You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

Editorials

editorial

In Tom Clancy, the culture wars met suspense novels

Some unfortunate authors, whose critical acclaim exceeds their book sales, get pigeonholed as “writer’s writers.” Then there’s Tom Clancy. The author of 17 bestsellers, who died at age 66 on Tuesday, scoffed at any literary fancy. A former insurance salesman, Clancy’s self-professed goal was to be read, and to make money; he was the ultimate accountant’s writer.

Clancy’s thrillers sold millions, and his strengths as a storyteller are undeniable. Books like “The Hunt for Red October” and “Patriot Games” went on to become hit movies, making Clancy a household name in the 1980s and ’90s. Then again, his books reflected, and in some ways exacerbated, the cultural polarization of that era and the current one. His books glorified square-jawed military men, while sometimes indulging in caricatures of unpatriotic critics. That prep-school educated peace activist? Inevitably, a Russian spy.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week