told my wife that I was going to go online and check out the Amazon review's to see if my comments were indicative of others who read the book. And sure enough, the second review I read by I think the name was Lane Shelton, could have been written by me as the comments were ALL the same as mine.
How many times do we have to hear this character ruminate that he didn't want the job, and doesn't know how to do it, but for the sake of the country he will do it. SHUT UP already, we got the point in the last few books but banging us over the head again and again and again is just ridiculous. And Clancy seems to be spending the entire book pontificating his moral authority and political beliefs thru this white knight who can do no wrong. I could not believe how repetitive he was in this book and I am only at page 500. It seems that he says the same sentance at least 3 different times, and he seems to be doing that on more than one sentance. In addition, Clancy repeats his political views, for example on abortion, over and over as if he hadn't told us yet. Tom, how many times do we have to hear about the 'previous' presidents preoccupation with sex.
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By A Customer on September 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have long been an admirer of TC as a plotter and writer, despite his occasional lapses. [But never an admirer of his "as told to, but written but someone else" Op-Center products.]
With Bear-Dragon, TC has fully descended into Clavell's Disease - that syndrome which causes formerly creative and exciting writers to ACT like they're being paid by the word, which one should not do, even if one IS paid that way. Too many words (a fair-to-good 500-pager fluffed to 1 kilopage), too many subplots, too many characters, too many moral lessons.
And the editing! Are TC's editors now afraid to point out to him that he's used the same phrase, metaphor, simile, or analogy several times before - a few hundred pages ago? It's distracting and it's unprofessional. Sure people will buy the book anyhow, because of TC's name, but those loyal readers are owed a better book - I suggest we are owed a better book with each outing. Bear-Dragon isn't it, Tom.
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Format: Hardcover
I was interested in seeing where Mr. Clancy would take Jack Ryan after the last installment of his adventures. While they were always highly improbable, they did have the whiff of realism and were highly entertaining. "The Bear and the Dragon" fails on multiple levels, the most damning of which is it's stultifying pace and the bigoted opinions of the author. It is essentially a vanity piece where Mr. Clancy allows his ego to recreate a world where everything is as it should be... according to his sophomoric intellect. All the cabinet officers have been to Jesuit colleges, except for "the Jew". All are adamantly antiabortion (he discourses at some length on this) and it is a testament to his laziness or lack of ability that all the characters keep using the same phrases and obscenities. The impression I got was that the novel generating software Mr. Clancy uses is not the latest upgrade.
In comparison, while "The Hunt for Red October" was a taut lean thriller that was enjoyable and informative, "The Bear and the Dragon" was a bloated, lethargic and even offensive in its lack of regard for the readers intelligence and its author's indulgence of his own pathetic fantasies.
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