Tom Clancy is one of the most well-known thriller authors of our time. His books are known for their intense action and suspense and have been turned into blockbuster movies such as “The Hunt for Red October” and “Clear and Present Danger.” If you’re looking for an edge-of-your-seat read, then check out my list of best Tom Clancy novels.
Who Is Tom Clancy?
Tom Clancy is an outstanding spy novelist and author of forty books to his name. He’s written in both fiction, creating the popular character Jack Ryan, and nonfiction. Clancy was born in 1947, and most of his books are focused on Cold-War espionage.
Summary of the Best Tom Clancy Books
Even if you’re not a fan of the genre, there’s no denying that Tom Clancy is one of the greatest authors of all time. His books are page-turners, and he does a phenomenal job at world-building.
If you’re looking for a good read, I highly recommend these 15 of the best Tom Clancy books. Read the summaries below!
1. The Hunt for Red October
The novel follows a Soviet nuclear submarine as it journeys to America, carrying mysteries that might spark World War Three. The protagonist, Jack Ryan, is an operative of the CIA. He is assigned the duty of preventing this submarine from entering America. Ryan will confront danger at every step to prevent the world from devolving into an even worse horrific conflict.
The novel was adapted into a popular film in 1990. The Hunt for Red October is a thriller novel for people who enjoy thrilling adventures. It is an exhilarating and dramatic read. It will leave readers on the edge of their seats till the absolute climax.
2. Patriot Games
Ryan is hunted in this novel by a terrorist cell consisting of Irishmen after thwarting their attempt on the British Royal Family. Ryan has to once more rely on every one of his expertise and training to eliminate this terrorist organization and protect his family.
Patriot Games is a traditional electrifying, thrilling story packed with action and tension. It is aimed at those who like a suspenseful thriller and are interested in Ryan’s exploits.
3. Clear and Present Danger
It is a novel detailing the drug war and the fight versus the Colombian gangs. The protagonist, Jack Ryan, has been promoted inside his agency and assigned more responsibilities. He is assigned to an operation investigating drug gangs in Colombia, where he immediately discovers the current state of affairs is much more convoluted and hazardous than he anticipated.
This novel is intense, suspenseful, and mysterious, and it provides readers with a view into the realm of politics. Clear and Present Danger is a book for individuals interested in the fight against drugs and the fight with drug gangs/cartels. This novel is action-packed, adventurous, and suspenseful.
If you seek a novel that is action-packed, suspenseful, and filled with socio-political drama, you have come to the right place!
4. Without Remorse
It is a John Kelly-based novel. He was a Vietnam veteran who worked for the Navy Seal back in the day. Currently, he’s become a CIA agent with the secret code name Mr. Clark.
After the death of his wife and girlfriend, who were tragically murdered, he’s finally back in the military as a savior to Vietnam war prisoners. He is a highly skilled agent that always makes sure that he completes his mission, not minding the cost he has to pay. Upon being assigned to a mission by the CIA, John Clark is about to encounter an extremely dangerous mission that will turn out to be the first of its kind.
If you’re looking for thrill and suspense, this book brings that exact feel. The number of fans this book has managed to amass over the years only shows how successful this novel has become.
5. Executive Orders
This book is a 1376 page cracker about all the crisis dealings that the President of the United States had to handle. Terrorists are planning to invade the United States, and the current President Jack Ryan has taken up the mantle of POTUS after the passing of the former President.
In power, Jack Ryan is opposed by many people who don’t mind taking it to any length to overthrow his government. All Jack Ryan is trying to do is avoid an all-out war that will lead to the likely destruction of the world.
In Executive Order, the central focus is the results of the terrorist attack against the American Government and how it affected Jack Ryan, the then Incumbent President of the United States. This Tom Clancy novel is the perfect definition of a political blockbuster that will keep readers in suspense from start to finish.
6. The Sum of All Fears
Once a nuclear weapon makes its way past the American border, all that’s left is to inflict lasting destruction on the United States, one that will be known for ages. However, Jack Ryan is not about to let that happen as he finds a way to stop the impending attack before it happens.
As things begin to unfold, the United States President becomes a stumbling block along the way, and his allegiance is called into question. Can the President be trusted to make the right decision when it counts?
The Sum of All Fears is the perfect book that relates to the state of the military and political matters rocking the foundations of the government. The book is exciting and the perfect example that will help intrigue and enlighten readers.
7. The Cardinal of the Kremlin
In this sequel to The Hunt for Red October, Jack Ryan has to go out of his way to help Cardinal, a top-secret agent and spy for the Soviet Union. Cardinal is at the mercy of the KGB and is scheduled for execution.
Jack Ryan must do whatever it takes to rescue Cardinal from the clutches of the KGB and eventually steal him out of the Soviet Union. However, this mission will be tagged “mission impossible” since the KGB also tracks every step.
This book gives you the perfect picture of what the cold war era looked like back in the day, and you’ll indeed be intrigued and wowed by this action-packed sequel.
8. Rainbow Six
This novel is an action sequel that brings protagonist John Clark and his professional military squad to the limelight. The mission of this squad with John Clark at the helm is to make sure that terrorists are stopped at all costs before they carry out any hideous act of destruction. In Rainbow Six, John Clark and his squad detect the terrorist, but the time for their impending attack is unknown. It is why they must do whatever it takes to ensure the terrorists are stopped at all costs.
When it comes to military operations and actions related to counter-terrorism, Rainbow Six produces an all-out action sequel for readers that love the thrills of war.
9. Debt of Honor
This book revolves around Razio Yamata: A renowned Japanese industrialist who’s known to be part of a small fraction of a very powerful group in the Pacific Rim’s powerhouse. Since his mission is to bring America to ruins and elevate Japan to major world power, it will take a catalyst to get his plans sailing.
However, as his plans become visible, it now becomes evident that the United States is in grave danger owing to an impending attack. With impending chaos on the horizon, only one man is capable of weathering this storm, and that’s Jack Ryan.
10. The Bear and the Dragon
The newly elected president of the United States, Jack Ryan, is finding his role harder than anticipated. There are so many setbacks at every turn.
Some instances are a decline in the Asian economy and a Liberian Revolution. There’s an attempted assassination in Russia, and things get unstable quickly. The people behind the attempted assassination may be renegade KGB agents and the Russian Mafia, as anticipated by Jack Ryan, and he’s right.
Without wasting any further time, Jack Ryan dispatches military expert John Clark and his team to investigate. China, too is planning to take drastic action that will change the world forever. This sequel is perfectly plotted owing to the high level of suspense and a fascinating outline of characters, thanks to Tom Clancy.
11. Red Rabbit
Jack Ryan made history before ascending the role of the President of the United States of America. A historian, former US marine, and teacher are some of his former occupations.
After disastrous combat with IRA splinter factions, Jack Ryan finally falls on the British SIS and CIA’S radar paving the way for Jack Ryan to accept an offer as a freelancer for the CIA. On his first assignment, a top revelation was that Pope John Paul II would be assassinated by a higher up in the Soviet Union known as Yuri Andropov.
Thus began the chess game between the United States and the Soviet Union.
12. The Teeth of the Tiger
In a café in Vienna sits Mohammed as he intends to connect his group of agents with a group of drug traffickers in Colombia. A new FBI agent known as Dominic Caruso solves a crucial case after graduating from Quantico. His brother, a US Marine, is just back from his Afghanistan tour and is a force to reckon with.
After Jack’s many experiences in the field, he’s always prepared. However, real-world danger is impending, and he’s yet to prepare for that.
13. Dead or Alive
Jack Ryan founded a secret Campus for dark ops to counter terrorism. Jack Ryan is no longer President, but he still has ties with his secretly founded black ops operation. It has no ties to the government.
A shocker awaited Jack Ryan when he discovered Jack Ryan Jr is now part of his secret Campus for dark ops due to his urge to become a top agent like his father once was. Meanwhile, the focus is on Emir, a top-level terrorist threat to the world. Former CIA agent John Clark and Colonel Chavez are on the chase to get to Emir and bring him dead or alive.
14. Locked On
Jack Ryan Jr wants to become an agent by all means. He’s working hard and enlisted the help of special forces for private military training. He hopes to raise his rank on the Campus from just a mere analyst to a top field agent.
Meanwhile, Jack Ryan is doing all he can to get re-elected once more. Enemies have arisen against Jack Ryan, and this time they have come up with evidence that gets him involved in a mysterious killing.
John Clark is out of action, and it presents Jack Ryan Jr with the opportunity to step up; now, he must join Dominic Caruso, Ding Chavez, and the entire Campus team to bring a stop to the impending problem in the middle east. A nuclear warhead is in play as a Pakistan General has joined forces with a terrorist to secure warheads that could bring world powers to their knees.
15. Threat Vector
Jack Ryan Jr discovers that his team on the Campus is under surveillance during a mission in Turkey. Now they are compromised.
Things are also not looking good for China as President Ryan just witnessed their leader relinquish power to a blood-thirsty general who is hell-bent on turning the middle east into a crimson river. China is going down, and the United States is under cyber attack.
The President takes action and puts together a covert team from the Campus to extinguish these flames. However, a dark figure is in play monitoring every move of Campus operatives and star agent Jack Ryan Jr. Any mistake from them could be a costly one.
Best Tom Clancy Books Wrap-Up
Tom Clancy is one of the most famous writers in history. He has written more than 30 novels and several nonfiction books, which have been translated into 35 languages worldwide. You can find a list of his 15 best novels below.
- The Hunt for Red October (1984)
- Patriot Games (1987)
- Clear and Present Danger (1989)
- Without Remorse (1993)
- Executive Orders (1996)
- The Sum of All Fears (1991)
- The Cardinal of the Kremlin (1988)
- Rainbow Six (1998)
- Debt of Honor (1994)
- The Bear and the Dragon (2000)
- Red Rabbit (2002)
- The Teeth of the Tiger (2003)
- Dead or Alive (2010)
- Locked On (2011)
- Threat Vector (2012)
I’ve given you a list of the 15 best Tom Clancy books. These include Hunt for Red October, Clear and Present Danger, The Sum of All Fears, and other interesting novels.
Which of these 15 best Tom Clancy books your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
Looking for more book recommendations?
Check out this list of all of the Tom Clancy books in order.