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The Bear and the Dragon


The Bear and the Dragon

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When all is said and done, at the end of the day, when the dog has
been let out and the kids have been put to bed and the cats have
been force-fed their fur balls back at 'em, I get just a bit tired
of the mental midgets who knock Tom Clancy. Yes, his books are
long. There is a reason for this. He uses a pinpoint brush on a
broad, expansive canvas. It's all in the details. That takes words,
words take pages. And the author needs talent to keep readers
interested through (in the case of THE BEAR AND THE DRAGON)
1100-plus pages.

Clancy has tons of details, as many pages as he wants, talent out
the kazoo, and interested readers by the country load. And it's the
readers, as Clancy recently informed a rudely stupid pundit on
nationwide television a couple of weeks ago (hint: the talking
head's name sounds like "Brat Liar"), that Clancy cares

Clancy's novels succeed on several levels. Jack Ryan --- that's
President Jack Ryan --- is worthy of his title. Here is a guy who
doesn't wonder what the definition of "is" is, knows how to handle
reporters, and has enough sense of who he is and what his
priorities should be and what his responsibilities are that he
wouldn't, say, keep a head of state waiting while he was satisfying
his curiosity about whether the carpet matched the curtains with a
fetching intern. He's a real President. And a real hero. What a

Then there is Clancy's penchant for details. I know, I know, I
unfortunately have reached the stage in my life where if there are
more than a half-dozen principals in a novel I am flipping back and
forth to figure out who is what. But you can't write a book that
spans three continents and umpteen different levels of government
in each one and have three characters controlling the action. And
where you have people, you have things happening, and you have

Clancy forgets nothing and accounts for everything. And when you
leave one of his books, you feel like you know the characters
you've just met. You also feel as if you have read an account of
actual events, rather than a work of fiction. Then there's the
action. There is drama and nobility and pathos and suspense and
everything that you would want in an action/adventure novel, and in
a Tom Clancy novel.

THE BEAR AND THE DRAGON demonstrates the true, unplumbed depth of
Clancy's talent. It never lags and never disappoints. Things start
out with a bang when persons unknown try to take out the head of
the former KGB, now SVR, with a rocket-propelled grenade. And there
is no lack of suspects for the deed. Jack Ryan, settling in
somewhat uneasily after an American electorate throws off the yoke
of complacency and elects him President (this is, after all, a work
of fiction), lends FBI support to the Russians for their
investigation. Surprise: the Red Chinese are behind it.

The Chinese, the "Dragon" to the Russian "Bear" in THE BEAR AND THE
DRAGON, have their chestnuts in the fire. Their economy is a
shambles and dissent rears its head from within. Worst of all, the
Red Chinese have to deal with a U. S. President who won't
unilaterally give away the farm (again, this is a work of fiction).
Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Red Chinese
accordingly launch a two-pronged plan: destabilize the Russian
government and prepare to invade Siberia --- where gold, of both
the solid yellow type and the black viscous stuff known as oil,
have recently been discovered.

Nothing goes as planned, however. A Chinese woman, seeking to avoid
the government-sanctioned murder of her unborn child, appeals to a
missionary for assistance. As it happens, the missionary is
accompanied by the Papal Nuncio at the time. When the religious
leaders are accidentally shot while trying to protect the child,
chaos erupts. President Ryan acts of principle, calls off the trade
talks, and announces financial embargoes in the face of
saber-rattling from Red China and criticism from the American
press. Ryan, showing a level of testosterone undreamed of in a US
leader since the 1980s, refuses to back down. At the same time, he
begins receiving intelligence information about China's move
against Russia. Ryan confers with his counterpart in Russia, and
then the fun really begins!

THE BEAR AND THE DRAGON is 100 per cent pure Clancy. It has
everything, including the kitchen sink and all of the utensils. And
it will last you until the next Clancy novel. It is a gem of a book
from an author who has become one of our national treasures. Very
highly recommended.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

The Bear and the Dragon
by Tom Clancy

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Mass Market Paperback: 1152 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 0425180964
  • ISBN-13: 9780425180969