Tom Clancy: Patriot Games Writer Dies At 66
Best-selling US author Tom Clancy, who wrote hi-tech, Cold War thrillers including The Hunt For Red October and Patriot Games, has died aged 66.
Clancy, who died in Baltimore, Maryland, was described as a "master of his craft", a "consummate author" and "one of the most visionary storytellers of our time".
A cause of death has not yet been revealed.
Clancy penned a series of military and spy thrillers including blockbuster 1984 debut The Hunt For Red October, Patriot Games, Clear And Present Danger and The Sum Of All Fears, which were all made into successful Hollywood films.
He has been called the most widely read and influential military novelist of his time, and several of his books featured hero character Jack Ryan, a CIA analyst.
Harrison Ford played Ryan in Patriot Games and Clear And Present Danger while Alec Baldwin was in the role for The Hunt For Red October, alongside Sir Sean Connery as the captain of a Soviet submarine.
Ben Affleck played Ryan in The Sum Of All Fears, and a fifth film featuring Ryan called Shadow One is due for release later this year.
Clancy, who reportedly died in hospital, was born in Baltimore on April 12, 1947.
He went to Loyola College to study physics but then switched to English, admitting later he was not clever enough for the rigours of science.
After graduating in 1969, he married wife Wanda and joined her family's insurance business, while also scribbling down ideas for a novel.
In 1979, Clancy began Patriot Games, in which he invented Jack Ryan.
In 1982, he put it aside and started working on The Hunt For Red October, based on a real incident in November 1979, in which a Soviet missile frigate called the Storozhevoy attempted to defect.
In real life, the ship did not make it, but in Clancy's book the defection was a success.
By a stroke of luck, US President Ronald Reagan got Red October as a Christmas gift and quipped at a dinner that he was losing sleep because he could not put the book down.
Clancy later said those remarks helped put him on the New York Times best-seller list.
The writer had said his dream had been simply to publish a book, hopefully a good one, so that he would be in the Library of Congress catalogue.
He had sold the Hunt for Red October manuscript to the first publisher he tried, the Naval Institute Press, which had never bought original fiction.
The novel led to a string of hits, both on the page and in Hollywood blockbusters, including the 1987 book Patriot Games, made into a film five years later.
Penguin Group USA's executive David Shanks, who was personally involved in the publication of every one of Clancy's books, said: "I'm deeply saddened by Tom's passing.
"He was a consummate author, creating the modern-day thriller, and was one of the most visionary storytellers of our time. I will miss him dearly and he will be missed by tens of millions of readers worldwide."
Tom Weldon, chief executive of Penguin Random House UK, said: "Tom Clancy changed readers' expectations of what a thriller could do.
"He was a master of his craft and it was our privilege to work with him. He will be greatly missed by millions of fans in the UK and around the world."
Ivan Held, president of publisher G.P. Putnam's Sons said: "It was an honour to know Tom Clancy and to work on his fantastic books. He was ahead of the news curve and sometimes frighteningly prescient.
"To publish a Tom Clancy book was a thrill every time. He will be missed by everyone at Putnam and Berkley, and by his fans all over the world."
Clancy even ventured into video games with the best-selling Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent.
Ubisoft Entertainment, a company that Clancy was involved with, said: "We are saddened to learn of Tom Clancy's passing and our condolences go out to his family.
"Tom Clancy was an extraordinary author with a gift for creating detailed, engrossing fictional stories that captivated audiences around the world.
"The teams at Ubisoft, especially at the Red Storm studio, are incredibly grateful to have collaborated with and learned from him, and we are humbled by the opportunity to carry on part of his legacy through our properties that bear his name."
Sandi Mendelson, who worked with Clancy early in his career, told Sky News: "Working with him was just extraordinary.
"It was the beginning of his rise in popularity ... He was incredibly professional and talented ... his writing was extraordinary, the detail, the authenticity, people got lost in his books."