The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy is a story based on submarine warfare. Yes I know, I’m supremely late to the party but better late than never, right? I remember watching this movie back in my intermediate school days but never did quite finishing it. All I remembered was that it was an excellent movie up till the point I was cut short and that it was based on submarines. The movie also aired on TNT back in the days but I still don’t remember ever finishing it. After so many years later, I’ve finally managed to get to the end of this excellent novel by Tom Clancy. If you’ve read any of the author’s previous books, then I’m sure you’ll already be in familiar territory. Basically, the author is known for giving readers a close look to the military lifestyles on some of the world’s most elite combat special forces. With The Hunt for Red October, we get a special inside look at just how a crew of 100 or so operate a gigantic submarine.
The story is a simple one. Caption Marko Ramius of the Soviet Union plans to defect to the United States. The problem for the Soviet Union is due to the fact that Ramius plans to bring along their most advance submarine as a present for the Americans. While the Americans are willing to welcome both Captain Ramius and his crew with open arms, it is still a matter of being able to track and locate his submarine in the first place. Also, with a whole fleet of Russian submarine and warships joining in on the hunt, tensions quickly escalate in finding the missing submarine. The story in The Hunt for Red October is not so far fetched. With Russia and communism, many people live a fairly miserable life with fairly no hopes of seeing a change anytime soon. Basically, the word ‘freedom’ doesn’t exist in their vocabulary. It takes a strong willed and brilliant man such as Marko Ramius to carry out a secret mission of defecting to another country in hopes to seek out what freedom really is.
With The Hunt for Red October, we get another glimpse at one of the author’s main creation, Jack Ryan. Chronologically, Jack is still a young analyst for the CIA here. If the name rings a bell, then it’s probably due to you watching other movies based on the author’s novel such as Clear and Present Danger (portrayed by Harrison Ford) and The Sum of All Fears (portrayed by Ben Affleck). Throughout the first half of the book, it will mainly deal with Ryan in finding out about the defecting submarine and how to deal with it. During the second half or so, the author will throw numerous other characters at you a la Stephen King. Many of them are obviously not major characters but it does give you the effect of seeing how one single event can have such a major impact on so many people’s lives. Although the story of The Hunt for Red October is fictitious, the actions and events that take place can actually happen if a event such as this were to happen in real life.
I’m sure many others would agree with me in that reading books on submarine warfare is not what they consider to be normal. Therefore, expect to read about many 3-4 letter acronyms that will confuse the heck out of you. Expect to be confused when the author talks about the many instruments and inner workings of a submarine. The good news is that I didn’t feel it to be too overwhelming. You definitely can get through the story without understanding anything about a submarine but I’m sure your experience will be a lot better if you do. Therefore, reading The Hunt for Red October presented an excellent opportunity for me to do a little research on some of the things mentioned in this book that relates to this underwater monster of a creation.
The pace of the book is pretty slow but that is to be expected. Remember, a lot of things take place inside various submarines and battleships. It wasn’t like the Russians could have just flew an warplane over the submarine under miles and miles of water, drop a bomb and called it a day. The beauty with reading The Hunt of Red October is finding out just how difficult it can be to track and locate a submarine that does not want to be found!
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed The Hunt of Red October. Rarely have I read a book by Tom Clancy that failed to impress me as reader who loves to read about secret military operations. Hey, if I don’t live the life, I can at least read about people who does, right?