American Sniper – and More!

Out of the Ashes

Tom Clancy’s complex, adrenaline-fueled military novels spawned a new genre of thrillers and made him one of the world’s best-known and best-selling authors. When Clancy died in October of last year, one of the most celebrated authors of our generation no longer walked among us.

Many people had – and continue to have – diverse options about Tom Clancy. However, most agree, above all else, he was prescient about the future of geopolitics, intelligence, military operations and emerging technology and weaponry. In his own words:

I hang my hat on getting as many things right as I can. I’ve made up stuff that’s turned out to be real — that’s the spooky part.

Tom Clancy also left a gift for aspiring writers with words that are as important today as when he said them years ago He said none of his success came easily, and he would remind aspiring writers of that when he spoke to them:

I tell them you learn to write the same way you learn to play golf. You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn’t divinely inspired — it’s hard work.

Read more here:

What Made Tom Clancy So Unique?


Two Re-boots


Last year saw two “reboots” the Tom Clancy Op-Center series and another movie starring Jack Ryan – the fifth movie with “America’s Action Hero.” Both were hits.

There are compelling reasons why this is so. With threats from emerging superpowers, rogue nations and, increasingly, terrorists of all stripes, Americans want to know who will protect them.

Increasingly it is our nation’s special operators. That is why the international action-arm of our re-booted Op-Center series is the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Comprising the most capable special operators from all the U.S. military services, they are the ones most frequently “on that wall” protecting us.

Read more here how “life imitates art”

American Sniper – and More!

How do we feel about our special operations professionals? Most of us want them “on the wall” protecting us from forces that would harm us and our nation.

It is no surprise that the movie American Sniper, based on Chris Kyle’s best-seller has been such a mega-hit. It has resonated with Americans of all stripes.

We’ve come full circle. Recently, Rorke Denver spoke to the issue of why American Sniper has touched so many of us – and he takes on those who would denigrate heroes like Chris Kyle.

We know Rorke Denver as Lieutenant Rorke Engel from the movie Act of Valor and from our Novelization of that movie, Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor. He knows whereof he speaks, having spent years with the SEAL teams, a command position training SEALs, and writing a best-selling book about his experiences.

We have carried this tradition forward in our re-boot of the best-selling Tom Clancy Op-Center series. We honor special operators for what they are – quiet, dedicated professionals.

Here is what we said in the dedication of the first book in the new series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes:

Decades ago, Winston Churchill famously said, “We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.” More contemporaneously, in the 1992 film, A Few Good Men, in the courtroom dialogue, Colonel Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson) responds to an aggressive interrogation by Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) with, “We live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns…Because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.”

This book is dedicated to the selfless men and women – in and out of the military – who toil and sacrifice in obscurity so we may sleep safely at night. They receive no medals or public recognition, and few know of their risks, dedication, and contributions to our security. They endure lengthy – and repeated – deployments away from their families. Yet they stand guard “on the wall” for all of us, silently, professionally, and with no acclaim.

Tom Clancy’s Op-Center

Out of the Ashes

The enormous success of Tom Clancy’s mainline books spurred several series that became part of the Clancy “brand,” among them, Tom Clancy’s Net Force and Tom Clancy’s Op-Center. The Op-Center series included twelve books, all written between 1995 and 2005. For a number of reasons, the series stopped in the mid-2000s.

A decade later we have revived the series. We are dedicated to following the fine Clancy tradition of making these books prescient. Yes, a good plot, compelling characters and all the things a reader must demand from a novel are there. But so is a view of a future. What threats will dominate U.S. security thinking in the future. What will the intelligence communities need to do to uncover threats to American security and prosperity? How will the military and other agencies organize to take on these threats – both internationally and within our borders?

Our first new Op-Center book, Out of the Ashes, has now been out for almost eight months. The first major review of the book, from Publisher’s Weekly, was also prescient. Issued two months before Out of the Ashes release date, suggested the book would do well – and it did – rising quickly on the Publisher’s Weekly and USA Today best-seller lists. Here is the PW review.

Fans of the original Op-Center series created by Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik that ended with Jeff Rovin’s War of Eagles (2005) will welcome this solid continuation from Couch (SEAL Team One) and Galdorisi (Coronado Conspiracy). The original Op-Center, “an information clearinghouse with SWAT capabilities,” fell under the budget ax and was disbanded, but after a horrific series of bombings at four NFL stadiums, U.S. president Wyatt Midkiff decides to dust off the Op-Center file and bring the group back to life. Chase Williams, a retired four-star Navy admiral, agrees to head the new center and hunt down the terrorists responsible for the devastating attack. The trail takes the men and women of the revitalized agency into the Middle East, where they find a new plot aimed at the American homeland. This thriller procedural packs plenty of pulse-raising action. The open ending promises more to come.

See an excerpt here

Clancy Rules!

Out of the Ashes

We don’t know whether our first book of the rebooted Tom Clancy Op-Center series, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes, or our forthcoming book in the series, Clancy’s Op-Center: Into the Fire, will ever be made into feature movies, but Clancy’s work does seem to have a penchant for finding its way to the silver screen.

Obituaries for the late Tom Clancy covered a wide range of information about the author – universally recognized as the best military-technical-thriller writer of his generation. But what every obituary noted – and emphasized – was that Clancy was prescient. He wrote about intelligence, military and technical matters in fiction – and fiction always seemed to have a strange way of becoming fact years later.

With this year’s release of “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” the fifth Clancy movie is now part of our culture. Someone once said, “Never trust a man with two first names,” but that wit obviously was not referring to Jack Ryan, the C.I.A. analyst and reluctant action hero of Tom Clancy’s series of spy novels. The closest thing pop culture may have to an American James Bond, the character has now appeared in five films. It turns out that every era gets a Jack Ryan to fit the times.

Read more here about Jack Ryan films

Mideast Churn


When Dick Couch and I were offered the opportunity to “re-boot” the Tom Clancy Op-Center series we wanted to pick the spot where we knew there would be churn when the book was published – and for some time afterwards. The Middle East was our consensus choice. As we put it in Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes:

The Muslim East and the Christian West have been at war for over a millennium. They are at war today, and that is not likely to change in the near future. As Samuel Huffington would put it, the cultures will continue to clash. In the past, the war has been invasive, as during the time of the Crusades. The Muslims have also been the invaders as the Moors moved north and west into Europe. Regional empires rose and fell through the Middle Ages, and while the Renaissance brought some improvements into the Western world, plagues and corrupt monarchies did more to the detriment of both East and West than they were able to do to each other.

In time, as a century of war engulfed Europe and as those same nations embarked on aggressive colonialism, the East-West struggle was pushed into the background. But it was not extinguished. The rise of nationalism and weapons technology in the nineteenth century gave rise to the modern-day great powers in the West. Yet the East seemed locked in antiquity and internal struggle. The twentieth century and the thirst for oil were to change all that.

The seeds of modern East-West conflict were sown in the nations created by the West as Western nations took it on themselves to draw national boundaries in the Middle East after the First World War. After the Second World War, Pan-Arab nationalism, the establishment of the state of Israel, the Suez crisis, the Lebanese civil war, and the Iranian revolution all kept tensions high between East and West. Then came 9/11. While it was still a Muslim-Christian, East-West issue, the primacy of oil and oil reserves remained a catalyst that never let tensions get too far below the surface.

The events of September 11, 2001, and the invasions that were to follow, redefined and codified this long-running conflict. It was now a global fight, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Yemen to North Africa and into Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and beyond. It was global, nasty, and ongoing. Nine-eleven was pivotal and defining. For the first time in a long time, the East struck at the West, and it was a telling blow.

Surveys taken just after 9/11 showed that some 15 percent of the world’s over 1.5 billion Muslims supported the attack. It was about time we struck back against those arrogant infidels, they said. A significant percentage felt no sympathy for the Americans killed in the attack. Nearly all applauded the daring and audacity of the attackers. And many Arab youth wanted to be like those who had so boldly struck at the West.

But as the world’s foremost authority on the region, Bernard Lewis, put it, the outcome of the struggle in the Middle East is still far from clear. For this reason, we chose the Greater Levant as the epicenter of our story of Op-Center’s reemergence.

As we suggest – this churn will last a long time. And these maps help tell the story:

See these maps here

Looking Into the Future

tom clancy

Obituaries for the late Tom Clancy covered a wide range of information about the author – universally recognized as the best military-technical-thriller writer of his generation. But what every obituary noted – and emphasized – was that Clancy was prescient. He wrote about intelligence, military and technical matters in fiction – and fiction always seemed to have a strange way of becoming fact years later.

When we came up with the high concept for Out of the Ashes back in 2011, one thing we felt strongly was that to stay ahead of the threat the United States needed to create advanced collation architectures and algorithms to process raw data faster than humans could and thus support decision-makers trying to stop the threat before it materialized. If you’ve read book you know precisely what I mean.

Now, Wall Street Journal writer Julia Angwin hits the nail on the head showing how our intelligence agencies are drowning in data. She points out how William Binney, creator of some of the computer code used by the National Security Agency to snoop on Internet traffic around the world, delivered an unusual message to an audience worried that the spy agency knows too much.
It knows so much, he said, that it can’t understand what it has.

“What they are doing is making themselves dysfunctional by taking all this data,” Mr. Binney said at a privacy conference in Switzerland.

The agency is drowning in useless data, which harms its ability to conduct legitimate surveillance, claims Mr. Binney, who rose to the civilian equivalent of a general during more than 30 years at the NSA before retiring in 2001. Analysts are swamped with so much information that they can’t do their jobs effectively, and the enormous stockpile is an irresistible temptation for misuse.
Mr. Binney’s warning has gotten far less attention than legal questions raised by leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the agency’s mass collection of information around the world. Those revelations unleashed a re-examination of the spy agency’s aggressive tactics.

Read more here

ISIS and the New Caliphate


CNA Strategic Studies press just released Reviving the Caliphate: Fad, or the Future? < by Julia McQuaid.

This paper examines the concept of restoring the caliphate in modern times, a notion that some extremist groups have supported in recent years. It focuses on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’s declaration of a caliphate in Iraq and Syria in June 2014 and discusses the potential ramifications of this action on the region, the global jihadi movement, and U.S. interests in the broader Muslim world.

When we created the high Concept for Out of the Ashes several years ago we knew we wanted the focus of the story to be in the Middle East – the Greater Levant. This CNA study confirms the churn we anticipated would persist as the book hit the streets in May of this year.

Out of the Ashes


When we came up with the high concept for Out of the Ashes we did our due diligence and read all we could about the region. A few books stood out as invaluable to our work. One of the key ones was Tom Friedman’s From Beirut to Jerusalem. Here is some of the praise this book has garnered and why it guided our writing:

If you’re only going to read one book on the Middle East, this is it.”—Seymour M. Hersh

One of the most thought-provoking books ever written about the Middle East, From Beirut to Jerusalem remains vital to our understanding of this complex and volatile region of the world. Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman drew upon his ten years of experience reporting from Lebanon and Israel to write this now-classic work of journalism. In a new afterword, he updates his journey with a fresh discussion of the Arab Awakenings and how they are transforming the area, and a new look at relations between Israelis and Palestinians, and Israelis and Israelis. Rich with anecdote, history, analysis, and autobiography, From Beirut to Jerusalem will continue to shape how we see the Middle East for many years to come.

Art Under the Umbrellas


Coronado celebrates “Art under the umbrellas on Saturday August 2, 2014 from 10 AM to 4 PM at Coronado’s Spreckeles Park. Read more about this event here.

The Coronado Council of the Arts has featured my books at several previous events. An article from their recent web post here.

At this event I’ll be talking about several of my books, among them:

  • Leave No Man Behind: The Saga of Combat Search and Rescue
  • Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor – New York Times Best Seller
  • The Kissing Sailor – Amazon and Barnes and Noble Best Seller
  • Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes – Publisher’s Weekly Best Seller

Join us!