At 896 pages, half a million words and nearly four pounds, Clancy's new novel is a bruiser. It packs a whale of a wallop too, starting with a knock-down premise set up in Debt of Honor, which ended with a jetliner crashing into the Capitol, taking out the president, congress, the cabinet and the Supreme Court justices. As the new novel opens, longtime Clancy hero Jack Ryan, named minutes before the crash to the post of V.P., has just been sworn in as chief of state. What's it like to be thrust into the world's hottest hotseat? Clancy has, in effect, written three novels in one here. The first, running about 200 pages, deals with that question in brilliant detail--the crushing of Ryan's personal life as he's sucked into the vortex of presidential duty and scrutiny; the tentative acceptance of ultimate power and responsibility as he realizes he is The Man. Within this scenario, Clancy seeds his other major story lines. Domestic opposition to Ryan--and to his grassroots American values--is stirred up by venal politicos, fat cats and corrupt media types as Ryan tries to rebuild the government along conservative lines. Foreign trouble arises in Iran, meanwhile, which subsumes Iraq and unleashes biological warfare on the U.S., allowing Clancy to toss in a medical thriller-within-a-thriller that holds its own with Cook and Palmer. Like a savvy crooner saving his hit songs for the encore, Clancy waits until his final 150 pages to give readers the stuff that put him on the map: here, strutted in a fury of air, sea and land battles between Yanks and ""rag-heads."" As usual, Clancy offers no moral middle ground, only white hats and black; he also soapboxes mercilessly for a radically right agenda. He's a war-gamer without peer, though, and his plotting here is masterful, as is his strumming of patriotic heartstrings. This is heavyweight entertainment, and come pub date it's going to be the world champion of the bestseller lists. Two million first printing; $800,000 ad/promo; BOMC main selection. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/29/1996 Release date: 08/01/1996 Genre: Fiction
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