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Debt of Honor, by Tom Clancy

Executive Orders, by Tom Clancy

On September 11, 2001, after the initial shock had worn off, a few people (myself included) who were familiar with Clancy's Debt of Honor recalled the incident which occurs at the end of the book: A Japanese airline pilot, distraught and angry over relatives killed in a short-lived conflict between his country and the United States, crashes an empty Boeing 747 into the Capitol building during a Presidential address, killing the President and virtually all of the members of Congress, the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Clancy's hero, Jack Ryan, who had just been confirmed as Vice President, narrowly escapes death and is immediately sworn in as President. Executive Orders picks up right where Debt of Honor leaves off, as a reluctant President Ryan handles both domestic and international crises while rebuilding the government as he and his family adjust to their new roles.

Prior to September 11, it had not occurred to most people that a passenger jet could be used as a weapon of mass murder. But to Tom Clancy it had.

While not exactly prophetic, many of the themes and plotlines of Debt of Honor (1994) and Executive Orders (1996) seem familiar to us. In Debt of Honor, we see in detail the unraveling of the U.S. economy (through an engineered attack on the markets, rather than as a result of sub-prime mortgages and toxic assets). Executive Orders contains a bioterrorism attack on the US, the assassination of the Iraqi dictator, the merger of Iraq and Iran into the United Islamic Republic, and a second Persian Gulf war - complete with embedded journalists. Although some of Clancy's cold war novels now seem a bit stale, these two still seem fresh, even nearly ten years after publication.

I've been reading through all the Jack Ryan novels, in plotline order, but at this point I plan to take a break and read Without Remorse and Rainbow Six, set in the same universe but staring John Clark as the main character. And get some non-fiction reading done.


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