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My family has always served its country.

I mean that in the most literal sense.  My seven or eight times removed great-grandfather, one Evan Evans, emigrated to Pennsylvania from Wales around 1750 with his with Jenet.  I know almost nothing about them besides their names, but Evan at least must have had more than the standard measure of courage; a quarter century after his arrival in the Colonies, he risked life, property, and honor to fight for the idea of a new country, one where the citizens governed themselves instead of doing what a king who'd never left his island decreed.  Thanks to him the women of my family can join the DAR, and though I never have, my father's great-aunt Kate did exactly that just before the Great War.

There were other citizen soldiers in my family over the years, although I've yet to discover what they did and where they fought.  One at least volunteered to fight for President Polk in Mexico, that little slice of Manifest Destiny that was the proving ground for the Civil War.  I have the muzzle loader he took with him when he enlisted, and if he actually fought with a government-issue rifle instead of the beautiful fowling piece that's been passed down to me, that doesn't make his service any less worthy of respect.  He answered the call when it came, then returned to civilian life as so many other Americans have over the centuries.

A century later, my father was drafted as a sophomore in college.  He was on the small side, so the Army trained him as a quartermaster and sent him to Europe late in  1944.  I have a framed picture of him with his buddies in Avignon, seeing the sights like so many other American boys who went abroad and saw humanity at its most glorious and most brutal as they slogged toward Berlin.  He never spoke of the battlefield, but I know he was under fire at La Croix and St. Nazaire in 1945.

The same goes for my uncle Lou.  I haven't spoken much about Lou in these diaries, which is a pity, for Lou saw more and lived more in his time on this earth than the rest of them put together.  He was a bit of a dandy, to judge by the natty pinstripe suit he wore in a formal portrait taken sometime in the 1930s, with a big nose, startlingly pale blue eyes, and a love of golf that started after the war and continued to the end of his life.  He was the one who always slipped me candy and gum when I came to visit, and to this day I can't look at a Bazooka Joe comic without thinking of him.

For all his kindliness, Lou had a tough streak from childhood.  Short, wiry, and fiery when provoked, Lou was the one who defended Mum against bullies at school and stood up to Betty when she said or did something particularly outrageous, including the Great "Ex-Lax is Chocolate, Martha" Incident when ten year old Betty decided to feed her little sister a whole package of yummy laxatives for a joke.  He wasn't very tall, but he was utterly fearless, and the Army must have seen that when they sent him off to Algeria in 1942.

I haven't yet been able to discover if Lou actually fought under Patton or Mark Clark, since his military history could fit either general's command.  He started out in North Africa (where he caught malaria, lost most of his hair, and sent his brother Charlie a letter that began with "I am in excellent health" around the time that nurses were packing him in ice to bring down the fever), fought his way up the boot of Italy (possibly including the destruction of Monte Casino, although I'm not certain of this), through France, and into Germany itself.  He stayed close to his war buddies, especially his friend Bake, and occasionally told amusing stories about the time that he was chosen to guard a wine cellar in France since he was the token teetotaler in his unit, or how his lieutenant said Lou was the smartest soldier he'd ever seen since he kept his head down, followed orders, and didn't take ridiculous chances.  He turned down three opportunities to attend OCS because, as he put it, "The officers got shot first," and always drove his Buick LeSabre with the same easy confidence he'd learned driving a Jeep for his CO.

For all the funny stories about the wine cellar or turning down promotions, Lou's war had been hard fought and ugly.  The Italians might have tried to surrender but the Germans certainly didn't, and Lou saw more than his share of death, mutilation, and horror.  Worse, his unit had helped liberate the death camps.  Mum told me once that I shouldn't mention the Holocaust around him because Lou had seen the results first-hand, including inmates stoning a collaborator by the fence.  Lou and his buddies had stood by while the tortured turned on their tormenters, and for all that it must have been horrible to see, I doubt he regretted his choice.

Lou's service was what used to be the norm:  he went, he did his duty, came home, and picked up his life.  He didn't boast about what he'd done, rarely spoke of his time overseas, and never gave the slightest sign that war was either glorious or enjoyable.  He didn't join in the conversations when it looked as if my cousin's draft number would come up in the early 1970s (it didn't, although my cousin's two sons are both career noncoms).  What he would have thought of Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Bosnia, or any of the other places where American boys and girls have left their bones in the years since his death, I can't begin to imagine.  I'm pretty sure that he wouldn't have approved of the armchair warriors who've done their best to revive the old lie that dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.  Lou knew better.

I also wonder what Lou would have thought of all the purveyors of military thrillers who portray military life, military hardware, military missions, military jargon, and the sheer wonderfulness of the military from the Pentagon down to KP - oh, that's right, we outsourced that to Halliburton Parris Island with the sort of loving precision that turns adventure fiction into barracks porn.  The worst examples of this genre were written long after Lou had a heart attack on a beautiful fall morning on his favorite golf course, right after hitting a perfect tee shot in front of his old Army buddies Bake and Chick, so he never saw the rise of the military thriller, but I doubt he would have approved.

In particular, Lou was spared the exploits of one Jack Ryan, the brilliant, omnicompetent, all-knowing and all-seeing CIA analyst/politician who first appeared in a submarine novel and has been cropping up periodically to make the world safe for American democracy in ways that would probably send Captain America into cardiac arrest.

Tonight's diary is yet another in my quasi-monthly examination of Authors So Bad They're Good.  I've covered some remarkably terrible writers in this series, including legends like Harry Stephen Keeler, Marie Corelli, and William Topaz McGonagall, and at first glance the following writer might not seem a good fit.  He's clearly no Breadloaf alumnus, but his prose is sturdy and serviceable, his characters are memorable, and his plots are suspenseful and fun.  There isn't much all that much depth, but the early ones in particular are entertaining reads.

And then he hit the bestseller lists, and started hiring ghost writers, and began appearing on talk shows, and....

Arma virumque cano this Saturday night, specifically a gentleman from Maryland named Thomas Leo Clancy. You may have heard of him.

Tom Clancy was born and educated in Baltimore, Maryland.  He married, had a family, and worked in an insurance agency, but his true love was the Navy, especially military technology.  This makes sense considering how close the Naval Academy, its museums, and its archives are to Baltimore, and soon Tom Clancy had learned enough to turn his obsession with things military into a sideline writing about the military technology and history he so loved.

Fortunately for American letters, Clancy managed to sell a couple of short article to the Naval Institute.   The  Institute, a non-profit organization devoted to naval history and heritage, dates back to the 1870s and is respected for publishing Proceedings (the third oldest magazine in the United States), Naval History magazine, and dozens of historical and professional development titles aimed at active duty personnel and military history buffs.  Clancy's fellow contributors include the likes the Walter Cronkite, Theodore Roosevelt, David McCullough, Bob Woodward, and various members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, so he was definitely in good company.  

Soon enough Clancy was writing a novel about a cat-and-mouse game in the North Atlantic involving a defecting Soviet submarine captain, the Soviet fleet subs chasing him, and an American Los Angeles class submarine.  It was a cross between John Le Carre's spy thrillers and Edward L. Beach's splendid submarine novel Run Silent, Run Deep, and Clancy's meticulous research gave it the ring of authenticity that similar military-themed books written by civilians lacked.

Unfortunately, that same attention to detail led to passages that read more as if Clancy had decided to spice up a technical manual by including a spy story.  He had never written fiction before, and unlike Beach, hadn't yet figured out the trick of including the necessary technical information in such a way that wouldn't put the non-military reader to sleep.  Mainstream publishers weren't quite sure what to make of this, and Clancy's manuscript bounced from publisher to publisher, lonely and unloved.

Then he remembered the Naval Institute.  And even though the Naval Institute had never published a novel in its century-plus history, the editors read Clancy's manuscript, liked it, and offered him a contract.

The Hunt for Red October rolled off the presses in 1984.  You may have heard of it.

Despite being midwifed by a historical press with no experience in selling fiction, the book was a sensation.  Ignored by the press when it first appeared, it proved popular among military buffs and the thriller-loving public, and by 1985 it was on the bestseller lists.  The Naval Institute found itself with its very first smash hit, and Tom Clancy was suddenly being courted by mainstream houses like Penguin.  

Other books quickly followed, including such familiar titles as Red Storm Rising, The Sum of All Fears, Patriot Games, The Cardinal of the Kremlin, and Clear and Present Danger.  Many of these books featured a brainy veteran/CIA analyst named Jack Ryan, who proved so popular that Clancy rewarded him with promotion after promotion, both in the intelligence community and the United States government.  And is it any surprise that Hollywood started adapting Clancy's books for film?  So far they've cast three separate actors (Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck, and Harrison, none of whom look a thing like each other, but who cares?) as Jack Ryan, but that hasn't prevented the movies from being popular successes.

So far this could any thriller writer:  throw in gay supporting characters and you have Suzanne Brockmann; throw in ultra-right politics and you have Brad Thor.  So why I am honoring Tom Clancy with his very own diary?

Let me count the ways:

-  Never ending, interminable, and authentic-to-the-point-of-being-unintelligible use of military jargon, to the point that the reader would be advised to keep the glossary bookmarked at all times so as to understand what the devil is going on.  It's almost like fetish porn for military buffs, and trust me when I say I know what I'm talking about.

- Interminable, never ending ghost-written series allegedly plotted or inspired by his books, all of which feature super-espionage agents, teams of super-espionage agents, super-soldiers who are not named Steve Rogers, teams of super-soldiers arms with high-tech weaponry, and terrorist threats all over the world who are jonesing to blow up the American government, American monuments, American technology, American military installations, or just Americans in general.

- Political views that skew from blaming "liberal politicians" for gutting the CIA and thus allowing 9/11 to happen to severe criticism of Donald Rumsfeld to severe criticism of Donald Rumsfeld and a friendship with retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, a four star general who was allegedly floated as a potential running mate for President Obama.  Can't he make up his mind?

- A glorification of such freedom-loving states as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Colombia, pre-Arab Spring Egypt, and Pakistan, coupled with plenty of denunciations of the Soviet Union, North Korea, Syria, China, Iran, Palestine, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, India (?), and Japan (??).  

- Worst of all, though, is this author's best known and greatest creation:  Jack Ryan, stockbroker, millionaire, CIA consultant, instructor at the Naval Academy, National Security Adviser, Vice President, President, loving husband, devoted father, and biggest Marty Stu in contemporary letters.  If this weren't bad enough, Ryan becomes President thanks to a terrorist attack that anticipates 9/11, and though Clancy actually commented on the eerie similarity at the time, please note that Debt of Honor is still in print aut6nd can be downloaded to one's Kindle or Nook in seconds.

- Enough video games, movies, and ancillary products that it's a wonder he hasn't opened Wonderful World of Jack Ryan stores in finer malls across America.

Worst of all, though:  Tom Clancy never served in the military.

That's right.  The creator of Jack Ryan, the originator of the military techno-thriller with more acronyms than vowels, the champion of the armed forces, has never actually put on the uniform.  To his credit, Clancy has said repeatedly that this is the greatest regret of his life; evidently his vision was so poor that he flunked his eye exam, which is certainly not his fault, and far better than all the Republican politicians who had "bad knees" and pilonidal cysts that prevented them from going to 'Nam.  I have no doubt that if Clancy could have served, he would have - but what would have his books looked like then?

As I said above, I have no idea what my uncle Lou would have made of all this.  He rarely talked about his service, and didn't read war thrillers or spy thrillers, and I never really thought to ask.  But I can't help wondering if the reason that Tom Clancy, who couldn't serve, writes about the military is that he couldn't do what my tough, wiry little uncle did.  Could it be that all those super soldiers and super spies, and even Jack Ryan himself, exist today because a nearsighted kid from Baltimore was declared 4-F?

%%%%%

And so, my friends - what do you think?  Am I overanalyzing Tom Clancy?  Giving him too much credit?  Not enough credit?  What are your thoughts on this hot Saturday night?

%%%%%

Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule

DAY TIME (EST/EDT) Series Name Editor(s)
SUN 6:00 PM Young Reader's Pavilion The Book Bear
Sun (hiatus) 9:30 PM SciFi/Fantasy Book Club quarkstomper
Bi-Monthly Sun Midnight Reading Ramblings don mikulecky
MON 8:00 PM Monday Murder Mystery Susan from 29
Mon 11:00 PM My Favorite Books/Authors edrie, MichiganChet
alternate Tuesdays 8:00AM LGBT Literature Texdude50, Dave in Northridge
Tue 10:00 PM Contemporary Fiction Views bookgirl
WED 7:30 AM WAYR? plf515
Wed 8:00 PM Bookflurries Bookchat cfk
THU 8:00 PM Write On! SensibleShoes
alternate Thu 11:00 PM Audiobooks Club SoCaliana
FRI 8:00 AM Books That Changed My Life Diana in NoVa
SAT (fourth each month) 11:00 AM Windy City Bookworm Chitown Kev
Sat 9:00 PM Books So Bad They're Good Ellid

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 06:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tom Clancy wrote neo-con porn (15+ / 0-)

    His books are what they all furiously, sweatily masturbated to as they imagined America to be able to kick the rest of the worlds ass with our amazing 1980s computer technology, gigantic military machines, and strike forces that could go into any country covertly with impunity and kill whoever needed killing, thereby imposing Americas will and chosen governments on anyone we wanted. His books were the blueprint for Bush foreign policy decisions.

    Thank you, Tom Clancy.

    Romney 2012 - ALL GLORY TO THE ROMNO-TOAD (((@-@))) !!!

    by Fordmandalay on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 06:23:46 PM PDT

  •  I actually LIKE a lot of his stuff. I've read (17+ / 0-)

    only through Executive Orders and Rainbow Six.  I think anything past that is a bit too much.

    I absolutely LOVED Red Storm Rising

    The only one I know of that doesn't involve the Jack Ryan story.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 06:51:01 PM PDT

  •  I enjoyed his early work, and when I converted (14+ / 0-)

    most of my library to e-books, I held on to the hardcover editions of them.  Why?  So I wouldn't forget the commitment required in time to read them.  Those suckers are big books!

    When he was in the hospital we got my brother a kindle so he could read The Bear and The Dragon and Dead or Alive.  He was so weak he kept dropping the paperbacks on the floor and had to wait for a nurse to retrieve them for him.  (The kindle case had a hand strap.)

    So, I have both should I ever need a dose of BSGTB on other than a Saturday night.

    "I cannot live without books" -- Thomas Jefferson, 1815

    by Susan Grigsby on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 07:01:54 PM PDT

  •  I haven't read a lot of Clancy (15+ / 0-)

    Hunt for Red October is about the only one I can think of, and not too many details remain. I do remember the bit with a frantic Russian task force in the Atlantic somewhere off the northeast U.S. coast. Kind of a fun moment when they got punked by a flight of A-10 Warthogs from a National Guard unit that had snuck up on them by skimming the waves while their attention was focused on jets coming in from a higher altitude. What the A-10's cannon could do to ships....

    One of those moments that armchair warriors fantasize about: "What if weapon X was employed by Y against Z under such and such conditions? OOOOOOH!"

    Excerpt here. While it skips pages, it gives you a really good sampling of Clancy's style.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 07:46:28 PM PDT

  •  Can't comment (7+ / 0-)

    (except I am anyway, heh) b/c I think I read one of his books once but don't really remember.  Clancy at this point is a cultural meme -- you don't have to have read the exploits of Jack Ryan to know of Jack Ryan and his exploits.

    If you know what I mean.

    To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

    by Youffraita on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 07:47:21 PM PDT

  •  I Liked Red October (10+ / 0-)

    ...Although the subplot with the Congressman being used as a pawn by Soviet spies left a bad taste in my mouth.

    Red Storm Rising was okay, but by the time I read it the Evil Empire had already fallen and it was an Alternate Universe story for me instead of something possible and immediate.

    I haven't read any of Clancy's other books.

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 07:50:05 PM PDT

  •  I have read several of his books, (12+ / 0-)

    the first being Hunt for Red October.  I liked it for the most part, but after that it seemed the quality of his books went downhill.  He maxed out Jack Ryan by making him an accidental President as the result of a terrorist attack that eerily foretold the 9-11 attacks.  

    Maybe I liked some of his stuff because I am a hardware geek myself, and his books were more like a hardware catalog than real fiction novels.  His research is so good, that you know when he writes about some gadget or other, it is either on the shelf already, or is in the R&D stage.  

    I finally burned out on his stuff when Jack Ryan became President.  There was not much else he could do with the character after that, and his plot lines became too fantastic.  The hardware catalog part was still pretty good though.  I enjoy seeing him comment on documentaries on The Military Channel and other programs about weapons development.  The reason for that is he is so knowledgeable, and clearly has a good grasp of what he is talking about.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 08:22:18 PM PDT

  •  Speaking of the Military Channel (12+ / 0-)

    One of my favorite commenters has been Dr Aryeh Nusbacher, who is a professor at Sandhurst, the UK equivalent of West Point.  

    I decided to look up Dr. Nusbacher's biography and was surprised to find that "he" is now Dr. Lynette Nusbacher.  

    Apparently the students at Sandhurst took the gender change in stride and good humor.  After the change, students gave Dr. Nusbacher the nickname, "Mrs. Gunfire," riffing on the movie with a similar name.

    In all fairness, Dr. Nusbacher is a leading authority on guns and gunfire, so the nickname is not at all disrespectful.  

    She has been very busy, headed up the Strategic Horizons Unit in the Cabinet Office, and since 2011 has been director of the strategy think tank Nusbacher Associates.

    She was listed as one of the 100 most influential LGBT people in the United Kingdom by the Independent on Sunday in the newspaper's 2011 Pink List.

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 08:37:08 PM PDT

    •  I wonder if any of our military academies (11+ / 0-)

      would handle a professor as gracefully as The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst handled the case of Dr. Nusbacher's transition.  They had some kind of sensitivity training sessions for faculty and cadets on the matter of transgender while Dr. Nusbacher was in transition.  Apparently her "new identity" was handled almost seamlessly by the Academy.  

      I find the appellation "Mrs. Gunfire" amusing and even endearing, and apparently so does Professor Nusbacher.  

      I just cannot imagine any of our own military academies handling such a personnel issue even remotely like Sandhurst did.  Good for them.

      I have not seen Dr. Nusbacher on the Military or Discovery Channels since the transition.  All the appearances I see these days are still as Dr. Aryeh Nusbacher.  These are interviews several years old.  Makes me wonder if they produce new shows, they will use Dr. Lynette Nusbacher as an expert, or if as transgendered, she is radioactive as an on-screen personality and they drop her.  

      The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

      by Otteray Scribe on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 09:34:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll bet they use someone else in the future (8+ / 0-)

        A transperson, even a world-class expert in her field, doesn't square with the modern image of a warrior.

        What I'd love to see is a gritty, realistic, tragic, blood-and-guts filled novel about the best small unit in ancient Greek military history:  the Sacred Band of Thebes.  These were 300 men who were highly trained, absolutely fearless, and sworn never to retreat.  They've been compared to the Special Forces for their courage, training, and martial spirit.

        And oh, did I mention that those 300 men were actually gay?  That's right:  the Sacred Band was made up exclusively of paired lovers, on the grounds that they would fight more fiercely to avoid shaming themselves in front of someone who knew them so intimately.   Their final stand, against the armies of Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander, reportedly resulted in 100% casualties, with at least 254 of them dying where they stood.

        So much for "gay men are cowards."

    •  Good heavens, didn't know that (9+ / 0-)

      And kudos to the Brits for not freaking out at accepting a transperson.

      Then again, they dropped their equivalent of DADT a long time ago....

    •  Love how the Brits take (4+ / 0-)

      their tolerance -- at least sometimes -- where ours isn't grown-up enough to go yet.

      LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:21:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, I did plow thru most of his books (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita, Aunt Pat, vgranucci

    and got tired of the genre and Clancy in particular.  Rumor had it that he quit the Jack Ryan storyline and focused on the Mr. Clark and Ryan's son stories because his ex-wife got a portion of all future Jack Ryan book sales.

    The last straw was his prequel "Red Rabbit", where Jack Ryan almost saved Pope John Paul II from getting shot.  The dedication page was some sort of Saint Ronnie homage.  

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Sat Jun 30, 2012 at 09:57:34 PM PDT

  •  I liked some of his early books (7+ / 0-)

    — and it's a sign of how much I liked The Hunt for Red October that I went ahead and bought the French translation thereof. (This is one of the highest honors I can bestow on a book, to re-read it in French.)

    I also found several parts of Patriot Games re-readable (OK, I confess, I really like the notion of "Sir John" interacting with a parallel-universe Prince Charles). Red Storm Rising was OK, as was The Cardinal in the Kremlin.

    But I simply haven't been able to deal with his later stuff for many of the same reasons you cited, Ellid — with the exception that I actually kind of like all the military technobabble. This is probably due to my being married to a technogeek.

  •  I liked his early stuff but quit giving him (8+ / 0-)

    any income after reading an interview with Parade magazine where he said that no one who had never earned more than $75,000 per year could consider himself a success.

    So every teacher, firefighter, police officer, social worker -- all failures as human beings, nowhere near as valuable to society as one fancy pants Tom Clancy.

  •  I was at the Pentagon once, back when it (9+ / 0-)

    still had a book store.  Clancy came for a book signing and there were generals waiting in line for a signature.  It was a little freaky.  Generals don't much wait in line, they usually send a flunky to do that for them, but no, they wanted to meet Clancy.

    It did piss me off after 9-11 when somebody claimed not to have contingency plans for terrorists flying planes into buildings, given that I knew they'd all read that damn book -- autographed on the concourse.

    •  Didn't know that (5+ / 0-)

      Makes the sheer negligence that allowed 9/11 to happen even worse.

    •  Debt of Honor needs to be a case study (5+ / 0-)

      IMO in how NOT to respond to this kind of crap. I bet it still ISN'T even now.
      Reckon bin Laden read it? Or got a flunky to, in prep for 11SEP01? Damn thing nearly could've been a handbook.

      Of course, there's Weber's Flag in Exile -- which presciently echoed the Murrah Building with a saboteur's destruction of an epic public structure....on a day schoolkids' field trip brings them to visit. Weber's bad guys can be vile, vile, vile ... nearly to the point of lifelikeness.

      LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

      by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:30:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What "contingency plan" would you have suggested? (0+ / 0-)

      I really doubt that, pre-9/11, anyone would have approved of shooting down airliners full of Citizens in order to avoid a much larger disaster.

      Hind-sight is alway 20/20.  Sometimes even 10/20.

      •  It was a moot point (0+ / 0-)

        The Air Force didn't scramble in time to have warded off or shot down any of the planes except possibly the one in Pennsylvania.

        •  Did we have aircraft on alert for this type... (0+ / 0-)

          of event?  I don't recall that we did.  (For the record, I've been USAF for almost 22 years.)

          Nor do I recall that we had any actually armed.  There was, in fact, an article a year or two ago about two of the pilots sent up, in unarmed aircraft, to intercept.  They made the decision, in flight, to ram, if neccesary.  

          And when did the Air Force get the word that something was wrong?  How much time did it take to figure out what was wrong and get the info through all the required layers?

          Perhaps, if good people were allowed the full range of their Constitutional Rights, even on aircraft, we'd have fewer holes in our skyline, and our history, today.

  •  Hate the Books, Love the Movies (5+ / 0-)

    Clancy's books are those rare animals where the movie treatment actually improves upon the written source.  I remember reading Hunt for Red October in the mid 80s after it had hit the best-seller list and thinking how awful it was.  The characters were two-dimensional card board cut-outs with very little of anything to make them interesting.  What appalled me was how these characters were held up as being "realistic" portrayals of service men and women, as I was in ROTC at the time.  After 24 years of service, I can most certainly assure you that real soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen are far more varied, interesting, and lively than how Mr. Clancy portrayed them! Yet his work remain wildly popular among uniformed personnel.  Go figure.

  •  Clancy ruined the genre for me (7+ / 0-)

    His writing was serviceable enough, but he lead the way for a tsunami of half-baked techno drivel. Worse, he reinvented a literary industrial complex reminiscent of the old Hardy Boys business model that let other mediocre writers off the hook for shamelessly milking their audiences.

    Luckily, his model has mostly been confined to thrillers

    •  Ah yes, factory books (4+ / 0-)

      Most of which aren't all that terrific.  (see James Patterson's endless line of thrillers that are farmed out to other writers).

      •  take a look at some of Dale Brown's novels (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat, vgranucci

        for an Air Force vet's version of the technobabble-rich environment. I love Brown's writing -- I can smell the JP4 and feel the sun reflecting off the ramp when I read him. He gets a little wishful, from the "want that now" revisions to USAF equipment, but he's better grounded in the life than Clancy.

        LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:32:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Something I've noticed (5+ / 0-)

          Writers who've actually served in the military (Sen. Jim Webb, Edward Beach, James Jones, Joe Haldemann, David Drake, Elizabeth Moon) tend to write very differently about soldiers and war than writers who only research it.  Drake in particular is a fine example of someone who writes military SF that doesn't deteriorate into techno battle porn.

  •  Compare Clancy to The Thin Red Line. (8+ / 0-)

    Notice what's missing from Clancy's militaristic fantasies? That's right: real humanity, real suffering. The actual horrific consequences visited upon real live human beings by war.

    James Jones served in the U.S. Army, and was wounded at Guadalcanal. Go ahead and read his brilliant, searing Thin Red Line. It spells out in white hot detail the unbelievable suffering and utter absence of any notions of 'glory' in infantry combat.

    Then compare Tom Clancy's militaristic porngasms. An obsession with military hardware rather than people, steely eyed heroes and dastardly cardboard cut out villains, lots of worthless bureaucrats preventing our heroes from saving the world because they insist on following those pesky laws...

    It's like comparing Shakespeare to Jacqueline Suzanne.

    •  Goes back to what I originally said (5+ / 0-)

      Actual veterans tend not to talk about what they said and did because it's too painful and horrifying.  It's the non-combatants who think it's glorious and wonderful instead of messy, violent, and deadly.

      Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

      •  Which is bad, as it leaves the field to jingoists (5+ / 0-)

        ...like Clancy.

        There is in fact a rich tradition of brilliant realist novels by former soldiers illuminating the horrific reality of war, trying to disabuse civilians of any delusions about glory. But compared to Clancy and his ilk, such books are (not surprisingly) kind of a downer. Not the kind of thing Joe Suburbanite wants to read by the pool in the back yard after bringing home a rack of ribs in his Hummer™ to barbecue on his giant stainless steel gas grill.

        •  And of course the modern Ralph Suburbanite (9+ / 0-)

          likely has never been closer to the military than watching Top Gun a few times.

          Interesting story:

          One of my co-workers is an Army veteran who actually served in the Green Zone a few years ago.   He's smart, efficient, and cheerful, and still carries himself like a military man.  For some reason we got to talking about sleep deprivation during a recent heatwave, and he mentioned that that is one of the things they do in Basic to train you for combat situations or other times when you might have to function on little or no sleep.

          One of his fellow enlistees was a tall, muscular, gung-ho "I am going to join the Special Forces and serve my country, oh yes I will yes SIR Yankee Doodle blah blah blah" type who looked like every Army recruiting poster you've ever seen.  And guess what?  He couldn't take the sleep deprivation, couldn't take the psychological testing and training, and washed out within a few weeks, sobbing uncontrollably because he was so tired and the top sergeants were so meeeean to him.

          You never know....

          And oh, my co-worker?  He'll tell stories like that, but he never, ever mentions what he saw in combat.  Just like my uncle Lou.

      •  I have wondered (7+ / 0-)

        if Robert Heinlein would have been able to write Starship Troopers if he hadn't been medically discharged from the Navy before WWII started.

        (To give him credit, he did try to get back in after Pearl Harbor, but the Navy still thought him unfit for combat)

        The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

        by raboof on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:10:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm willing to give Heinlein a pass on a lot of it (8+ / 0-)

          Simply because he was in the Navy, and he did try to have himself reactivated when war came.   Also, remember that service in the Navy would have been different anyway, since except in actual battle situations the men would have been warm, dry, fed, and relatively comfortable, unlike the average infantry grunt who would have been jonesing for dry socks and a clean bed instead of mud and his best buddy's guts strewn all over the landscape.

          •  The larger issue (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ellid, PavePusher

            was that he served.in the military. During his service the surface navy was just past the age of sail.

            There was a book written the 70's called "From sails to atoms" that detailed the life of the average tar during the early 20th century. It was hardly the life of luxury.

            Heinlein repeatedly addressed the sacrifices of military members 2/2 their service.

            During WWII RAH served as a civilian naval engineer.

            It really doesn't matter what service people served in. There are plenty of opportunities for traumatic exposures...

            •  That's one of the things I like liked (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PavePusher

              in Starship Troopers:  yes, you couldn't vote until you'd done your national service, but it didn't have to be military service.  You could serve as a teacher or a nurse or in the national parks or whatever.  You just had to do something to show that you were willing to pull your weight as a citizen.

              •  Starship troopers/Citizen of the Galaxy (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ellid

                Really embedded the value of national service in my psyche. While I am considerably more nuanced in my thinking today Heinlein certainly had value as someone who makes the reader consider issues of moral philosophy and freedom of choice.

                Heinlein also had his protagonist discuss wearing earrings and jewelry. I am quite certain that the manuscript came back with a blue pencilled "WHAT" in response to that statement.

                Citizen of the galaxy made a powerful argument for fighting against both slavery and oppression. (Note to self-time to reread.)

          •  Not quite so neat & clean. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            raboof

            As is well documented in James Hornfischer's recent book Neptune's Inferno, the U.S. Navy experience at Guadalcanal was simply horrific. There were more U.S. Navy sailors killed in combat than Marines and U.S. Army troops combined at the end of the campaign. Surface combat often meant being blown to bits or burned to death by 8" shell hits, or trapped inside the engine room of a sinking ship to drown. Or, you know, eaten by sharks while awaiting rescue a day after your ship sank. The highest mortality rate in U.S. miltary service in WWII was not actually among combat infantry; it was among submarine crews.

            My father in law was on two separate ships that were both sunk in combat. The first was torpedoed by a U-boat, with more than half surviving. The second exploded after being hit by Japanese shells in a savage night battle. He was one of a handful of survivors out of a crew of hundreds. He died very young, haunted by nightmares he drowned with alcohol.

    •  All quiet on the Western Front (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ellid, Ralphdog

      The movie scared the feces out of me as a 10-11 year old boy. THe novel as an 18 year old was equally horrifying.

  •  I do like one quote from Clancy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan, Aunt Pat, vgranucci

    he said "it wouldn't be hard to sneak a nuclear weapon into the US. Just hide in a suitcase filled with cocaine".

  •  I tried reading Clancy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Aunt Pat, vgranucci

    after watching the movie version of The Hunt for Red October, which I enjoyed.  I had to stop reading after a few pages because I was constantly editing his prose in my head.  It drove me crazy.

    Public policy based upon superstition is never a good idea.

    by gerard w on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:28:34 AM PDT

  •  Achilles Shield on Bruce Wayne (5+ / 0-)

    The genius of the monkeys hammering away randomly on typewriters is that eventually some would discover components of genre and combine them.
    Achilles shield: Aww cool!:
    Every war/action movie now has an arming scene. From "Taxi Driver" to "Electra" to that Christopher Nolan mind tripping movie, all of them have an extended, lingering, fetishizing scene of showing the toys. See such a movie with boys 10-14 years old, and you'll know why the scene is there: "Aww, cool! Wish I had one of those! Oh, man, that is so cool."
    This is scene goes back to Homer giving a whole dang book to describing the armor and arms of Achilles. We find that boring as heck, but we don't fight with swords. I can hear ghosts saying, "Aww, cool! I wish I had one of those!"

    Bruce Wayne: My name is Elmer J. Fudd, millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht.
    The other archetype does not belong with the first one, and it's what you're objecting to. It's what we all object to. The reason, I think, is that it's grafted in from fantasy:
    "I may be fat/bald/young/maladroit, but now I'm Bruce Wayne Bond, man of mystery." This naked wish fulfillment hero belongs to adolescent fiction and pornography (really, porn, not metaphorically porn). The classical authors demanded that Epic (where the arming scenes occurred) had heroes who were Not Like You. These stories have a hero who is You With Extensions.

    Finally, there is a bit of a deus ex machina when you have a hero who is too good up against villains who are too evil with solutions that are too convenient.

    Every reductio ad absurdum will seem like a good idea to some fool or another.

    by The Geogre on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 05:38:07 AM PDT

    •  I rather like the arming scenes (6+ / 0-)

      And I'm a middle aged female.  Then again, seeing hot buff guys exposing their shoulders and upper arms is just what I need to brighten my day.

      •  Yes, but you're looking at the guys (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, Aunt Pat, vgranucci

        The classic arming scene is all about the weapons. Travis Bickle in "Taxi Driver" stands in front of the mirror with his gun draw, and every frustrated male feels fear and joy. Rambo gets the biggest BFK ever, and the camera shows it as lovingly as any body part. In most of these cases, there is also the hero or heroine putting on the special armor which covers the flesh (except Joel Schumacker's Batman, whose suit had nipples).

        In fiction, though, think how commonplace and how long the descriptions of the great horse are, how loving the descriptions of the mighty shield are, how the sword is very special for a page or more. "Awww, cool! Wish I had one of those! I'm going to train betsy, our farm mare to do all that."

        Every reductio ad absurdum will seem like a good idea to some fool or another.

        by The Geogre on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 07:11:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, and to clarify (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat, vgranucci

        I was suggesting that the arming scene is an archetype. Boys will just make the appeal obvious. The appeal is present to both sexes and all genders, though. You can want super weapons and invulnerable armor and invisibility cloaks, too. My point is that this is a unit of the epic and the Romance, and there were rules for its use in other genres, and what makes Clancy so poopy, at least to me, is the particular variety of his rule breaking.

        Every reductio ad absurdum will seem like a good idea to some fool or another.

        by The Geogre on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 07:14:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  ah, have you watched the new Hawaii Five O (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Aunt Pat, vgranucci

        yet, Ellid?

        The new Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) is a case in point there.

        LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:44:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Indeed (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BlackSheep1, Aunt Pat, vgranucci

          I also admit to having a serious crush on Robert Downey Jr's shoulders after seeing the Iron Man movies.  He's just powerful enough to look great in a tank top without being ridiculous, and it's sexy as hell.

          •  O'Loughlin's tattoos don't match McGarrett's (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ellid, Aunt Pat, vgranucci

            but both are apparently more than faintly inked. I like O'Loughlin.

            I wish he'd been in the "Magic Mike" cast, I think. Haven't seen that yet, but I can believe McConaghey as a spy after that movie he made ... kind of a Bond takeoff ... hunting for a Confederate Ironclad a few years back.

            Come to think of it, I'd've loved to see McConaghey in the John Clark role. He's a tad young to be ... oh, say, Zachary Quinto's FIL ... but those two, I think, would be a dynamic duo hard to outscore.

            (McC as Jim Kirk in the 2013 Star Trek sequel?)

            LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 02:52:57 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Do they cover them for TV? (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Aunt Pat, vgranucci, BlackSheep1

              I know that it can be done but I'm not sure how, especially ones on shoulders and upper arms and necks.

              •  in this role, yes, with bigger ones (0+ / 0-)

                the same makeup technique as Pauley Perrette's NCIS character.  If you take notice of McGarrett's (old) battle scars, those are where O'Loughlin's inked but the character isn't.

                LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

                by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 06:15:56 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Interesting solution (0+ / 0-)

                  Especially since so many actors have tattoos these days.  I mean, Angelina Jolie and Robert Downey Jr have them on their upper arms, Alex Pettyfer has them on his arms and torso, Mark Wahlberg has them on his body, Johnny Depp has them on his hands....

  •  Red Storm Rising was my favorite (6+ / 0-)

    Red mostly all of his books. Have about 12 of his books on my iPad.

    While serving on board the USS Constellation, off the gulf of Aden, during the Iranian hostage crises, the ship went into General Quarters.

    Watched as the anti sub helo's took off, followed by a pair of S3-A Vikings outfitted with torpedoes. The Helo's had something and they kept dropping sonar buoy's in the ocean as well as markers. They must have circled that same spot for about three hours. Finally, they were called back and we were secured from General Quarters.

    A Soviet sub had made it under the carrier. Trouble was that now that he was there he could not get out. The buoy's pinged the shit out of him for about three hours. All he could do was sit in one place.

    Watching the Russian send there turbo prop bombers, about the size of a B-52, was a lot of fun. We'd normally place an F-14 TomCat at his nose, another at his tail, an A7-E Corsair on each wing, and an A-6 Prowler under his bombay doors. Suicide mission...

  •  So bad they're bad... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, Aunt Pat, vgranucci

    Great series of diaries!

    I really came to dislike the Ryan stuff, especially after Executive Orders. I gave up halfway. As I recall, every page was filled with rants against those who consider a flat tax unfair, and every Democrat in the book was weak, an alcoholic and secretly gay, which was bad. Oy.

  •  Howdy, cousin. Evan Evans is in my family tree too (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, vgranucci, ER Doc

    my grandmother Edna (nee) Evans was DAR.

  •  Despite all his tech research he was lazy on some (4+ / 0-)

    things.

    One of my favorite examples, from Teeth of the Tiger:

    "Which way is Mecca?" Rafi asked.
    Mustafa had to think about that . . . divining the direct line to Mecca and to the city's centerpiece, the Kaaba stone, the very center of the Islamic universe, to which they directed the Salat, verses from the Holy Koran said five times per day, recited from the knees.
    "That way," he said, pointing southeast, on a line that transected Africa. . . .
    (1) The Kaaba is a building. There is a sacred stone in its wall, but the Kaaba is nevertheless not just the stone.
    (2) Verses from the Qur'an are actually recited while standing up.
    (3) The direct line to Mecca from the northeastern/mid-Atlantic U.S. does not run southeast. In fact, it lies on a great circle pointing northeast.
    (4) If he were truly that concerned, Mustafa would have had a modified compass designed to take the guesswork out of figuring the direction of prayer out.

    The most galling thing is that he could have fixed all of these things in, oh, about 10 minutes or so.

    We don't want our country back, we want our country FORWARD. --Eclectablog

    by Samer on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 10:28:15 AM PDT

  •  My husband gave me Dead or Alive for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ellid, vgranucci

    Christmas.  Ticked me off because of the bait and switch beginning.  You don't hear any more about it until the end of the book and it's basically "To be continued."

    Also really don't like jack Ryan Junior.  He seemed as believable as Doonesbury's Red Rascal and nowhere near as self-aware.

    We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. B. Franklin

    by Observerinvancouver on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 11:13:24 AM PDT

  •  Used to be a fan... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, BaritoneWoman, vgranucci, ER Doc

    I started with Hunt for Red October back in college, well before the movie came out. (Disappointed in the movie, BTW). Loved Red Storm Rising, and was up and down with the others. The Sum of All Fears had me on the edge of my seat with the world brought right to the brink of nuclear war by panic and false assumptions on both sides. When I reread it today, it's still gripping.

    But ... Clancy doesn't write people very well. His strength is in creating really imaginative and highly suspenseful situations (not necessarily plausible, but interesting) and gaming them out. Whenever he tries to get into characters beyond the most basic level necessary to carry the story forward, it falls apart. Seeing him try to write an espionage seduction in The Bear and the Dragon (a story that I loved from the standpoint of plot and suspense) is like watching George Lucas trying to film a love story. Embarrassing to the point of painful.

    Clancy's prose is good enough to tell the story, and it's really good as technical writing -- I loved his nano-second by nano-second explanation of exactly how a nuclear weapon explodes, because that kind of stuff interests me -- but it's not inspired or poetic or anything beyond competent narrative. And sometimes not even that when he gets into characterization and human interaction and stuff like that.

    And yeah ... once Jack Ryan became president, there was really nowhere else to go. So I lost interest a decade or so back. I still have Red Storm Rising and Sum of All Fears on my shelf, though, and reread them on occasion.

    Real-world tangent. Clancy's world view is one of good-guy soldiers who serve their country and bad-guy politicians who start wars out of greed or arrogance or self-serving ideology. During the Bush years, I often wondered how many right-wing Clancy fans would notice that Bush and nearly all of his war cabinet were basically Tom Clancy villains brought to life. From what I could tell, very, very few ever made that connection. (While I haven't looked it up, I imagine Clancy would approve of Obama's use of drones to target specific bad guys -- although in his novels, the intelligence analysts would be so super-accurate at identifying terrorist masterminds and the drones so super-accurate in hitting their targets that almost no civilians would be killed ever.)

  •  The other 2 authors of this genre (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, vgranucci

    are:

    Dale Brown. "Flight of the Old Dog" was a great AF novel. Unfortunately Mr Bown's work has bescended into a parrallel universe.

    Stephen Coontz- Flight of the intruder.

    Both really pretty good reads. UNfortunately both authors have fallen into James Patterson media whore mode.

  •  Don't know the first thing about military jargon.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vgranucci

    but I loved all the books written by Clancy himself. Although I'm not a military buff (understatement!) and didn't understand all the jargon, I was able to figure it out from the context in most cases.

    I don't like Clancy's politics, and there was never any doubt what they were... but he didn't belabor his idealogy enough to make me throw the book across the room, so I just tried to ignore it and enjoy the story.

    However, Dead and Alive changed all that, at least for me. He made no bones about his politics in that one, and his political views were just too in-your-face for me to tolerate. I finished the book, but it was the last Clancy/ghostwritten one I'll read. I'm done with him.

    The 99% believe corporations are not people. The 1% believe the 99% are not people.

    by DixieDishrag on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 02:04:54 PM PDT

    •  At least Jack Ryan isn't President anymore (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aunt Pat, vgranucci, Twoflower

      But man, the idea of the President's private little hit squad makes me very, very queasy.

      •  Ellid: nowadays they're camo'ed up in California (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        vgranucci

        and they fly drone strikes on the other side of the world....I suppose, for some definitions of national defense, it's slightly less messy than, say, deploying a fighter wing, a bomb group, and 2 or 3 infantry / mech battalions.

        LBJ & Lady Bird, Sully Sullenberger, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Ann Richards, Drew Brees: Texas is No Bush League! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 02:57:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Kind of funny how you appear to denigrate military (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vgranucci

    fetishism, while simultaneously apparently asserting that Tom Clancy is somehow inferior to your family members because he never served.

    'Betting against Facebook since 2012'

    by VictorLaszlo on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 02:55:17 PM PDT

  •  Tom Clancy: "Paperback Fighter" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vgranucci, ER Doc

    More than 20 years ago, a contributing editor of The Washington Monthly named Scott Shuger (a former Navy intelligence officer) wrote about Clancy's brand of military fiction.  His criticism of Clancy was scathing.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/...

    He also added:

    I've talked to Tom Clancy once. His publicist put me in touch with him in connection with a magazine article I was doing. It was a pretty natural fit: we're both from Baltimore, both write about the military, and I was once a naval intelligence officer. The conversation was going along fine until Clancy found out that I'm not as enthusiastic about aircraft carriers as he is. He dismissed my point of view as a "liberal shibboleth" and quickly declared the interview over. Tom Clancy doesn't have room for maximum questioning.
    Personally, I've never been a fan of Tom Clancy for military fiction - I prefer James Webb.

    Republicans Suck Like A Hoover

    by BaritoneWoman on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 04:07:55 PM PDT

  •  The one book by Clancy that provoked a little (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ellid, VictorLaszlo, ER Doc

    thought was "Clear and Present Danger" about a military operation launched against the Colombian drug cartels as a rouge operation run entirely out of the White House.  It seems a little anachronistic now but the tension was between whether the Executive Branch had the power to start military operations without Congressional approval or oversight.  In the post 911 US, the entire concept seems a little quaint.

    And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

    by MrJersey on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 07:21:07 PM PDT

  •  My personal favorites as far as military SF are... (0+ / 0-)

    ... David Drake and Keith Laumer.  I know the latter is mostly known for his Retief stories (diplomacy rather than war), but his Bolo stories (Bolos are sentient tanks) are killer.  The first one I read, "Field Test", literally had me bawling at the end of it - OVER A STUPID TANK!  Heck, I still tear up just remembering the story.  Great stuff.

    I read David Drake because his people are so real.  Personal favorite:  Rolling Hot.  The main character is a man, but the character I identified with was "Junebug" Ransom, the female leader of the unit sent to relieve the capital city.  She was "bleeding bughouse-crazy" due to what used to be known as battle fatigue, knew it, and compensated to get the mission done.  I loved her - because she was a soldier AND a woman, not just a guy with tits.  In reading her, I could see myself in her, understand why she was doing these things.  Agh!  Great, great book!  

    (Suggested reading :  Hammer's Slammers, Rolling Hot, Counting the Cost, At Any Price.)

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