The Hunt for Red October was the first techno-thriller novel by Tom Clancy. It was published in 1984 by the Naval Institute Press and the U.S. President, at the time, Ronald Reagan said of it, that he had enjoyed reading the book. I’m not surprised, it’s a real page-turner.
It’s a clever plot, with a lot of detail. Russian Naval Captain Marko Ramius, who is of Lithuanian descent, is at sea with his nuclear submarine. The sub is called Red October, hence the books name, and it is bristling with state-of-the-art ballistic missiles. The submarine utilises a silent propulsion system called the caterpillar drive. This means that audio detection by passive sonar is near impossible – this is deeply concerning for the Americans.
He appears to have gone rogue.
We first see a name, Jack Ryan, which we all know now. Jack Ryan works for the Central Intelligence Agency as an analyst. Jack has a theory. He believes that Ramius is intent on defecting to the United States.
Ramius kills the boats political officer, Ivan Putin, in case he tried to prevent him from defecting. He lies to the crew telling them that they are going to Cuba, but by this time the Russians are in hot pursuit having been notified of his plans by Ramius. The letter arrived after he had set sail.
The Russians pretend that they are on a search and rescue mission, but they will sink Red October if they have to.
As the Red October passes by Iceland whilst making its escape it comes close to the USS Dallas, a Los Angeles-class submarine. The American crew hear an unusual sound, the caterpillar drive, but they don’t initially think that it is as a submarine.
The Americans suspect the motives of the Russians and crews are on alert.
On the Dallas submarine the crew analyse the sonar tape again. They realise that what they heard was the new propulsion system of the Red October.
Jack Ryan then begins to work his magic.
Tom Clancy wrote many fantastic books in his career, but The Hunt for Red October has always been my personal favourite of his.
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