Command Authority by Tom Clancy (Jack Ryan Series #9)

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When I started reading Command Authority by Tom Clancy, I did so with a heavy heart, knowing that the author has passed away just recently and this book will forever be his last. However, I was looking forward to a long read (all Tom Clancy novels are quite long, and this one doesn’t disappoint at over 700 pages) and a fun read at that.

I’ve read the previous books in the Jack Ryan series, so I was caught up with the latest one, which is book #9. It is also book #6 in the Jack Ryan junior series – see the post on Tom Clancy reading order for which book comes in which order in which series, as the author has written several related series. I found it a great read, as usual, and it was entertaining to read again the adventures of Jack Ryan – who now is president – after all this time.

For what it’s worth, I’ve read that the last 3 Jack Ryan books (in the Jack Ryan’s series, Locked On, Threat Vector and Command Authority) have been actually written by Mark Greaney, but whether Tom Clancy put words to the paper or another author under the Tom Clancy franchise, the writing is still great and I haven’t noticed any major discrepancies between earlier novels and the latest ones. And Command Authority was still a pure joy to read.

In Command Authority Jack Ryan is now president, and re-elected, into his second term, at that. He has a son, Jack Ryan Jr., who is currently working in the UK as a financial analyst at a company called Castor & Boyle Risk Analytics. Jr. realized that something is wrong when Russia does a violent takeover of a Scottish billionaire’s oil company based on the notion that the Scottish hasn’t paid taxes. Of course, he goes off investigating.

At the same time, Jack Ryan, the president of the US, is at lunch with a former Russian former FSB agent, a friend of his, who is poisoned during said lunch. Soon it is clear that the president is set up, as Russia is accusing the CIA of “helping” with the poisoning.

There is so much going on, so many seemingly different threads – that eventually will elegantly merge, that at times it’s difficult to keep them straight. The author has a knack for weaving all these different storylines together, ping-ponging between present and past, going back to 30 years ago.

Jack Ryan, the current president, is shown as a young man (at about the same age as his son now) and the storyline alternates between the present and the past, with both father and son investigating the very same case.

Jack Ryan Rr investigates, is targeted by the Russian mafia and is helped by John Clark and the covert ops in the group called Campus (which gets its own separate series as well), all while he discovers ties to an assassin that was part of his father’s life during his youth, with the assassin once saving Jack Ryan’s life when he was still a CIA agent.

We have the cold war again with the Russian president wanting to expand into other territories (including Ukraine) and the political dance between Russia and the US that seemingly forgot that the cold war is long over.

It’s really a lot of things going on at the same time, jumping between timelines, between different characters (and oh there are so many characters in the what we call Jack Ryan universe), yet somehow when reading the book you don’t get the feeling of being lost, it’s relatively easy to keep track of what, who, where, when and why. And even with over 700 pages in this book, you’ll find yourself reading it quite fast as it’s full of action that gets you to turn the pages to see what comes next.

I really enjoyed the latest of the Jack Ryan novels and while I am sad to know that the author passed away just 2 months ago, I am hoping that the Jack Ryan franchise will continue with Mark Greaney writing more books – he does seem to have the knack for it pretty well. Had I known in advance that he co-authored (if he didn’t actually write it all by himself) the book, I would have honestly believed it was all Tom Clancy pen, paper, and book.

All in all Command Authority is a worthwhile read, one that should not be missed by anyone who loves a good spy novel in the tradition that once Tom Clancy put forward in the 80s.

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