Farewell to the Masters
Political thriller fans have been dealt another devastating blow with the untimely death of the creator of the modern-day thriller. The recent passing of Tom Clancy brings back the sorrowful memory of Vince Flynn's death last June. Sadly, the soon-to-be-released Command Authority will be the last for thriller readers who have come to expect a yearly Clancy book since 1985 when the famous The Hunt for Red October was first published. For Vince Flynn fans, as October rolls around there is the familiar backdrop of fall, the World Series, and a new Vince Flynn novel being published. Unfortunately there might never be another new novel so this year many of his fans are going through withdrawal.
Flynn gave Clancy a shout-out in 2005 when he noted, "If (Tom) Clancy could do it, why can't I?" They had an aptitude for using fiction to forecast real threats to national security. Both authors have fans that include former presidents, and whose administrations questioned the realism of their content. Clancy told of how a Navy Secretary under President Reagan asked, "Who the hell cleared it?" including details about Soviet submarines, weaponry, satellites, and fighter planes. Vince Flynn commented that President George W. Bush felt his material about the CIA was "a little too accurate," and grilled him on where he received the information.
Flynn is an author who questioned and probed basic assumptions with his hard-hitting CIA characters Mitch Rapp and Irene Kennedy. He once commented to me, "Our government's first priority is the national security of its citizenry. Not whether or not we are liked by a group of intolerant religious zealots. A major theme in all my books is that the CIA is not only the first line of defense, but they should also be the first line of offense. I saw these Jihadists running around in the 80s and 90s screaming 'death to America,' and I thought to myself, we better go kill these guys before they kill us."
One of his best books is Transfer of Power (TOP). Recently, two movies, Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down, freely borrowed the plot lines of this book. Not surprisingly, the movies did not even come close to the storyline and realism of Vince's work. What is even more astounding is that this book, about the threat of Islamic extremists, was written before 9/11, in 1999. In TOP Flynn describes how an Arab terrorist gains entry into the White House because "the White House staff broke with secret service policy and granted a meeting without having time to run a background check." Sound familiar? Just think back to when the Obama administration, ten years after this quote, broke with Secret Service policy and allowed an intruder to enter the White House and attend a state dinner.
Whether predicting future events, or issuing warnings, Flynn's books always seemed to connect the dots. For example in Protect and Defend (2007) he examines Iran's nuclear program, Israel's response to it, and Iranian-U.S. relations. This book begins with a scenario where Israel destroys Iran's underground nuclear capability. It allowed Americans to understand how Israel will stop at nothing to ensure its survival and how the U.S. needs to support its ally. Maybe Prime Minister Netanyahu read this book -- in his recent UN speech he declared, "Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet, in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others."
Clancy also wrote scenes that eventually became reality. For example in Debt of Honor he had a Boeing 747 flown into the U.S. Capitol during a State of the Union address, killing the president, most of the cabinet, Congress, and the Supreme Court.
Clancy wrote more about military technology and tactics and always supported those in uniform. He noted in an interview, "The U.S. Military is us. There is no truer representation of a country than the people that it sends into the field to fight for it. The people who wear our uniform and carry our rifles into combat are our kids, and our job is to support them, because they're protecting us."
In their novels, the reader learned facts, gained insight, and threw political correctness out the window. Anyone upset with the political situation regarding homeland and national security took comfort after finishing a Vince Flynn or Tom Clancy novel.
No one can think of a Vince Flynn book without referring to his political commentary quotes. He told of the terrorists, as they really are, savages, not as portrayed in the mainstream media. Here are just a few examples: In American Assassin (2010) he wrote, "Weakness breeds contempt... I want these guys looking over their shoulders wondering if they're next;" In The Last Man (late 2012) a telling quote, "The Americans were too self-conscious to hunt the Taliban down like the dogs that they were and exterminate them;" in Kill Shot (early 2012), "I want them to lie awake at night and wonder who was after them... Thousands of people the world over lay awake at night in agonizing pain, lamenting the loss of loved ones at the hands of these cowards;" and in The Third Option (2000), "I don't negotiate with terrorists; I kill them."
Clancy also made political statements. For example, when he stated to Bill O' Reilly during a 2001 interview, "The political left, they deal in symbols rather than reality. The general difference between conservatives and liberals is that liberals like pretty pictures and conservatives like to build bridges that people can drive across. And conservatives are indeed conservative because if the bridge falls down then people die, whereas the liberals figure, we can always build a nice memorial and make people forget it ever happened and was our fault. They're very good at making people forget it was their fault."
Any fan of Vince Flynn and Tom Clancy might want to get their fix by going back and reading their favorite books. They died way too young, but their untimely exit will never end the conversation about how to keep America safe, fight the war on terror, support its allies, and the need for America to aggressively pursue its enemies. They were both able to predict what will happen in the future with their visionary plots. They will surely be missed.
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews, author interviews, and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.