Executive Orders

by Tom Clancy

Hardcover, 1996



Don't Miss the Original Series Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan Starring John Krasinski! The President is dead. Now, the weight of the world falls on Jack Ryan's shoulders in this extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller from Tom Clancy. At the climax of Debt of Honor, the most devastating terrorist act in the history of the world left the President, the Joint Chiefs, the Supreme Court, and nearly all of Congress dead. Only Jack Ryan, confirmed Vice President mere minutes before, survived to take the reins of a shaken and leaderless country. Now he must rebuild a government, comfort a grieving nation, and become a true leader. Meanwhile, he is surrounded by enemies--both inside the White House and around the world--all of them plotting to destroy an untested President. And bring an already wounded country to its knees....… (more)


½ (944 ratings; 3.8)

User reviews

LibraryThing member ShelfMonkey
I've never read Tom Clancy before. I've seen the movies, and enjoyed them (THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER in particular). But Clancy as a novelist was a new experience.

I suppose I should have seen my overall reaction coming. When Clancy dedicated his book to Ronald Reagan, I had a sneaking suspicion as
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to where the story would lead.

The story has plenty of pulp promise. What appears to be the entire American government is wiped out in one fell swoop, and it's up to Jack Ryan to become the new president. But Clancy doesn't know when to quit. He adds on layers and layers of subplots, most of which would work by themselves, but only serve here to bloat an already large novel.

Part of the problem is that there is no sympathy created for any character. Every person in Ryan's entourage is decent, hard-working, and completely uninteresting. Any person who doesn't fit in with Clancy's idea of a hero is treated with suspicion and contempt. It might make a difference if ANY character was remotely memorable, but evidently, characterization is not Clancy's strong suit.

I had higher hopes for the action portions of the novel, but alas, I was also disappointed. Pages and pages of technical jargon only prove that Clancy has done his homework. What it doesn't do is advance the plot. Tank warfare may make for entertaining viewing, but they make for deadly dull reading. Particularly if, once again, there is absolutely no empathy created for anyone involved in the actual battles.

And as for the actual backstage look at how the presidency is run? I am reminded of a recent newspaper critique of television's THE WEST WING. It stated (quite accurately, to my mind) that when it comes to drama, the democratic viewpoint is the most dramatically satisfying. It leads to shows such as THE WEST WING, I'LL FLY AWAY, PICKET FENCES, and HOMICIDE. When the republican viewpoint is emphasized in a drama, you get THE A-TEAM and TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL.
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LibraryThing member sdobie
After most of the top levels of the US government are wiped out, Jack Ryan ends up as president of the US, and has to face both internal and external threats.

By this point in his career, Clancy's books were becoming much more ideological and less interesting, and Executive Orders is quite bloated.
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A big portion of the book is devoted to an internal terrorism plot that goes nowhere and just fills up pages. The bioterror plot is more interesting, but still not all that plausible. There is still some decent entertainment value, but it would have been better at much less length.
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LibraryThing member jpsnow
It's impressive when 850+ pages can be called a quick read. This is one of my favorite Clancy novels due to the frantic action and the role of Jack Ryan.
LibraryThing member Lwyrbabe
Can I give a book 100 stars instead of 5? This is my all-time favorite book although I must admit that I now (having read it about 10 times) prefer the audiobook abridged version -- it takes some of the excess military details out.

Readers should not start with this book if they are interested in
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reading Clancy's Jack Ryan series. They should start with "Hunt for Red October" and move forward. The development of Ryan's character throughout the series is brilliant.
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LibraryThing member Palunboy
An eeriely accurate look at what could have happened instead of what happened on 9/11. A very good and compelling read.
LibraryThing member santhony
This plot line stretches the imagination, but it is captivating nonetheless. If you are a Clancy fan, you will love this novel.
LibraryThing member Lynngood
A thriller in which Jack Ryan is faced with crushing responsibilities when he becomes the new President of the US after a jumbo jet crashes into the Capitol Building in Washington, leaving the President dead, along with most of the Cabinet and Congress.
LibraryThing member barbgarcia1987
This one is also one of my favorites of Mr. Clancy's books. I enjoyed reading it a lot (and often). Do I ever think something like this would happen, no, but this is fiction. The author takes an idea and runs with it. I think he did a great job of running with it. His books have gotten a little
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thick, but I still did not want this one to end.
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LibraryThing member reading_fox
Rapid decline. Thanks to a very silly ending in the book before Ryan is now president. with a government to create, China becomes the new enemy introducing biological weapons in order to grab land. Ryan's presidentcy is put to the test, but fortunetly his army has all the latest toys and saves the
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day. Again.

Despite being huge it lacks the interesting details of former books, and doesn't have the saving grace of taut prose to redeem it.
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LibraryThing member Carl_Alves
Executive Orders follows in the series of what was easily the worst Jack Ryan novel written, so my expectations were a bit tempered prior to reading this novel. After a suicide plane bomber (from Japan no less) kills off two thirds of the US government, Jack Ryan is the president by default. Now he
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has to deal with an Iranian terrorist group trying to manufacture and spread the ebola virus while trying to get the country's government back in order. Since most of congress and the senate were killed off in the previous novel, a whole new group of legislatures must be elected, and Ryan urges for citizen politicians, just like in the good old days of this country. Sometimes it's hard to get past some of the silliness in Clancy's novel, but the plot in this case is pretty solid, much improved from the last novel. Jack Ryan is often complaining about the politics of being the president, and is better cast as a CIA agent, but it was still fun to see him in this new role. Clancy's novels are never great, but they usually are pretty good, as is the case in Executive Orders. If you have read other novels in the series, you will want to read this one as well.
Carl Alves - author of Blood Street
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LibraryThing member DCavin
My first Clancy. I really enjoyed the book, though it took me over a month to read. The last 10% of the book seemed to drag a bit as it got into the 'war' which for me would have been better had it been 20 pages, not 80. I'm sure I will read another Clancy book, but not for a while as this 464,000
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word book was a tough read.
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LibraryThing member DCavin
My first Clancy. I really enjoyed the book, though it took me over a month to read. The last 10% of the book seemed to drag a bit as it got into the 'war' which for me would have been better had it been 20 pages, not 80. I'm sure I will read another Clancy book, but not for a while as this 464,000
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word book was a tough read.
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LibraryThing member writertomg
President Ryan deserved a much better book, Tom Clancy. Not one of the better "Ryanverse" novels, I think this is the one that got me to stop reading Clancy.
LibraryThing member JoniMFisher
Mind-blowing thriller that reads like a horror story because of the plausible scenario.
LibraryThing member MacDad
This is the book that finished my interest in reading Tom Clancy novels. It's a real shame, too, as I thought Clancy's previous one, Debt of Honor, had an inventive set-up (necessary, as the Cold War ended too soon for the man) and a plot that kept things humming along entertainingly. Yet the end
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of that novel saw a contrived situation that set up the stage for this one, with Clancy's main protagonist/avatar now President of the United States. This gave Clancy an opportunity to sound off on American politics, a field which he demonstrates far less command than that of the military hardware that were a distinguishing hallmark of his previous novels. Moreover, Ryan is now completely detached from the action, which means large stretches of the novel are consumed with Clancy's attempts to write a political thriller, an area where he demonstrates far less skill than he did as an action novelist. By the end of it, I was through with Clancy, wishing only that I had stopped reading his books at the previous novel so I could have maintained a better opinion of the author than I have now.
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LibraryThing member murderbydeath
Given my current country of residence's complete incompetence and the news that my native land is trying to be the world leader in everything including incompetence, I needed to escape to a world where real problems are met and dealt with by leaders with integrity and the skills to think through
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issues rationally with a view towards the long-term.

In other words, a fantasy.

I have always been and will always be, an unapologetic fan of Clancy's works - the ones he wrote himself - so falling back into Jack Ryan's world was, if not a comfort, at least familiar and comfortable. It's been 2 decades since I last read this, and it generally holds up perfectly. The first half of the book is a bit overly idealistic, but what struck me about it is that Tom Clancy showed a startling degree of prescience not just in some of his major plot lines, but in his story arc.

Executive Orders is the story about a non-politician ending up as President of the United States, vowing to eject the political riff-raff out of Washington, and appointing business sector executives to the cabinet to get things done.

Sound familiar? Of course, Jack Ryan wasn't a paranoid narcissist and he was highly educated and qualified regardless of his lack of political savvy. He also had more integrity than your garden variety black widow spider. But Clancy imagined the world we live in today twenty years ago, with startling accuracy, albeit in the most idealistic light.

His idealism extended to America's response (and only America because his plot extended no further) to the epidemic that grips the country in Executive Orders; his national lockdown works flawlessly; almost nobody ignores the mandate, there are no rushes on grocery stores, and there's no general panic. Of course, I'd like to think that any country's population would react to an epidemic of ebola exponentially better than they're reacting (or not) to the corona pandemic, so maybe my faith in humanity hasn't been completely snuffed out.

Either way, it was good to revisit a world that works, even when everything is pear-shaped.
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LibraryThing member buffalogr
Technology dated. Well researched, mix of national and tactical, DC and international. Iran inspired bio attack. God I listened to the abridged version...good story
LibraryThing member JamesBanzer
Events laid out by famous author Tom Clancy in Executive Orders could indeed have been the work of a journalist. That's the feeling you get from reading the words of this man who was undoubtedly one of the sharpest literary wits of his time.

Star character, President Jack Ryan, had not aspired to
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become leader of the United States. He was propelled into that position by a tragic suicide attack on the U.S. Capitol. The jumbo jet crash killed not only President Roger Durling, but also almost anyone else who was of any major significance in government. Ryan immediately assumed the leadership role of a nation in crisis.

One of many twists and turns in the book relates to an outbreak of Ebola. It didn't come naturally. The death-dealing outbreak of disease was unleashed in major cities across the nation. The dreaded virus was spread on the orders of the leader of the recently formed United Islamic Republic. Iran and Iraq had become united as a single country. It wasn't long after the first cases of Ebola in the United States started being reported before experts correctly surmised that the outbreak was the result of an enemy attack.

The First Lady is employed at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where she is an eye surgeon. She comes close to the Ebola story in that capacity. She is whisked off to her daily work by helicopter.

There are three young children in the White House, one of whom is a preschooler. You're kept on pins and needles when this youngest child of President Ryan is targeted by terrorists who swoop in on the Giant Steps Day Care Center. Heroic efforts are taken to protect the child. There is much gunfire. Things become very bloody.

War erupts in the Persian Gulf region near the end of this long yarn. President Ryan is personally moved by news of the first deaths of American personnel. The new president is faced with the unenviable personal task of writing letters to survivors of soldiers killed in this outbreak of hostilities. This is a war that has no match to previous ones that have occurred throughout history. Very precise enemy targeting is made possible by global positioning system technology. Individual war battles are very short in duration. Because of the fuel and ammunition carried by modern military tanks, the targeted vehicles can burn for days on end.

Dated references that give clue to the time frame in which the novel was written. One of the people called upon by President Ryan when he appears before the press corps is simply referred to as Helen, an obvious allusion to the late Helen Thomas, the long-time White House journalist who died in 2013. The hardcover edition of the book appeared in 1996. There are mentions of the Rolodex, which was an office tool used to keep phone numbers on file for quick and easy reference. I understand that some people still use this device. Close office friends of mine are certainly not among them. The book is continues to be available at Amazon, and I suspect that this fascinating work by the brilliant Tom Clancy will continue to be on the market for a very long time to come. It's hard to believe that he's been gone for almost a decade.
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Putnam (1996), Edition: 1st, 874 pages

Original publication date





0399142185 / 9780399142185


Original language

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