A Complete List of Tom Clancy Books and Novels Rated From Best To Worst

The American novelist Tom Clancy carved a niche for himself as a published author and novelist. His stints in writing military science and spy fiction thrillers made Tom Clancy books a must-read during the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s. Throughout his career which spanned for close to three decades, the American author released more than 17 bestseller books and also sold over 100 million copies worldwide. Born in Baltimore, Maryland in the US, Tom Clancy took the literary world by the storm with his first book, The Hunt for Red October, published in 1984.

Prior to his writing career, Tom Clancy first started his career, working as an insurance officer. Meanwhile, he is a 1969 English Literature graduate of Loyola College, Baltimore. However, in 1980 he purchased an insurance agency from his wife’s grandmother and while working there, he dedicated his spare time to writing; an act which later culminated into a lifelong career starting from 1982. He spent more than two and a half decades of his adulthood writing novels before he passed on in 2013. Tom Clancy books and novels cut across Techno-thriller, Spy-fiction, Non-fiction, Crime, and Military History. Interestingly, most of his works have been adapted into commercially successful movies and video games.

Here, we take a look at Tom Clancy’s books as they are ranked from best to worst. Hope you’d find it very interesting. Happy reading!

A Complete List of Tom Clancy Books and Novels Rated Best to Worst

1. The Hunt for Red October (1984)

  • Goodreads: 4.1/5
  • Common Sense Media: 4/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4.6/5
  • Audible: 4.8/5
  • Abebooks: 4.1/5

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This happens to be the book that introduced Tom Clancy’s phenomenal career and cemented his place as one of America’s bestselling authors of all time. The novel unleashes the writer’s penning skills for spy and military thrillers. The scenarios and details of this novel are so realistic and accurate, that people thought the writer had previously worked as a spy.

Its plot centers on Marko Alexandrovich Ramius, a Lithuanian submarine commander in the Soviet Navy, who intends to defect to the United States with his officers on board the experimental nuclear submarine Red October during the Cold War. Although the entire Soviet Atlantic Fleet is ordered to hunt down the submarine and destroy her at all costs, the Americans are also determined to find her first and get her safely to port in the intelligence coups of all time.

Filled with suspense from the start till the end, The Hunt for Red October was adapted into a film of the same name in 1990, starring Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery. More so, it also served as the basis for three computer video games. Soon after it was published in 1984, the novel quickly topped the New York Times bestseller list and also garnered high praise from the American government, especially from the then-president Ronald Reagan.

2. Patriot Games (1987)

  • Goodreads: 4.1/5
  • Common Sense Media: 4.2/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4.5/5
  • Audible: 4/5

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Yet another crime fiction thriller from Tom Clancy, Patriot Games is an indirect sequel to his other book, Without Remorse (released in 1993). This novel tends to enthrall the reader with its plot targeting human emotions of passion and revenge which keeps you eagerly anticipating what is to come. This book follows Jack Ryan as his family becomes a target for the Ulster Liberation Army, after thwarting their attack on the Prince and Princess of Whales in London. Released in 1987, this book was adapted into a film of the same name in 1992, starring Harrison Ford and Samuel L. Jackson. Both the novel and its screen adaption were critically acclaimed and commercially successful.

3. Clear and Present Danger (1989)

  • Goodreads: 4.1/5
  • Common Sense Media: 4/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4.4/5
  • Audible: 4.7/5
  • Abebooks: 4.1/5

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This political and crime fiction thriller is one of the most interesting books by Tom Clancy. Featuring a great blend of suspense and humor, Clear and Present Danger still resonates today following its in-depth look at the causes and effects of the War on Drugs. Ranked among the bestselling novels in the ‘80s, the novel revolves around the covert war between American Special Forces and the Columbian drug cartels. As Jack Ryan advances to the top of the CIA, he discovers that he is being kept in the dark by his colleagues, who are conducting a covert war against a Columbia-based drug cartel. When the mission failed, Jack goes on a rescue mission to save the abandoned US soldiers.

Soon after it was released in 1989, the novel dominated the New York Times bestseller list for a long time. More so, it was incorporated into a feature film of the same name with Harrison Ford reprising his role as Jack Ryan in 1994. The novel received critical acclaim and is regarded as Tom’s best work since The Hunt for Red October (1984).

4. Without Remorse (1993)

  • Goodreads: 4.2/5
  • Common Sense Media: 5/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4.2/5
  • Audible: 4.6/5
  • Abebooks: 4.2/5

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Although the main character of this novel, John Clark later became one of the recurring characters in the Jack Ryan series, the storyline was set during the Vietnam War. It chronicles the life of John Clark, a lovestruck Ex-SEAL who crosses the line of justice and morality to become the CIA legend known as Mr. Clark. Before joining the CIA, Clark fought a one-man war against drug dealers in Baltimore, attracting the attention of Jack’s father Emmet, who is a Baltimore police detective. At the time, Jack Ryan was still a teenager.

Released in 1993, Without Remorse is a prequel to his 1987 thriller, Patriot Games. In addition to being suspense-filled, it also has heart-wrenching scenes which culminate into a fulfilling act of vengeance and emotional rollercoaster. Upon release, the book debuted atop the bestseller lists and was critically acclaimed by fans and critics.

5. Executive Orders (1996)

  • Goodreads: 4.1/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4.2/5
  • Audible: 4.7/5
  • Abebooks: 4.1/5

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A sequel to Debt of Honor, Executive Orders picks up from where the former ended. It places Jack Ryan in a situation he never expected he would be – serving as the US President. And while he struggles to rebuild the government amid threats and fighting wars on multiple fronts, he survives an assassination attempt and a biological warfare attack on the United States. As a result, he is forced to learn fast or pay dearly.

Released in 1996, this book was dedicated to former POTUS Ronald Reagan, who has been instrumental to Tom Clancy’s worldwide success. It topped the New York bestseller list and was also commercially successful; selling over 2.3 million copies soon after it was published. Although it is a sequel to Debt of Honor, the book was incredible successful than the former.

6. The Sum of All Fears (1991)

  • Goodreads: 4/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4.6/5
  • Audible: 4.7/5
  • Abebooks: 4/5

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Yet another suspense-filled and compelling book from Tom Clancy, The Sum of All Fears tackled a vital and elusive quality – grace under pressure while taking readers on a nonstop rollercoaster to a nail-biting finish. This novel, which is a sequel to Clear and Present Danger (released in 1989), follows Jack Ryan, who is now the Deputy Director of the CIA, as he tries to stop a crisis surrounding the Middle East peace process where Palestinian and former East German terrorists conspire to bring the United States and the Soviet Union into nuclear war.

The novel was released in 1991 and was adapted into a feature film of the same name in the Jack Ryan series in 2002, starring Ben Affleck as Ryan. In addition to getting high praise from fans and critics, the book was a hit; thus reaching the No. 1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list. It also inspired several video games that were released by Ubisoft in 2002.

7. The Cardinal of Kremlin (1988)

  • Goodreads: 4/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4.4/5
  • Audible: 4.4/5
  • Abebooks: 4/5

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A sequel to his first book The Hunt for Red October (released in 1984), The Cardinal of the Kremlin follows Jack Ryan, as he leads a CIA operation that is aimed at extracting the agency’s highest agent in Kremlin, codenamed CARDINAL. However, Cardinal is also being hunted by the KGB as well as the Soviet intelligence agency’s director. Jack will have to get to him first before the KGB does.

Filled with an in-depth look at cold war spycraft, The Cardinal of Kremlin is regarded as a great spy novel and a close rival to The Hunt for Red October. With its great storyline, the book became the bestselling novel of the year, recording over 1.2 million in sales. It also inspired a series of video games of the same name.

8. Rainbow Six (1998)

  • Goodreads: 4.1/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4.1/5
  • Audible: 4.6/5
  • Abebooks: 4.1/5

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It’s super-amazing seeing the connection between Tom Clancy’s books and reality. It is known that this novel was written years before the 9/11 attack and the War of Terror era. However, Tom anticipated a world in which terrorist cells could create as much fear as the most reckless rogue nations. The suspense-filled 1998 techno-thriller centers on a special-ops team put together by John Clark and Ding Chavez. Made up of their bravest soldiers, the group try to combat a worldwide genocide attempt by eco-terrorists.

This novel seamlessly unleashed an in-depth of military tactics, colorful cast of commandos, and fast-paced action scenes which would keep you hooked till the end. Rainbow Six topped the bestseller lists and was released simultaneously with a series of video games which sold over 25 million copies not long after it was released. Regardless of its wide acclaim, it was highly criticized for the implausibility of the plot and some of the secondary characters which give a flat, dime-novel feel.

9. Debt of Honor (1994)

  • Goodreads: 4.1/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4.4/5
  • Audible: 4.5/5
  • Abebooks: 4/5

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Amongst all Tom Clancy’s books, Debt of Honor happens to be his most intricate tales. The storyline delves into industrial espionage, economic policies, and misguided patriotism. It also creates an authentic look at how easy it is for two nations to stumble into a war with one another. This novel, which is a sequel to his other novel, The Sum of All Fears (released in 1991), features Jack Ryan as he assumes the post of National Security Advisor; when a secret cabal of Japanese industrialists seize control of their country’s government and wage war on the United States. Notably, it was in this book that, Tom Clancy first foretold the 9/11 attacks. While it received critical acclaim from fans and critics, the book was heavily criticized for its racist depiction of Japanese characters as well as the financial details that slowed down the plot.

10. The Bear and the Dragon (2000)

  • Goodreads: 3.9/5
  • Audiobooks.com: 4.4/5
  • Audible: 4.6/5
  • Abebooks: 3.8/5

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Also, one of the books in Tom Clancy Jack Ryan’s series, The Bear and the Dragon was released in 2000. It was a sequel to Executive Orders (released in 1996). Although it has a great storyline, nevertheless, the book was not well-received like the former. Regarded as Clancy’s longest novel, the 1,028 paged-book entails President Jack Ryan’s approach to the war between Russia and China. After a Chinese police officer kills a Roman Catholic Cardinal, the American armed forces help Russia quell the Chinese invasion of Siberia.

Soon after it was released, the book received mixed reviews. While it was acclaimed for its cinematic climax and abundance of African-American characters, it was also criticized for its length, overreliance on right-wing politics, and racist depiction of Chinese characters.

See Also: A List of John Grisham Books Rated From Best to Worst

Recap of the List of Tom Clancy Books and Novels Rated Best to Worst

1. The Hunt for Red October (1984)

2. Patriot Games (1987)

3. Clear and Present Danger (1989)

4. Without Remorse (1993)

5. Executive Orders (1996)

6. The Sum of All Fears (1991)

7. The Cardinal of Kremlin (1988)

8. Rainbow Six (1998)

9. Debt of Honor (1994)

10. The Bear and the Dragon (2000)

Other Works by the Author

Over the course of his career that spanned between 1984 and 2013, Tom Clancy authored over 20 books. His most popular works to date remain the Jack Ryan Series. Prior to his death in 2013, the author published 19 novels, out of which he wrote 13. The remaining 6 were written in collaboration with other authors. More of his collaborative works were also released after his death. They include:

  • Red Strom Rising (1986 with Larry Bond)
  • SSN: Strategies for Submarine Warfare (1996)
  • Red Rabbit (2002)
  • The Teeth of the Tiger (2003)
  • Dead or Alive (2010 with Grant Blackwood)
  • Against All Enemies (2011 with Peter Telep)
  • Locked On (2011 with mark Greaney)
  • Threat Vector (with Mark Greaney in 2012)
  • Command Authority (2013 with Mark Greaney)

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