Thomas Leo Clancy, Jr. (April 12, 1947 – October 1, 2013) was an American novelist and video game designer best known for his technically detailed espionage and military-science story lines set during and after the Cold War. Seventeen of his novels were bestsellers, and more than 100 million copies of his books are in print. His name was also used on movie scripts written by ghost writers, nonfiction books on military subjects, and video games. He was a part-owner of the Baltimore Orioles and vice-chairman of their community activities and public affairs committees.
Clancy’s literary career began in 1984 when he sold The Hunt for Red October for $5,000.His works, The Hunt for Red October (1984), Patriot Games (1987), Clear and Present Danger (1989), and The Sum of All Fears (1991), have been turned into commercially successful films. Actors Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and Chris Pine have played Clancy’s most famous fictional character, Jack Ryan; his second-most famous character, John Clark, has been played by actors Willem Dafoe and Liev Schreiber. Clancy died on October 1, 2013, of an undisclosed illness.
1. Stephen Coonts
He received his Navy wings in August, 1969. After completion of fleet replacement training in the A-6 Intruder aircraft, Mr. Coonts reported to Attack Squadron 196 at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. He made two combat cruises aboard USS Enterprise during the final years of the Vietnam War as a member of this squadron.
Today Coonts continues to write, having had seventeen New York Times bestsellers (out of 20 books), and lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with his wife and son.
2. Jack Higgins
Jack Higgins is the pseudonym of Harry Patterson (b. 1929), the New York Times bestselling author of more than seventy thrillers, including The Eagle Has Landed and The Wolf at the Door. His books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide.
Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, Patterson grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. As a child, Patterson was a voracious reader and later credited his passion for reading with fueling his creative drive to be an author. His upbringing in Belfast also exposed him to the political and religious violence that characterized the city at the time. At seven years old, Patterson was caught in gunfire while riding a tram, and later was in a Belfast movie theater when it was bombed. Though he escaped from both attacks unharmed, the turmoil in Northern Ireland would later become a significant influence in his books, many of which prominently feature the Irish Republican Army. After attending grammar school and college in Leeds, England, Patterson joined the British Army and served two years in the Household Cavalry, from 1947 to 1949, stationed along the East German border. He was considered an expert sharpshooter.
Following his military service, Patterson earned a degree in sociology from the London School of Economics, which led to teaching jobs at two English colleges. In 1959, while teaching at James Graham College, Patterson began writing novels, including some under the alias James Graham. As his popularity grew, Patterson left teaching to write full time. With the 1975 publication of the international blockbuster The Eagle Has Landed, which was later made into a movie of the same name starring Michael Caine, Patterson became a regular fixture on bestseller lists. His books draw heavily from history and include prominent figures—such as John Dillinger—and often center around significant events from such conflicts as World War II, the Korean War, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Patterson lives in Jersey, in the Channel Islands.
3. Jim Thompson
Thompson wrote more than thirty novels, the majority of which were original paperback publications by pulp fiction houses, from the late-1940s through mid-1950s. Despite some positive critical notice, notably by Anthony Boucher in the New York Times, he was little-recognized in his lifetime. Only after death did Thompson’s literary stature grow, when in the late 1980s, several novels were re-published in the Black Lizard series of re-discovered crime fiction.
Thompson’s writing culminated in a few of his best-regarded works: The Killer Inside Me, Savage Night, A Hell of a Woman and Pop. 1280. In these works, Thompson turned the derided pulp genre into literature and art, featuring unreliable narrators, odd structure, and surrealism.
Thompson admired Fyodor Dostoevsky and was nicknamed “Dimestore Dostoevsky” by writer Geoffrey O’Brien. Film director Stephen Frears, who directed an adaptation of Thompson’s The Grifters as 1990’s The Grifters, also identified elements of Greek tragedy in his themes.
4. Steve Perry
Perry has written over fifty novels and numerous short stories, which have appeared in various magazines and anthologies. Perry is perhaps best known for the Matador series. He has written books in the Star Wars, Alien and Conan universes. He was a collaborator on all of the Tom Clancy’s Net Force series, seven of which have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list. Two of his novelizations, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire and Men in Black have also been bestsellers. Other writing credits include articles, reviews, and essays, animated teleplays, and some unproduced movie scripts. One of his scripts for Batman: The Animated Series was an Emmy Award nominee for Outstanding Writing.
Perry is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, The Animation Guild, and the Writers Guild of America, West.
5. Robert Ludlum
Robert Ludlum was the author of twenty-seven novels, each one a New York Times bestseller. There are more than 210 million of his books in print, and they have been translated into thirty-two languages. He is the author of The Scarlatti Inheritance, The Chancellor Manuscript, and the Jason Bourne series–The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Bourne Ultimatum–among others. Mr. Ludlum passed away in March, 2001. Ludlum also published books under the pseudonyms Jonathan Ryder and Michael Shepherd.
Some of Ludlum’s novels have been made into films and mini-series, including The Osterman Weekend, The Holcroft Covenant, The Apocalypse Watch, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. A non-Ludlum book supposedly inspired by his unused notes, Covert One: The Hades Factor, has also been made into a mini-series. The Bourne movies, starring Matt Damon in the title role, have been commercially and critically successful (The Bourne Ultimatum won three Academy Awards in 2008), although the story lines depart significantly from the source material.
6. Dale Brown
Dale Brown was born in Buffalo, New York on November 2, 1956. He graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Western European History and received an Air Force commission in 1978. He was a navigator-bombardier in the B-52G Stratofortress heavy bomber and the FB-111A supersonic medium bomber, and is the recipient of several military decorations and awards including the Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Combat Crew Award, and the Marksmanship ribbon.
Dale was also one of the nation’s first Air Force ROTC cadets to qualify for and complete the grueling three-week U.S. Army Airborne Infantry paratrooper training course.
Dale is a director and volunteer pilot for AirLifeLine, a non-profit national charitable medical transportation organization who fly needy persons free of charge to receive treatment. He also supports a number of organizations to support and promote law enforcement and reading.
Dale Brown is a member of The Writers Guild and a Life Member of the Air Force Association and U.S. Naval Institute. He is a multi-engine and instrument-rated private pilot and can often be found in the skies all across the United States, piloting his own plane. On the ground, Dale enjoys tennis, skiing, scuba diving, and hockey. Dale, his wife Diane, and son Hunter live near the shores of Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
Larry Bond is the author of several bestselling military thrillers, including Crash Dive,Cold Choices, Dangerous Ground, Red Phoenix and the Larry Bond’s First Team and Larry Bond’s Red Dragon Rising series. He was a naval officer for six years, serving four on a destroyer and two on shore duty in the Washington DC area. He’s also worked as a warfare analyst and antisubmarine technology expert, and he now writes and designs computer games, including Harpoon and Command at Sea. He makes his home in Springfield, Virginia.