LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 33, No.4 - Winter 1987
Editor of this issue: Antanas V. Dundzila
Copyright © 1987 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
Tom Clancy. Red Storm Rising.
New York: G.B. Putnam's Sons, 1986. Hard Cover. Dust jacket. 652 pp. $19.95.
In Lituanus (Vol. 31, No. 3, 1985, pp. 76-77), Victor A. Nakas reviewed Tom Clancy's first novel, The Hunt for Red October. Marko Ramius, the main hero of that novel, is half-Lithuanian.
Approximately two years later, in the summer of 1986, Tom Clancy completed another hefty seller, Red Storm Rising.
One can assume that every English-writing author dreams of producing at least one best-seller. And if this book manages to remain on the best-seller lists for several weeks, or even months, both the author and the publisher are very happy, the commercial success of the book is ensured. Many authors never get onto these lists. Others manage to make them with only one book, but there are a few very successful authors who produce one best-seller after another.
Before his first novel, The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy had never published anything, except for some letters to the editor and a short article about the MX missile. By profession, Tom Clancy is an insurance broker from a small town in Maryland. Suddenly, with his first novel, The Hunt for Red October, he made it to the number one spot on many best-seller lists, including The New York Times and The Washington Post's. His second novel, Red Storm Rising, as of the beginning of 1987, had been on the best-seller lists for several months.
Though not a military man, Tom Clancy seems to be very well acquainted with naval warfare, particularly with submarines. In this second novel, there is a "limited conflict" between the Soviet Union and some of the NATO countries, such as West Germany, the United States, Britain, Norway, and Belgium. Greece and Turkey apparently refuse to participate, and the role of the other allied countries on both sides is not quite clear. This is a "limited conflict" because no nuclear or chemical weapons are used. It's a quaint war: practically no mention of what is happening in the countries occupied by the Soviet Union (such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), practically no word about the Soviet satellites (such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania). Even East Germany is mentioned only in reference to the Soviet headquarters there. It seems that only the ethnic Russians are fighting on one side, and the West Germans, British, Norwegians, Americans, and Belgians on the other.
Certainly, in a work of fiction it's up to the author to choose which aspects he will portray, but it's hard to imagine that Clancy's scenario reflects how the limited conflict would actually develop. And there is another curious twist: in Red Storm Rising the American characters, from the SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander/Europe) down to enlisted men, all have typical Anglo-Saxon names — WASPS, as it were. Only one exception is made: a Nisei woman who is a major in the U.S. Air Force. Again, this is the author's rightful choice, but it was a little different in his first novel.
In spite of these minor discrepancies, Tom Clancy's second novel is clearly a winner in the race for the best-seller lists. It is a very intriguing story, fast moving and exciting. Even with the high-tech military terminology the novel is enjoyable throughout.