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Your thoughts on "Executive Orders" by Tom Clancy?

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  • 2 weeks later...
I read it when I was in high school, about 2 years before the September 11 attacks. I thought it was a good read then. It's been a while since I read it, and I wasn't a very critical reader then, but it was at least good for a high school student. I might read it again someday.

Do I have to read "Debt of Honor" before it?

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  • 2 weeks later...
Do I have to read "Debt of Honor" before it?

No, the book is pretty much self-contained. It is not a very challenging read (it's a thriller) but very exciting nonetheless. It is also a little educational in that it parallels some of the current events in the world. I highly recommend it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I actually read "Debt of Honor" afterwards.

My experience with Clancy books is that you can generally pick up any book and read it, and not have to worry about the other 12 in the series. Reading "Debt of Honor" before it would help set the stage a little for "Executive Orders", but then you'd have to read whatever was before "Debt of Honor", and what was before that, etc.

You can jump right in and be fine.

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  • 2 years later...

I got as far as "Rainbow Six" before I had my fill of Mr. Clancy.

As regards reading order, it depends onw aht you like or not. All his books are self-contained stories, but they're all also related (except "Red Storm Rising"). That is, they're set in the same literary universe, and cover several years fo Jack Ryan' and John(?) Clark's lives. Therefore past events are referred to from time to time in other books. But knowing about them isn't necessary.

In fact, Clancy's first book was "The Hunt For Red October." In it he made references to a prequel book he wrote later on. I do give him an A+ fro continuity; even several background characters recurr in his books (notably Secret Service, CIA and FBI agents).

"Executive Orders" is the only direct sequel I've read. It begins exactly where "Debt of Honor" ended. Even so, it's not really necessary to read "Debt," as the events in the previous book have little influence over the meat of the story (aside from setting the stage for it, that is).

As for the book itself, "Executive Orders" affords Clancy to present his politics in full, not that they weren't clear before, but he goes into much more detail and he includes domsetic politics as well. A fair assesment would be "moderate religious right-wing libertarian," to use the conventional tags. Mostly he restricts government to its proper roles, but he allows it to enforce some religious-right morality. He's for keeping drugs illegal, for example. But while he's against abortion, he has his alter-ego Jack Ryan say Roe v Wade is the law of the land.

Ryan is not a politician, but he finds himself president of the US (literally!). He strikes me as a precise man who states his position with great clarity,c ontradictions adn all, eschewing the media's political lingo.

He does better on foreign policies. Ryan is out to unapologetically defend America's interests the best way he can. When war becomes necessary, he undertakes it ruthlessly and, more important, righteously, all the while pursuing victory. Near the end he issues an ultimatum where he threatens to use an atomic bomb if the foe should not comply. I simply cannot imagine a mdoern politician having the will to make such threats even if he thinks they're necessary.

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  • 1 month later...

I read "Executive Orders" several years ago, before I considered myself an Objectivist and before I had read (or heard of) Ayn Rand. I think I will re-read the novel at some point to see what I think of it now.

I greatly enjoyed the novel. Apart from the somewhat forced plotlines in previous novels that brought Jack Ryan inexorably closer to a presidency he does not seek, it is ultimately a decent thriller about a man fighting for his values. The Middle East war that breaks out in the novel is plausible and believable. Though Jack Ryan is best described as a somewhat libertarian conservative, his actions in defense of America are admirable, even heroic. There are some good passages early on in the novel that fall into political junkie territory, where he appoints a brilliant Wall Street investment banker to tackle America's byzantine and irrational tax laws.

Of course, the best parts are where American forces send great numbers of Iranian troops to meet Allah in explosive battles. What's not to love here?

"Executive Orders" does fall a bit flat later on, buying in to some aspects of political correctness and a large dose of Just War Theory. I don't want to post any spoilers here for those that haven't read "Executive Orders." It is valuable for any Objectivists who read Clancy's novel to follow it up with a read of Yaron Brook's and Alex Epstein's superb essay "Just War Theory vs. American Self Defense." This essay is available to all at The Objective Standard.

Though "Executive Orders" can be read on its own, I would suggest reading "Debt of Honor" before it to get the most out of the backstory.

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