Fiction. Suspense. Thriller. Newly elected, Jack Ryan has found that being President is not easy: domestic pitfalls await him at every turn; there's a revolution in Liberia; the Asian economy is going down the tubes; and now, in Moscow, someone may have tried to assassinate the chairman of the SVR - the former KGB - with a rocket-propelled grenade. Were the potential assassins political enemies, the Russian Mafia, or disaffected former KGB? Or is something far more dangerous at work here? While Ryan dispatches his most trusted eyes and ears, including black ops specialist John Clark, to find out the truth of the matter, forces in China are moving ahead with a plan of truly audacious proportions. If they succeed, the world will never look the same again.
Now, what is this novel about? As the title suggests it is about a conflict between Russia, or the 'Bear', and China, the 'Dragon'. The novel starts with two seemingly unrelated events. There is the attempt to murder a high-ranking Russian politician and there is the find of a gold mine and huge oil resources in Siberia. As Chinese trade with the US comes to a halt, China's economy is on the brink of collapse and its government needs to find a source of money. As a consequence the Chinese Politburo eventually starts plotting an offensive on Russia to seize their gold mine and their oil resources. Having inside information into the content of the meetings of the Chinese Politburo, the CIA informs President Jack Ryan. Together they try to prevent a war between Russia and China by inviting Russia into NATO. This plan, however, fails, war begins and a nuclear strike on major American cities by the Chinese cannot be ruled out.
Tom Clancy is one of those authors who do not need an introduction and probably do not need their writing reviewed anymore. Still, after having read The Bear and the Dragon I feel compelled to say something about Clancy's writing. This is the third Clancy novel I have read and I think that Clancy puts a lot of research and information into his works. On the one hand this makes some things - especially military or intelligence-related issues - easier to understand. On the other hand this makes for a lot of padding. This is especially true for the beginning of The Bear and the Dragon where I still felt like being introduced to the setting of the novel after a hundred pages or so. All those lengthy introductions to a huge set of characters, who are not only referred to by their names but also by their military ranks, positions or code names, made me almost put down the book. But once the story started to unfold I was actually quite drawn in by Clancy's writing and the novel became a very interesting page-turner. 3.5 stars.
Although action scenes are great what annoys me the most is "US-to-the-rescue" attitude
Beside that, if you are in high-tech military thrillers try it out - you'll probably like it :)
As for the book itself, it was a classic Clancey, with rich character description and plot narration. The starts off slow (very slow in some cases) but the last 500 or so pages fly by. I have the feeling the book could be a few hundred pages shorter, but the back story about how the conflict gets started is needed. As for the ‘Ryan Series’, it’s a good one, but not one of the top.