Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

"Being a victim is more palatable than having to recognize the intrinsic contradictions of one's own governing philosophy."

The Hunt for Red October is a military Technothriller dealing with tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. It is the first of thirteen novels centering around the main character of Jack Ryan.  The novel opens with Marko Ramius, a submarine commander in the Soviet Navy.  Ramius has had enough of Soviet politics and plans to defect to the United States with his officers aboard the Red October, a nuclear Russian submarine.  Meanwhile, Jack Ryan, a analyst for the CIA, travels to Virginia to deliver classified photographs of the submarine.  After receiving information from various other ships, Ryan quickly figures out Ramius’s plan and he finds himself caught up in an International chase to keep the Red October from the Soviet fleet.  After convincing the military of the situation, he boards the submarine with a British officer named Owen Williams.  Ramius fakes a malfunction of the submarine’s reactor in order to allow the crew to be rescued by the United States Navy.  He and his officers remain behind while a different submarine is blown up to make it look like the Red October was destroyed.  Many of the Soviets are convinced of this, but Igor Loginov, a cook and spy on the Red October is aware of Ramius’s plan and tries to blow up the ship.  Ryan ends up having to kill Loginov to stop him after Ramius and Williams are severely wounded.  Just when the danger is believed to be over, Captain Viktor Tupolev, a former student of Ramius, recognizes the he Red October and discovers that it was not the submarine that they thought to have been destroyed.  Tupolev’s submarine is eventually destroyed and the Red October arrives safely in Virginia.  Ramius and his crew are taken by the CIA to begin their new lives in American and Ryan flies back to his home in London.

Not being very familiar with the Thriller genre, it took me awhile to select a book.  I wanted to read something that I normally wouldn’t have picked up on my own and Tom Clancy has always been an author that I’ve heard a lot about but haven’t read myself.  Before his death in 2013, I remember his books always being on the top of the bestseller lists.  I chose to read The Hunt for Red October not only because it was the first of Clancy’s books written about Jack Ryan, but also for it’s reputation for it’s accuracy of military submarines and warfare.  

This book was hard for me to get through.  I tend to read books that have a lot of background information and character development and The Hunt for Red October was mostly based on action, as most Thrillers are.  It also included a lot of details that I wasn’t really interested in about submarines and the United States and Soviet military history.  The author frequently went back and forth between different characters and ships during much of the novel.  This did a great job of keeping the action going, but it left me having trouble keeping all of the plot lines and characters straight.  I’m a very visual learner so I kept having to take notes and draw diagrams to make sure I knew what was happening.  The book was very descriptive of military warfare and seemed to be very well-researched.  Even though I didn’t really enjoy reading it, I appreciated the novel for these aspects and would recommend the book to someone who likes reading thrillers or is interested in military history.

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