Tom Clancy: The Insurance Salesman Who Fooled the Feds

Riley Sundew

Updated Tuesday, July 2, 2024 at 12:00 AM CDT

Tom Clancy, renowned for his intricately detailed military novels, captivated readers worldwide with stories so realistic that many believed he had a background in the armed forces. Contrary to popular belief, Clancy never served in the military. Instead, he penned his thrilling tales in his spare time while working as an insurance salesman.

A social media post shared by user "tilthat" reveals this fascinating aspect of Clancy's life. The post highlights how Clancy's unparalleled attention to detail in his writing led many to mistakenly assume he was ex-military. In a surprising twist, user "alternative-munster" adds that Clancy’s lifelike depictions of military operations were so convincing that federal agents interrogated him, suspecting he had inside information.

Clancy's ability to weave intricate plots filled with technical details and strategic military maneuvers earned him a reputation as a master storyteller. His debut novel, "The Hunt for Red October," became an instant success, thrilling readers with its gripping narrative about a Soviet submarine captain's defection to the United States. The book's authenticity was so compelling that even members of Congress reportedly questioned how the Soviets had developed a submarine caterpillar drive before the United States.

One commenter reminisced about a favorite Tom Clancy story, where Clancy's writing led to confusion among federal agencies. The user noted that after Clancy wrote "The Hunt for Red October," the CIA received calls from congresspersons demanding to know how the Russians had developed such advanced technology, not realizing it was a work of fiction.

Despite his success, Clancy was not without his critics. Some found his books laden with excessive technical details, leading to what they described as monotonous reading experiences. However, fans of his early works, such as "Clear and Present Danger" and "Without Remorse," appreciated his meticulous approach, which contributed to the novels' authenticity and depth.

Interestingly, Clancy's influence extended beyond literature. In 2008, video game company Ubisoft acquired the rights to use Tom Clancy’s name for media and merchandising, further cementing his legacy. This acquisition occurred five years before his death, demonstrating Clancy's lasting impact on both the literary and entertainment industries.

Clancy's life and work underscore the power of imagination and meticulous research. His ability to create believable and enthralling stories without any formal military experience remains a testament to his skill as a writer. The insurance salesman-turned-author left an indelible mark on the world of military fiction, inspiring readers and creators alike with his unparalleled storytelling prowess.

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View source: Imgur

Top Comments from Imgur


Tom Clancy was a complete s*** of a human and a sloppy drunk. Personal experience at several functions. Loved his books, though.


Favorite TC story; after he wrote Red October, he was told by people in the know, that the CIA was getting calls from congresspersons demanding to know how the Russians developed a submarine caterpillar drive before we did. These are the people deciding the direction of our country, and they couldn't tell the difference between fiction and a security briefing.


#6 one of the Feynman stories was that when he was told to get to New Mexico, take a non obvious route. (As were the other physicists). He figured if the others were being non-obvious, then he could go directly. When he booked his direct travel they said “oh, you must be the guy getting all the equipment and files we’re sending there.”


His books are f***ing horrible. Endless page after page of technical details after details to the point of utter boredom.


"Cleve Cartmill" sounds like one of the made-up "American" names that the Japanese came up with for that old NES baseball game.


Here's another fun fact: In 2008, video game company Ubisoft bought the rights to Tom Clancy's name for use in media and merchandising. This was 5 years before Tom Clancy's death. As his final play, the man sold his name lol.


Sounds like lots of cases of uptight officials simply finding out that they were not nearly as clever as they thought they were. I suspect such stories will continue, and have always continued, to occur.


#4 What does this picture have to do with anything?


Nowadays, the Feds have to settle for getting upset at War Thunder forum posters.


Another story: codenames related to the D-Day operation ended up appearing in The Daily Telegraph, because the crossword compiler was a schoolteacher and asked his students for interesting words they'd heard and incorporated them into his crosswords. But since they lived near a military base...

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