In 1985, a year after the Cold War thriller "The Hunt for Red October" came out, Tom Clancy
was invited to lunch at the White House, where he was questioned by Navy Secretary John Lehman.
Who, the secretary wanted to know, gave Clancy access to all that secret material?
Clancy, the best-selling novelist who died Tuesday in Baltimore at 66, insisted then, and after, that his information was strictly unclassified: books, interviews and papers that were easily accessed. Also, two submarine officers reviewed the final manuscript.
Government officials may have worried how Clancy knew that a Russian submarine spent only around 15 percent of its time at sea or how many SS-N-20 Seahawk missiles it carried.
But his extreme attention to technical detail earned him respect inside the intelligence community and beyond and helped make Clancy the most widely read and influential military novelist of his time, one who seemed to capture a shift in the country's mood away from the CIA misdeeds that came out in the 1970s to the heroic feats of Clancy's most famous creation, CIA analyst Jack Ryan
Several of his novels, including "The Hunt for Red October," ''Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger," were later made into blockbuster movies, with another, Jack Ryan
with Chris Pine
, set for release this Christmas.