on 4 June 1997
So, you wanna be President. You could fix all the problems with the county, couldn't you. Yep, if you just had the chance. Well, here it is Mr. Smarty Pants. Well, it is if you are John Patrick Ryan. "Debt of Honor" left us (Clancy fans) in a large lurch. The President, the Supreme Court, most members of the House, Senate and Cabinet are dead. Jack Ryan, new President of the United States (or, POTUS), formerly new Vice President, has it all to do. Appoint a Supreme Court, not just one or two justices, but all of them. Arrange for the election of representatives and Senators. Maintain national defense while facing increasingly hostile international dilemmas, not to mention deadly domestic ones. All this while trying to stave off a despicable attempt to "grab the throne" by the freshly ousted former Vice President of the United States. Clancy provdes a realistic view of being POTUS. And, shows us that strength of character does, indeed, make a difference. While facing the most challenging and dangerous circumstances since the Revolutionary War, just how does the USA fare? How does she weather a storm of weapons of mass destruction? If you like Clancy's earlier works, then I will guarantee that you will enjoy and approve of the "response of the Uinted States of America".
on 21 July 2007
Having seen both "Patriot Games", and "Clear and Present Danger", I found it easy to imagine Harrison Ford, Karen Archer, and Willem Dafoe reprising their previous roles. Given the critical and box office flop that was "The Sum of All Fears", maybe Hollywood should have tried to adapt this book for the cinema instead.
The circumstances of Ryan's elevation to the presidency were remarkably prescient, given 9/11, and the passage describing Saddam's assassination, and the religious motivation for it, was especially well written, if a little dated. Perhaps Clancy's crystal ball let him down on this one. He takes an almost pornographic interest in military hardware, but you cannot accuse him of not doing his research.
Where the book falls down is that, as the book unfolds, you can never be in any doubt that however much crap is thrown at the US of A, truth, justice, and the American way will always triumph in the end. The idea that someone like Darayei might think "Let's take on the world's biggest superpower, they're bound to take it lying down." is, frankly, laughable.
Overall, a gripping read, and I zapped through it whilst on holiday.
on 25 August 2004
"Executive Orders" is Tom Clancy's follow up to his best selling novel "Debt of Honor" and begins moments after the ending of the previous novel. "Debt of Honor" left the Capitol building destroyed, the President killed, most of Congress killed, and all 9 members of the Supreme Court killed. Most other top officials of the government were also killed in a horrible attack reminiscent of September 11, 2001 (even though the novel was written years before that event). While not intending to be, Tom Clancy was very prophetic in writing about the events that led up to "Executive Orders". Because the Vice President had resigned, Jack Ryan was asked to take his place until the next election. As Vice President, Jack Ryan was not in the building when the attacks took place. Being Vice President was only supposed to be a one-year post and then he would retire from public service. Now with the President dead, Jack Ryan is the new President of the United States. Most Presidents have a Cabinet and Congress and other Senior Officials to help make the transition to power run smoothly. Jack Ryan has to rebuild his government almost from the ground up.
Tom Clancy writes large, sprawling novels. This one is actually a bit longer than most other Clancy novels, coming in at nearly 900 pages (hardcover). There is a lot of storyline to cover. Clancy likes to have the main plotline with several sub-plots that eventually tie in to the main story and also augment what is going on. Only one of these sub-plots felt truly superfluous (that being the Mountain Men sub-plot) as it did not actually add anything to the main plotline nor did it even touch the main story. It was set up early as something large and fizzled out near the end, as if Clancy forgot that he had that sub-plot going and then realized that he didn't have anywhere for it to go. Otherwise, all the storylines fit into the larger story and with all the detail that Clancy provides, the novel doesn't feel as weighty as it would appear to be.
The detail that Tom Clancy provides gives the novel a sense of realism, that perhaps these events are not so implausible as we might have once thought. After September 11 and with threats of bio-terrorism, this novel has gone from being military/political fiction to a grim vision of what may very well occur in our near future. We see the potential for evil in the world and dishonest men in the United States (and abroad). We see the potential for good men and women to step up in government service and to attempt to do the right thing. Clancy shows both sides of the coin, and if Jack Ryan is an overly honest and morally upright character....we must remember that he is the "hero" of the series. He is exactly the kind of man we want this series of books to revolve around.
The bottom line for this novel is that it is well written, and while it may be long winded at times, it was a quick reading novel despite being around 900 pages. The story is compelling and while we know that our hero and our country will come out alright, we don't know what horrific events Clancy will subject Jack Ryan and America to....and that's why we keep reading.
on 9 August 2001
I loved Dept of Honour and really enjoyed the first half of this book. I have enjoyed all of Clancy's books thus far, and enjoyed the political side in this one.
Tom Clancy does have a habit of having too many sub-plots at times, but I guess I'm used to it and quite like it, particularly as it keeps me interested and thinking.
I have to say I really did not enjoy the book for the last 200 pages or so. I found it very slow, and it took me a week to read the last 150 pages (I would normally expect to do all of that in one night, as he normally weaves together the themes brilliantly in the end)
Another annoying feature at the end was the overuse of military jargon. I don't mind it, and enjoyed Red Storm Rising. However, I did feel that tom was using far too many TLAs (three letter acronyms), which made for EVEN slower reading (some of them were not even explained - which was frustrating to someone as ignorant of current military terms as I am)
I guess overall the book is definitely worth a read - I would give the first 800 pages 5 stars. I guess the disappointing last 200 just ruined the experience for me - I won't hurry to read it again because of that.
on 21 February 2015
I really enjoyed this book. It is the longest book I have ever read at 1273 pages. As usual Tom Clancy builds his stories with lots of pages. And while people say "this is too much", or "too many words", or "A good story but it could have been told in less pages" you have to ask, If you are complaining about the length of the book, why would you read it. After all, when you pick up a Tom Clancy book, you know it is going to be a very long book.
I love this book, Lots of tension and build up in the first half to three quarters of the book, and then the action at the end, say from around page 800 onward. Lots of typical Clancy details, which only adds to the long ride.
So far I have been reading Tam Clancy's Ryanverse in Chronological order, and though one or two of these book where written out side that order, you can still read them thus. Not one book I have read has been rubbish, I still have plenty of the Ryanverse to read, but so far I am enjoying it all.
I would like to dedicate the review to Tom Clancy, we have lost a great Author.
on 7 September 2000
This is the third Clancy book I've read, and he remains one of my favorite authors. Better than 'Debt of Honour' but not coming remotly close to the incredible 'Red Storm Rising'. The story is at times gripping - complete page turning stuff...but at other times (when he goes on and on repeating the same tired 'I'm Jack Ryan, it's so gosh-darn hard being president' line). Too much soul-searching...and jeez, isn't America SOOOO wonderful (the final battle is such a let-down...America, all-mighty, waltzes thru, saving the day). Unlike 'Red Storm Rising' where a bit of good-guy ass got kicked. That was brilliant. This was good.
on 9 November 2014
I read this book in the 90s when it was relatively new and I remember quite enjoying it. It was the first and possibly the only terrorist novel I have read and it stuck in my mind, so for that reason I recently read it again, which was spooky with an Ebola epidemic and ISIS in the news - I started it before these news stories came to the fore. Tom Clancy's foresight was pretty amazing. HIs knowledge of all things related to war, from equipment to battle tactics, is also pretty impressive and I'm left really wondering where the lines are between reality and what he makes up in these areas. On the other hand, his portrayal of the president and everything relating to that world is just laughable. He also has a tendency to go off into Republican rants on occasion and there's a lot in here that's not PC these days, even down to small things like having a lot of smoking going on. It was so slow I was praying for the end. It could have been a third of the size or less, but the further I got the more I had vested in getting there so I stuck with it, then said "phwew".
on 20 June 2011
This is one of the better Clancy/Jack Ryan novels, concerned with his coming to grips with an Iran-inspired attack in various forms on America, after he has inadvertently become President. Although there's a lot of improbabilities, it also contains a good deal of fascinating detail about plausible scenarios on bio-warfare and terrorism. As ever the cliff-hanging structure is well arranged and the multiple plot lines handled beautifully (except one, see below). I did skip some of the land/air battle detail in the last 100 or so pages, but others may find that interesting. One noticeable flaw is the backwoodsmen bomb plot which seems to just peter out rather than being an integrated part of the story. The book also totally ignores the contribution which America would probably seek, in the circumstances outlined, from NATO allies. But nonetheless and enjoyable book. The opening part would be more comprehensible to anyone who had read Debt of Honor first as the books are closely linked, more so than others in the Ryan series.
First an admission: I'm not new to this book. Over the past few years I've read it on several occasions and never cease to be impressed by Clancy's ability to fill 1,200 plus pages with a tautly plotted and intelligent thriller.
To be fair, the novel requires some suspension of disbelief, since the motives of the US of A - and its embodiment in the persona of Jack Ryan - are invariably honourable, while it faces an array of foreign enemies bent on, if not global then at least hemispherical, domination.
Clancy's relatively simplistic approach to geopolitics is a minor flaw in an otherwise excellent book that manages to balance the characters and the action so that we 'root' for the good guys throughout. Yes, it's a bit jingoistic and yes, there are a few characters who are stereotypes rather than archetypes, but even if you know the ending - as I do - you can't help but marvel at the masterful plotting.
Definitely my desert-island book.
on 3 August 2007
This book had some of Clancy's characteristic plotting strengths so was fun and engaging, but ultimately it boiled down to Clancy coming up with a way of telling us all of the things he would love to do if he was president. Fair enough, and not badly written either, but not up there with his best.