Books: Of Arms and the Man

Tom Clancy, the military's minstrel, longs to live the life he writes about

What an exhausting five-year run it has been for backwater insurance agent turned blockbuster novelist Tom Clancy. Forget the four straight best sellers published since 1984 and the 20 million copies sold. Forget the movie version of his first novel, now in production. Forget the $4 million advance for his latest thriller, Clear and Present Danger. Forget such crass calculus of cash- register commerce.

Dwell instead on what this chain-smoking, nearsighted, 42-year-old family man with a hyperactive imagination has boldly orchestrated on the global stage. It would have been enough that he engineered the defection of a Soviet nuclear submarine in...

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