I recently finished reading Executive Orders, by Tom Clancy.
This was the longest book I’ve read in a while, at approximately 1,400 pages. It covered a lot of time and a lot of ground. It took me a while to really get into it, because it started off a bit dry. I can’t really say it started slow, because the very beginning of the book (or rather, the very end of the previous book in the series, which flows directly into this one) deals with a massive event, but the first few chapters, which deal with the fallout of that event, didn’t really grip me right away. I read a bunch of the book, then put it down for a while, but when I eventually picked it back up and read a bit further in, the politics and the spy drama began to get my attention.
I like that Clancy paints a world of politics and foreign policy that feels believably complex and realistic. Not having been inside the White House during international crises, I can’t really speak to the actual authenticity of the way Clancy writes it, but I’m definitely able to suspend my disbelief with Clancy’s writing. It doesn’t feel like a dramatized, simplified, dumbed-down narrative. He draws together a broad variety of factors and weaves them into an escalating series of events that feel like what happens in real life, where unforeseen circumstances interact in unpredictable ways.
It’s obvious, and always has been, that Tom Clancy is a conservative, and he writes his politics, economics, and international affairs accordingly. He provides right-wing solutions to a host of problems, and in his world, they tend to work. I’ve heard this pointed out as a criticism, and I don’t think that’s fair. Everyone writes from their own perspective. It’s only fair to grant Clancy his own angle on things, whether you agree with his approach or not.
All told, I wouldn’t necessarily say this was my favourite Clancy novel, but it’s one of the most diverse and ambitious ones I’ve read so far. Its mix of politics, terrorism, spy drama, and warfare won’t be for everyone, especially at over 1,400 pages, but it’s a worthwhile read, in my books. (Ha.)
I went back and forth between reading A Tale of Two Cities or Les Miserables next, but I’ve decided to go with Les Mis. It’s long, and some of it, I’m sure, will be a bit of a slog, but it’s been on my shelf waiting for me for a long time, and I have to get it done. Hopefully it won’t take me more than a few months.