Killing the Emir

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on December 11, 2010

Perhaps the most frustrating part of Tom Clancy’s last work, “Teeth of the Tiger,” released back in 2003, was the fact that the “Emir” wasn’t dealt with. The Emir, a rough analogue to Osama bin Laden, was the moving force behind the bad guys in the last book, and at the end he was no closer to being captured or killed 500 or so pages later. It almost felt like one of those grand, multi-book fantasy series rather than the typical techno-thriller where a complete story is told.

“Dead or Alive” is a complete story. Following immediately on the heels of “Teeth of the Tiger,” Clancy’s latest focuses heavily on the hunt for the Emir. Jack Ryan Jr. is back, as are his cousins Dom and Brian Caruso. Ding Chavez and John Clark also join “The Campus” after “retiring” from the Rainbow multinational special forces cadre.

The book does include some political commentary as you might come to expect. It’s not overly preachy, but when you compare how “President Kealty” deals with national security to the standard left-liberal-Democratic line in contemporary politics there’s more than a little déjà vu. Clancy takes the law enforcement approach to national security to its logical conclusion and has Kealty’s Justice Department minions wage lawfare on a special forces NCO who killed some terrorists in a cave in Afghanistan while they slept.

That, of course, is the logical conclusion you would come to when you’ve got the left screaming about “war crimes” and it on occasion infuriated me because it is too close to reality.

There’s a scene in the book where Clark is being “invited” to retire by a CIA political appointee whose background is in academia. The political hack talks about how the new administration is moving toward negotiation and talking with their enemies and notes that according to Clark’s file he shot and killed a man in one situation. Clark notes that the man had a gun on him and then thinks, but does not say, that he’d rather the guy had his back to him and was unarmed when he shot him – it’s safer that way. In warfare, trying to be “fair” will get your guys killed.

The book is a page-turner in the mold of previous Clancy classics. The book arrived in the mail Thursday, and I finished it at 1 a.m. this morning. (A hardback is just $0.56 more than the Kindle edition, so if you’re planning on sharing it with friends or family, there’s no reason to get an electronic edition.) I encourage you to pick it up if you haven’t already.


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December 2010



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