About the Author:
Thomas L. Clancy, the so called Master of techno-military thrillers, was born on the 12th of April 1947 in Baltimore, Maryland / USA. He was educated at the Loyola College in Baltimore. Then he worked as an insurance broker and finally he became a famous novelist.
"The Hunt for Red October" was his first novel, which was published in 1984 and immediately was a bestseller. Other also well-known works followed, e.g. "Red Storm Rising" (1986), "Cardinal of the Kremlin" (1988), "Dept of Honor" (1994) and "Rainbow Six" (1998). Almost each of his books has been a number one bestseller.
"The Hunt for Red October" has also been made into a highly successful film with Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin.
The plot of the novel says:
"Somewhere in the Atlantic, a Soviet sub commander has just made a fateful decision: The "Red October" is heading west. The Americans want her. The Russians want her back. The most incredible chase in history is on..."
Important characters: - Marko Ramius: 1st captain of the "Red October" / widower
- Ivan Putin: 2nd captain of the "Red October" / political officer
- Jack Ryan: CIA agent and analyst
- the President of the USA
- some other CIA members
The Russians invented a new weapon for a nuclear submarine called "Red October" and in December of 1986 they want to test this new weapon, which is a totally new propulsion system.
Marko Ramius, an esteemed sub commander, becomes first captain of this modern sub. Second captain is the political officer Ivan Putin. On the first day Ramius makes something very decisive: He kills Putin because he is against the party in the Soviet Union, although he has been always the best one in all kinds of subjects. But one thing Ramius does not know is that there is a spy, the cook, who reports to Moscow what is happening on the sub.
Four days later while heading westwards Ramius sends a message to Moscow:
"Thank you for your confidence and for the opportunity you have given me with command of this magnificent ship. This is no joke. Marko."
The hunt for "Red October" begins and nearly all Russian subs are heading for the traitor who tries to defect to the US.
Two days after that the CIA agent Jack Ryan, who found out that the Russians have this new propulsion system some days before, is ordered to the President of the USA. There he tells him what has happened and that he thinks that all Russian subs are heading to "Red October" to sink her. The next day he is transferred to an American sub, the "USS Dallas" and later to the "USS Pigeon".
In the meantime, the Russian ambassador Alexeij Arbatov comes to the President and although he denies to know something except that "Red October" is "missing", the President knows what is going on. The President confirmed assistance although he actually wants to have this new sub of the Russian to see her improvement. The plan to get the sub is to help the defectors to get a new life in America and to keep the "Red October" hidden.
In the next days "Red October" tries to be unseen for anyone, but finally she notices that there are two American subs around her. Because of having a leak in the reactor room, "Red October" needs help and gets it from the "USS Pigeon". Ryan and another officer come to "Red October" and nearly the whole crew is saved, but then there is a fight between the spy and Ryan and finally Ryan has to kill the cook.
A day later a message is send to Moscow and it tells that "Red October" is dead, so the Americans can take the Russian sub to examine it.
The last problem is that another Russian sub discovers that "Red October" is still alive and it tries to destroy her, but it fails and in the end, the remaining men on "Red October" are saved and the Russian defectors will get a new life in the USA.
There is not a real interpretation of this book because it is "just" an entertaining story about submarines, the Iron Curtain and the dreams of men.
I think Clancy wanted to show that, although there is a great discrepancy between two political systems, normal "working class" men of these systems, their dreams, their emotions and their attitudes are nearly the same - they all dream of freedom, peace, harmony, a family and a good job. The only difference is that people who are not used to freedom, in this case the Soviets, appreciate it more; for the Americans or the western countries in general it is just a normal thing to be free and to do whatever they like to do and to have a car and nearly every possibility.
The Daily Telegraph said: "The Pentagon almost exploded when the book was published." I can imagine that the Pentagon was not very enthusiastic because there are things mentioned which actually should not get to the public.
In my opinion there are not really any after-effects, only eventually that people got more interested in the so called "sub-genre" and that they had an impression of what life behind the Iron Curtain was like.
Tom Clancy has got his information from a sub driver called Ralph Chatham and a naval aviator called Michael Shelton and some other people involved in naval things or from the US Navy.
The whole story is told by different points of view - the scenery changes very often and I liked that because you get a better insight why things happen, when they happen and whether they really happen.
I have to admit that I was really kind of astonished after finishing the novel. At first I thought: "Oh my goodness! Such a voluminous book and it is about submarines - I won't understand it." But then I noticed that the story is really thrilling and Tom Clancy is just admirable for this novel. One have to have so many information about submarines in general and about things going on there in particular to write such a book.
In the beginning I had some problem to catch the story, also because of the not often used vocabulary. Maybe it would have been easier to see the movie, too, but it might be that there are too many details just not mentioned.
To my mind, one could have shorten the story a bit because I had the impression that the first four hundred pages are only the introduction of the real hunt. But on the other hand if that had happened, there would have been too many information missed and so it was an advantage.
One little, actually unimportant thing I found very interesting: Americans subs are feminine and Russian subs are male. I do not know why this is and why they just do not call a sub "it", but I liked that this detail as mentioned.
I do not think, I would recommend it because it is really some very special stuff and it is hard work to read it, not because of the vocabulary but because of the length of this book.