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Tom Clancy Was A Hack

October 17, 2014

Yes, I know he’s dead. . .and I’m still mad at him.

I wasn’t always mad at him. In fact, I was a huge Tom Clancy fan. I was so much a fan that I couldn’t wait for the next book in the Jack Ryan franchise. I would go out and buy the hardback versions. When they first came out. I was dropping $25 dollars a copy. And I really enjoyed them. I had

The Hunt for Red October
Red Storm Rising
Patriot Games
The Cardinal of the Kremlin
Clear and Present Danger
The Sum of All Fears
Without Remorse
Debt of Honor

And then I ran into Tom Clancy’s Op Center. And that book made me disgusted. So much so that I gave away my Tom Clancy library and I vowed never to buy another Tom Clancy novel.

There were hints early on that something wasn’t right with Clancy’s career. I dismissed it as rumor or sour grapes. But, the information I was getting was from some very reliable sources. My friend Rich operated a computer bulletin board system in the Maryland area. Clancy was an insurance salesman in the Baltimore, MD area while he was writing his submarine thriller, The Hunt For Red October.

The story is that he sold a homeowners policy to a guy. The guy’s house ended up burning down. At that point it was discovered that Clancy wrote the policy wrong. The guy ended up getting twice what his house was worth. But, it’s no crime to be bad at selling insurance. It’s not proof that he did anything wrong. Is it?

Turns out the guy who’s house burned down worked in the Pentagon. Not only did he work in the Pentagon, he worked in the submarine warfare division. He knew a whole bunch of classified information about our subs and the Soviet subs. But, there’s not proof that he did anything wrong. Is there?

I went to college with a guy who’s dad also worked in the submarine warfare division. My friend Lex asked his dad about submarine warfare tactics.

Lex, you know I cannot talk about ANY of that information. However, if you would like to ask me about the material in the FICTIONAL book by Tom Clancy, I think it will answer most of your questions.

There was no proof that the burnt house guy sold Clancy insider information about submarine warfare in exchange for a “bad” homeowner policy, but the story in the BBS community was that he lost his Top Secret clearance over the possibility.

But, all of that could have been coincidence. I dismissed the suggestions from my BBS friend and I kept on reading Clancy’s books.

I’ve been a writer for a long time. At one point early in my career, I had an agent named Barbara Bova. Barbara was a much better agent than I was a writer, but she gave me encouragement when I really needed it early in my writing career. I once went to visit her and her writer husband in Naples, FL. The discussion turned to Tom Clancy.

Well, you can defend him if you want, Rodney, but the rumor is that he has ghost writers create his books. He not only gives them zero recognition, he is a prima donna to work with.

But, still that was rumor. It wasn’t enough to make me put down his books.

And then Tom Clancy’s Op Center came out.

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

I bought it. Of course, I bought it. It was by Tom Clancy. Or, at least I thought it was. As I looked at it closely, I realized that the reason Tom Clancy’s name was two inches tall on the cover was not because he wrote it, but because they made his name part of the title.

But, that’s okay. It was just a marketing deal right? Curiously the cover said “Created by Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik.” Curious word “created.” That’s sort of like “written by” right?

No, it’s not.

Turns out Jeff Rovin wrote it. But, no one knew that at first. It was an article in USA Today that I finally started to figure it out. Tom Clancy gave an interview promoting the Op Center book. In the interview he acknowledged that he didn’t write a word in the book. He led us all to believe it was Pieczenik who wrote it and that he and Pieczenik had collaborated and “created” the story which Pieczenik went on to write.

At this point I was done. I have friends who are authors. Some more famous than others. But, in every case, I know that they wrote every word in their books. If I’m going to be dropping $10-$25 for a book, I’m going to make sure the money is going to an author who I knew actually did the work.

Even Clancy’s lie about the actual author of Op Center was a lie. It wasn’t until 7 years later in 2002 that Clancy admitted it was Rovin who wrote it.

Why point this out? Why spend a few hundred words writing about an author who has been dead for over a year? for two reasons. First, Clancy’s estate continues to release books with his name on them. I guess it makes sense. He wrote as much of these current books as he wrote in many of his previous books.

But, the second and more important issue has to do with reputation. Your reputation, especially today with the advent of google searches and social media, if you lie about your credentials, you will be found out. The commandant of the Marine Corps recently was found to have falsified his credentials. He got found out.

If you lie about your credentials, you will be found out.

Don’t do it. Not an extra line on your resume. Not a lifted paragraph without giving credit. Certainly, not by putting your name in two inch tall letters on the cover of a book you didn’t write.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

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  1. This goes beyond flat-out lies and even into the territory of stretching the truth.

    I’ve been reviewing resumes for potential hires the past week, and one thing I’ve noticed repeatedly that makes me immediately drop a resume is when someone puts “Senior” into their job title or personal description when they only have 1 or 2 years of experience. Similarly, when they mark skills as “Expert” when they’ve only been using them for a year or less.

    Quite often, your lies will be immediately visible to anyone with a minimum of experience. You WILL get caught.

  2. And with the Internet, once you are caught, it’s almost impossible to reinvent yourself or even distance yourself from the lies.

  3. Kind of old fashioned, Rod. I like that.

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