Weston Keenan’s Letter Essay #3: Patriot Games

Letter Essay #3

Recently, I have been reading Patriot Games, a 787-page historical fiction book by Tom Clancy, a past insurance broker, with a passion for naval history-turned author.  Patriot Games was published in 1987, as the second novel written by Tom Clancy.  This book is widely popular and the New York Times said the following about Patriot Games: “A novel that crackles!”  Not only that, but in 1992, there was a movie made based off of the book.  I read this book because it was recommended to me by my father.  He has great taste in books and said, “You have to read this book.”  This novel is so intriguing due to the fact of constant action and suspense.

In the book, Patriot Games, Jack Ryan (the main character) wanted to meet his family that was going on vacation in London.  But, as he met his family on the Green, a terrorist attack occurred on the street behind him.  So, he took action and (with the help from his training in the marines) disabled one of the attackers, and killed another.  By this time, police and the Palace guards had arrived.  They took the terrorist into custody and got Ryan to the hospital, reassuring his horrified wife and daughter that Jack will be okay.  Meanwhile, the ULA (a terrorist group from Northern Ireland) wants Northern Ireland to be separate from Great Britain and cause terror, but Jack Ryan foiled their plan to capture the “Royal Family”. This causes the ULA to want to go after Jack.  Though Jack saved one family, now he has put his own in danger.  Will he survive?

Jack Ryan

While reading this book, I liked the way the author incorporated lots of action.  “The other gunman’s AK was lying on the street and he was firing into the car with his own pistol, something else in his other hand. Ryan took a deep breath and stepped from behind the Rolls, leveling his automatic at the man’s chest. The other gunman turned his head first, then swiveled off-balance to bring his own gun around. Both men fired at the same instant. Ryan felt a fiery thump in his left shoulder and saw his own round take the man in the chest. The 9mm slug knocked the man backward as though from a hard punch. Ryan brought his own pistol down from recoil and squeezed off another round. The second bullet caught the man under the chin and exploded out the back of his head in a wet, pink cloud. Like a puppet with severed strings, the gunman fell to the pavement without a twitch. Ryan kept his pistol centered on the man’s chest until he saw what had happened to his head (p.8).”  As I read this part, it was as if I were at the terror scene with Jack.  I could imagine the intensity of the situation and I could picture the entire scene.  I think the action is this book is what makes it so interesting.  Tom Clancy does this in all of his books and that’s what makes them great.

On thing I understood  with while reading this book is why Jack Ryan kept saying and thinking that stopping the terrorists was a bad idea.  It read on page 18, “What the heck was I thinking about?”  At first, I was also thinking the same thing, but I started to realize that it was pure instinct and his analytic mind that made him go into the line of fire.  But, now he has to worry about him and his family being attacked.  Clearly Tom Clancy wanted to create a controversy, seeing that if Jack had done nothing, the “Royal Family” would have died.

This book reminded me of The Hunt for Red October, also by Tom Clancy.  Both books have lots of action and description that make them very good.  The author gives enough information so that we can follow the plot and know what is going on.  I would definitely recommend any book written by Clancy.

Finally, I was interested in the passage when Jack Ryan is in the court in London, facing off against the terrorist, Sean Miller.  “Miller was sitting in a straight-back wooden chair, his arms crossed in front of him, and head cocked slightly to the left. A smile started to take shape at one corner of his mouth. It didn’t go very far, and wasn’t supposed to. It was a smile for Ryan alone . . . or maybe not me alone. Jack realized. Sean Miller’s gray eyes didn’t blink—he must have practiced that—as they bored in on him from thirty feet away. Ryan returned the stare, careful to keep his face without expression, and while the court reporter finished up his transcription of Jack’s testimony, and the visitors in the overhead gallery shared whispered observations, Ryan and Miller were all alone, testing each other’s wills. What’s behind those eyes? Jack wondered again. No weakling, to be sure. This was a game—Miller’s game that he’d practiced before, Ryan thought with certainty. There was strength in there, like something one might encounter in a predatory animal. But there was nothing to mute the strength. There was none of the softness of morality or conscience, only strength and will (p.170).”

What I think was interesting in this passage is how the author was able to make the writing sound like it was Jack Ryan thinking in his head.  I think that this makes the story very realistic and have a unique point of view.  This passage also helped me understand what Ryan thought about certain people and how he judges people. This helps me predict Ryan’s actions in this book and other Tom Clancy books.  This book is a great piece of literature, and I think that all Tom Clancy fans and everyone should read this.  I rate it 9 out of 10 because it is one of my favorite books of all-time.


Weston Keenan

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1 thought on “Weston Keenan’s Letter Essay #3: Patriot Games

  1. Great blog post, Weston. It’s been years since I’ve read a Tom Clancy book; my father loves them as well. Maybe I should read one soon.

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