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Commander In Chief
Jack Ryan #16
Mark Greaney / Tom Clancy

G.P. Putnam
12/1/15 / ISBN 9780399176760

Reviewed by Elise Cooper


Commander In Chief, a Jack Ryan novel, written by Mark Greaney has all the ingredients of a Tom Clancy story. There is action, technology, a lot of world politics, and characters that many wish actually existed. This book can be seen as a follow-up to Command Authority, the last book actually written with Tom Clancy.

Greaney noted, “When I wrote Command Authority with Tom Clancy Putin had attacked the Ukraine and was in a position of strength. We decided to have Volodin as a literary Putin figure, never trying to mask it. Now because of the repercussions of sanctions he is in a weak position, which is why I put in the quote about Russia not having a better military, economy, geography, or ideas than the West. I decided to bring back the Putin-like villain, Valeri Volodin, who uses the threat of force in a move of desperation. He is playing poker with a bad hand, but is a very good bluffer. Russia still sees the Baltic States as their territory.”

The plot includes two themes: a geographical political war between NATO and Russia, which is where President Jack Ryan has a major role. The other features Jack Ryan Jr. who attempts to find out what the Russian leadership is up to by following the finances involving money-laundering schemes. The plot has Russian President Valeri Volodin planning to expand his power and territory by covertly taking over Lithuania. US President Jack Ryan recognizes this action but needs proof to get the European nations on board. With the help from the Campus, a clandestine small operations unit, President Ryan must move swiftly to stop Volodin’s grand plan of global conquest that could change the balance of power.

Readers realize that this relates to today’s events. The story is almost the direct opposite of what is happening. The US President, Ryan, actually want to win wars and takes aggressive action. He is attempting to get the passive European nations to help in the fight. Compare that to today where the French President is asking for US support.

Greaney also commented about his status in writing future Clancy books. Currently he is not contracted to write another Ryan novel. It would be a shame for those who are fans of Jack Ryan, because Greaney writes such action packed plots, while maintaining the flavor of a Clancy story. When asked about it he stated, “I had a conversation with my editor about a grand idea I have for another plot. I just want to make sure I have enough pieces of the plot to make it interesting. I want to make the stories realistic to the contemporary world while being honest to the characters.”

Currently the author has his own book coming out in February. His “Gray Man” series has a former CIA, para-military type chased by the CIA. Having worked as a contract killer around the globe he will come back home to confront the CIA leadership.

Whether writing his own series or the Jack Ryan series, Greaney combines enthralling characters with realistic plots. He seems to be able to foreshadow events in the real world. Commander In Chief is a riveting book that readers will not want to put down.

Reviewed 2016