Thursday, September 17, 2009
The Hunt For Red October, by Tom Clancy
Loved the movie when it first came out, but didn't get around to reading the book until now. I usually prefer the book over the movie but I'm leaning toward the movie and not just because I can't get Sean Connery out of my head as Captain Ramius.
So for those of you who aren't into Cold War games type stories - just a brief summary: Marko Ramius is a Soviet submarine captain who, with many of his officers, purloins his sub in an effort to defect to the West. Once the Soviet navy catches on to what he's doing, they throw everything they have available into the Atlantic ocean to try find the Red October and sink it. The Americans are told it is a rescue mission. The Yanks don't believe that and put their ships out to observe the Soviets and make sure they don't get too aggressive. Tensions are high, subs are deep and the go-to boy of the CIA, Jack Ryan, hops from ship to ship via air trying to contact the renegade sub captain in an effort to complete the defection and keep the sub for the Americans to strip down.
The book plot is definitely more complicated than the movie, riddled with all kinds of military hardware that I couldn't picture because I'm not ex-military. I can picture an F-15, and maybe a Sikorsky helicopter, but there was a lot more in there that lost me. I think guys would probably like it more than girls. Lots of action, not a lot of sentimental stuff. The movie had moments here and there that were more introspective, more "trying to stop Armageddon". The book plot had Ramius defecting more for personal grudges over the death of his wife, but not a lot of emotion carried over for me. The movie has Jack Ryan as this obscure genius that figures out what Ramius is doing, but in the book Jack just happens to be in the right place at the right time and he becomes the CIA's errand boy because they want to limit the information they have to just a few people.
There's some swearing, maybe an innuendo or two, nothing shocking. Kids today might not understand the whole feeling that those of us who grew up during the Cold War remember. It always seemed like the end of the world was just a push button away. I don't know what's worse; rivalry between two major world powers or religious fanatics hiding in caves and strapping bombs to their young people.
The book still kept me up late in the night. Way too late. It's a toss up over movie and book. You can decide for yourself.