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Dead or Alive (A Jack Ryan Novel) Paperback – September 27, 2011
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“Heart-stopping action…entertaining and eminently topical.” —The Washington Post
“The best characters from all of Clancy’s previous novels are on the case.…For fans of the genre, Dead or Alive is likely to provide a long weekend’s pleasure.”—Los Angeles Times
“Clancy is back at the top of his game…In-depth research, continuous suspense, and scores of fascinating characters.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
A little more than thirty years ago Tom Clancy was a Maryland insurance broker with a passion for naval history. Years before, he had been an English major at Baltimore’s Loyola College and had always dreamed of writing a novel. His first effort, The Hunt for Red October—the first of the phenomenally successful Jack Ryan novels—sold briskly as a result of rave reviews, then catapulted onto the New York Times bestseller list after President Reagan pronounced it “the perfect yarn.” From that day forward, Clancy established himself as an undisputed master at blending exceptional realism and authenticity, intricate plotting, and razor-sharp suspense. He passed away in October 2013.
Grant Blackwood, a U.S. Navy veteran, spent three years aboard a guided missile frigate as operations specialist and pilot rescue swimmer. He is coauthor, with Clive Cussler, of the New York Times bestsellers Spartan Gold and Lost Empire. He is also the author of the Briggs Tanner series—The End of Enemies, The Wall of Night, and An Echo of War. He lives in Colorado.
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When he talks weapons, he goes into the detail that a munitions dealer would deal with. In this novel we see operators using a Knights Armament M110 Sniper System. He tells you it's the best because he has done the homework. It is facts like this that the master storyteller weaves into the tapestry of his books that many readers including myself find fascinating.
I am not going to discuss the plot in detail because that's why we read the book. Here's what you need to know. This is a big blot book which is what most of Clancy's books represent. In this case, Jack Ryan is a retired President of the United States. His son Jack Junior is running a secret independent anti-terrorist agency that his father the President started.
It is called The Campus, and it has been successful for years going after the bad guys. The current President seems to be weak on terrorism and is more concerned with guaranteeing the legal rights of the bad guys than protecting the country. You are already seeing the subplots develop.
Clancy puts us in the thick of it. We as readers are in the game. When Delta Force operators and Rangers go into the caves of Afghanistan we are with them. We breathe the odors; we hear the sounds, and we feel the tension. We find ourselves silencing our own voices because we don't want the good guys to be caught, and that is classic Clancy.
In this book there is evil in the world, and in DEAD or ALIVE, an evil man in the world is at lodge. He has wreaked havoc on the Western world. We call him the Emir, and his objective is to deal a devastating terrorist blow to the United States. The book takes you around the world while Ryan Junior, and his father's old hands John Clark and Ding Chavez join Ryan along with Brian and Dominic Caruso with Mary Foley.
It's a race for time, and for America. Will the good guys win, and where is the Emir? Is he in a cave 8,000 miles away or is he right here among us? You will have to read the book to find out and oh what an ending.
Why I Love Clancy and you will too?
Please allow me to give you a feel why Clancy was the absolute best writer in his fiction segment. It is his incessant ability to weave odd important facts into his stories, and to weave reality into the fabric of the plot:
* His description of the computer setup at the National Security Agency is without equal.
* There are 125,000 cranes in the world and currently Dubai has 30,000 of them currently building and rebuilding the city. Who knows things like this?
* Plans do not survive the first contact with the enemy.
* Laziness has consequences. If you are a sentry, if you pause, if you hesitate, if you light up a cigarette, you are DEAD.
* You don't have to like it; you just have to do it.
* The FBI Urban Tactical Training Facility is preeminent in the world. They are the best of the best. See why in the book.
This is a great read, all 848 pages of it. You start the book and you can't put it down, and in the end isn't that why we read Clancy. We just keep going until we are finished, and when we are finished we are ready for more. That is why he will be missed by so many readers out there. Read it today and see for yourself, and thank you for reading this review.
Having such a late start on the book messes everything up. The first 65% was often boring because I didn't know why I should care about these characters, and I didn't know what the stakes were. Cramming three quarters of the action into the last 35% of the pages also meant that the response, attack and resolution by the good guys was rushed and unsatisfying.
The book also suffered from too many sub-plots which weren't connected to the main story line and were not resolved in the end. Why did we spend so much time on Ryan Senior deciding to run for president again if it didn't affect the resolution? Are we supposed to read Clancy's next book to find out what happens? If so, it's not going to work for this reader.
The characterization is also a problem. Clancy clearly loves and knows these characters well. The problem is that he doesn't spend much effort making us love and know them well.
Another irritant contained in this novel is the notion of "The Campus" and the 100 pardons. Sheer nonsense. When discovered, these things would put Ryan Sr. in jail forever. Plus, the pardon scenario is rubbish: undated or not, the act to which the pardon would apply would surely be after Ryan ceased being President. And the hullabaloo that would ensue when some felon tried to use such a pardon is unimaginable. Nonsense, I tell you.
I have been a Tom Clancy fan since Red October, but he has abused his fans with a series of novels (of which this one is the latest) that are poorly written and tedious to read. Perhaps Clancy is such a big name that editors simply cannot tell him what he needs to do. Too bad. RJB.