Tuesday, 26 March 2013

BOOK: The Sum of All Fears, Tom Clancy (6/10)

Why did I read it?
Another book, another Tom Clancy Jack Ryan story. Book number five of my odyssey through Clancy's Ryan series.

What's it all about?
A nuclear missile lies missing in the Syrian desert for decades until it is discovered by a farmer before ending up in the hands of Arab terrorists, angry that a landmark Holy Land peace deal between Jews, Muslims and Christians and brokered by the US is proving successful. The terrorists recruit East German nuclear experts, themselves angry that world socialism has collapsed, to help customise the warhead for use on American soil. With that emergency approaching, Jack Ryan, now CIA Deputy Director, has to deal with problems at home and a rapidly deteriorating relationship with the current US president and his advisers.

Should you read it?
TSOAF is the longest of Clancy's Jack Ryan books so far, and at over 1000 pages (paperback version) it was a chore to read in parts, and need not have been so. The main event of the book takes place about 600-700 pages in, and the story has been well and truly set by this point. From this point on the book became a real page-turner, as the tension between East and West increased alongside increasing DEFCON levels and Ryan tries to avert the global nuclear war his shellshocked president is leading the US towards.

Clancy being Clancy, couldn't not dedicate a vast number of pages to the details of the nuclear warhead's assembly and the side side story of the submarine USS Maine seemed totally superfluous. All in all it was no wonder the film adaptation was massively streamlined.

TSOAF is probably the most personal Jack Ryan story yet, even more so than Patriot Games, as National Security Advisor Elizabeth Elliott temporarily succeeds in undermining his marriage as well as his position. This storyline is ultimately easily solved but Clancy uses it to highlight the contempt Elliott has for Ryan, which has huge dangerous consequences at the vital moment. The trouble between Ryan and his wife also parallels the escalating strife between East and West, worsening through rash assumptions and easily solved through simple communication.

No comments:

Post a Comment