Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor — What readers had to say

What does it take for a book to capture the public’s imagination?  I takes, of course, a good (really, a compelling) high concept story, it takes an interesting and believable plot, and it takes characters – good and bad – whom the reader sees as real people – not stick-figure caricatures.  Based on the compelling weight of evidence in reviews and especially in reader’s comments (more on that in a moment) Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor met that mark.

But realistically, that will help a book do well, but not spectacularly well.  For that, there needs to be something special, and in this case it was the Bandito Brothers/ Relativity Media movie Act of Valor, that has been on the movie box office hits list for a full six weeks and which has grossed over $62M in only its first four weeks after release, smashing pundits’ predictions about how well this unique movie would do.

Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor has been published for three months and spent most of the first quarter of this year on the New York Times mass market paperback best-seller list.  While most novelizations are “carried” by the movie, i.e. once a movie is a hit people also become interested in the novelization, Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor broke out on New York Times mass market paperback best-seller list the week it was released (six weeks prior to the movie’s release) and remained there for eight weeks, rising as high as #4 on the list (as well as #4 on the Publisher’s Weekly best-seller list).  The book is still selling well, its end-of-quarter statistics show 440,000 copies in print and the book is already into its fifth printing.

But it’s what the book did that the movie (nor any movie) couldn’t do that has carved a unique niche for Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor.  Here is the way readers on various book sites have put it, beginning with a review by best-selling military thriller writer Larry Bond:

–          Actually, it should be “Acts of Valor,” since the SEAL heroes of the book engage in several operations, any one of which could have served as the climax of an action thriller. But this is no ordinary book. It’s a novelization of the Kurt Johnstad screenplay of a film that started out as a documentary and morphed into a feature film. Since the movie isn’t out yet, I can’t say if or where the authors diverged from the movie’s dialog or storyline, but I hope that the movie is as exciting and authentic as the book.

Those are the two words that best describe Act of Valor. It’s exciting because it pits a lot of really interesting good guys (the SEALs and their friends) against some very nasty narco-thugs and terrorists. The action ranges from Costa Rica to Somalia to the Pacific Ocean, and as hairy as it gets, the danger they face is nothing compared to the danger they’re trying to prevent. There are lots of fights, and lot of good story between the fights.

It’s authentic because not only do we see the SEALs with their wet suits and M4 rifles, but we see them before deployment, as family men. The authors create complete, realistic characters, who have decided to take on the most challenging duty in the armed forces. At the same time it’s showing us the tremendous demands SEAL duty and missions place on these men, it shows us what kind of men are capable of performing them.

Dick Couch and George Galdorisi are the perfect choice to write the novelization. Both are retired Navy captains and accomplished writers. Couch was a SEAL himself, serving in Vietnam, and Galdorisi a naval aviator. Both have been active in the government since leaving the service.

And while the story in Act of Valor is fiction, thanks to the news we know there are other stories out there that are not. Even if you’re planning to see the movie, buy the book.


–          Picked this book up and finished it within 2 days. Clancy really benefits this time from George Galdorisi and Dick Couch’s service in the military, and it shows. Couch was a top SEAL himself, and Galdorisi (an accomplished author and great writer in his own right) clearly spent a ton of time with SEALs during his storied military career. The little details that Crouch and Galdorisi provide make this story very believable and lend the storyline a lot of credence. The subtle facts here make this Clancy’s best.

A lot of military novels have a James Bond-esque air of unbelievability about them, which makes for nice fluff reading on a plane but not for real-life subject matter and stories. Not so this one– the reader can see how this storyline could unfold at any time. In fact, it probably already has, many times. The biggest beef that I have with Act of Valor is that we will never know just how close this ‘novel’ is to the truth!

Pick this up — for your family, your friends, male or female, young or old, blue-stater or red-stater, it doesn’t matter. Everyone who reads it will be as enthralled as I was. Spend some time thinking about what our military brethren go through (even in peacetime), and buy one of them a beer next time you see them in uniform. This book is awesome, and I don’t read a whole lot of books like this one. I look forward to seeing many more collaborative novels between these three fine authors.


–          I purchased this book 3 days ago and have just finished reading it – for the SECOND time! Clancy’s books are usually fantastic but this one, coming on the heals of the Navy Seals mission to eliminate OBL, takes his novels to another level. This book sounds and reads so real about what is going on right now with America’s southern border and extending into Central and South America. I understand that the movie is to be released in February and starring real USN SpecOps Personnel – I hope it is half as good as the book as I am sure it will be. As for Clancy and his knack of getting ‘things’ right – look to the South, America – this is where the war is going to come from.


–          Act of Valor was fantastic!! I am an avid Clancy reader and this is one of the best. It is written with intensity and I couldn’t put it down. Being the daughter of a career naval officer, I found this book to be very accurate and an excellent insight to the life of a SEAL. I highly suggest this book to anyone who likes Clancy or military books. Perfect prelude for the movie!!!

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