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Time and again, Tom Clancy's novels have been praised not only for their big-scale drama and propulsive narrative drive but for their cutting-edge prescience in predicting future events.
In The Bear and the Dragon, the future is very near at hand indeed.
Newly elected in his own right, Jack Ryan has found that being President has gotten no easier: domestic pitfalls await him at every turn; there's a revolution in Liberia; the Asian economy is going down the tubes; and now, in Moscow, someone may have tried to take out the chairman of the SVR--the former KGB--with a rocket-propelled grenade. Things are unstable enough in Russia without high-level assassination, but even more disturbing may be the identities of the potential assassins. Were they political enemies, the Russian Mafia, or disaffected former KGB? Or, Ryan wonders, is something far more dangerous at work here?
Ryan is right. For even while he dispatches his most trusted eyes and ears, including black ops specialist John Clark, to find out the truth of the matter, forces in China are moving ahead with a plan of truly audacious proportions. If they succeed, the world as we know it will never look the same. If they fail...the consequences will be unspeakable.
Blending the exceptional realism and authenticity that are his hallmarks with intricate plotting, razor-sharp suspense, and a remarkable cast of characters, this is Clancy at his best--and there is none better.
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Power is delightful, and absolute power should be absolutely delightful--but not when you're the most powerful man on earth and the place is ticking like a time bomb. Jack Ryan, CIA warrior turned U.S. president, is the man in the hot seat, and in this vast thriller he's up to his nostrils in crazed Asian warlords, Russian thugs, nukes that won't stay put, and authentic, up-to-the-nanosecond technology as complex as the characters' motives are simple. Quick, do you know how to reprogram the software in an Aegis missile seekerhead? Well, if you're Jack Ryan, you'd better find someone who does, or an incoming ballistic may rain fallout on your parade. Bad for reelection prospects. "You know, I don't really like this job very much," Ryan complains to his aide Arnie van Damm, who replies, "Ain't supposed to be fun, Jack."
But you bet The Bear and the Dragon is fun--over 1,000 swift pages' worth. In the opening scene, a hand-launched RPG rocket nearly blows up Russia's intelligence chief in his armored Mercedes, and Ryan's clever spooks report that the guy who got the rocket in his face instead was the hoodlum "Rasputin" Avseyenko, who used to run the KGB's "Sparrow School" of female prostitute spies. Soon after, two apparent assassins are found handcuffed together afloat in St. Petersburg's Neva River, their bloated faces resembling Pokémon toys.
The stakes go higher as the mystery deepens: oil and gold are discovered in huge quantities in Siberia, and the evil Chinese Minister Without Portfolio Zhang Han San gazes northward with lust. The laid-off elite of the Soviet Army figure in the brewing troubles, as do the new generation of Tiananmen Square dissidents, Zhang's wily, Danielle Steel-addicted executive secretary Lian Ming, and Chester Nomuri, a hip, Internet-porn-addicted CIA agent posing in China as a Japanese computer salesman. He e-mails his CIA boss, Mary Pat "the Cowgirl" Foley, that he intends to seduce Ming with Dream Angels perfume and scarlet Victoria's Secret lingerie ordered from the catalog--strictly for God and country, of course. Soon Ming is calling him "Master Sausage" instead of "Comrade," but can anybody master Ming?
The plot is over the top, with devastating subplots erupting all over the globe and lurid characters scaring the wits out of each other every few pages, but Clancy finds time to insert hard-boiled little lessons on the vileness of Communism, the infuriating intrusions of the press on presidential power, the sexual perversions of Mao, the poor quality of Russian pistol silencers ("garbage, cans loaded with steel wool that self-destructed after less than ten shots"), the folly of cutting a man's throat with a knife ("they flop around and make noise when you do that"), and similar topics. Naturally, the book bristles like a battlefield with intriguingly intricate military hardware.
When you've got a Tom Clancy novel in hand, who needs action movies? --Tim AppeloAbout the Author:
Tom Clancy was the author of eighteen #1 New York Times-bestselling novels. His first effort, The Hunt for Red October, sold briskly as a result of rave reviews, then catapulted onto the bestseller list after President Ronald Reagan pronounced it the perfect yarn. Clancy was the undisputed master at blending exceptional realism and authenticity, intricate plotting, and razor-sharp suspense. He died in October 2013.
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