The Hunt for Red October

by Tom Clancy

Paperback, 2010

Call number




Berkley (2010), Edition: Reprint, 656 pages


The Soviets' new ballistic-missile submarine is attempting to defect to the United States, but the Soviet Atlantic fleet has been ordered to find and destroy her at all costs. Can Red October reach the U.S. safely?

User reviews

LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
In Clancy you're not going to get an elegant prose style or characters with any depth. I know that. But I give the book top marks for what it is--a well-paced, gripping nautical adventure tale with a wealth of technical detail that makes you feel like you have a privileged glimpse into the workings
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of the military and intelligence communities. This is my favorite Clancy book, in my opinion the best of the first half-dozen or so novels he published before I gave up on him. The Hunt for Red October is hardly short, but I found it gripping and was never bored--I found a lot of Clancy's later books bloated, and to me Jack Ryan became an unbearable Marty Stu. There are hints of what's to come even in this first book. Ryan, a CIA analyst, is depicted as independently wealthy from a brief time working in the stock market, and he's been knighted by the British for saving two people from terrorists. (In the later Patriot Games we learn the couple was the Prince and Princess of Wales!) In this book though, Ryan's still something close to human and relatable. And in any case, the character who is the real hero of this book is Soviet submariner Marko Ramus, captain of Red October, who is defecting to the West and taking his nuclear missile sub with him. As a fan of tales of ships from Star Trek to Horatio Hornblower, I found this novel an irresistible read that entertained me from beginning to end.
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LibraryThing member atimco
Military/political books are not usually on my reading menu. I don't like politics (probably because I either have very strong convictions that cause rows, or I simply don't know what to think on whatever issue), and this story is saturated with political maneuvering and posturing. But Clancy is
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such a well-known name, and has so many books out... after awhile, seeing them at every library booksale makes you wonder if you're missing out on something. Add to that a few recommendations from friends online, and you have a recipe for wisewoman to read something way off the radar.

I surprised myself by somewhat enjoying it, too. Oh sure, there are tons of military acronyms and terms that flew right over my head (and under it, too, in the case of submarines), but Clancy does try to explain things without becoming too cumbersome. A friend of mine who has been in the armed forces and who enjoys Clancy's books recommended that I read with Wikipedia standing by to help with the more obscure terms, but I'm just not that motivated. I don't know if looking things up would have improved my experience or if it would have bored me.

There were some slow parts in the book where it seemed nothing much was happening except complicated explanations of submarine history and warfare. And there are a lot of minor characters. It's hard to know who to bother remembering for future reference and who it's safe to forget. But once you get the main people down, it's not too bad. I enjoyed getting into the heads of submarine commanders. I confess it's not an occupation I've given much thought.

The movie version starring Sean Connery is also fairly good, though I did catch myself thinking there's a lot of setup and dialogue, with much less action than you might expect in such a film. The film does streamline the original story quite a bit.

Overall, I found the book a worthwhile read, but I don't think I'll be rushing out to buy more Clancy books. If they fall serendipitously into my bag at a library booksale, that's quite another matter. This won't be a favorite of mine, but it was tolerably entertaining, and I'm glad to have read it.
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LibraryThing member mausergem
Marko Ramius, a senior USSR submarine captain, is unhappy with his government after his wife's death and decides to defect to America along with his submarine , Red October. The Russians find it out and send their entire navy fleet of shops and submarines to hunt him down. The Americans guess
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Ramius' intention and try to help him and succeed.

The novel reads like an itinerary of the American military prowess. A serious joke of a book.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
In spite of all the technological information buried in among the action, the story clips right along. Mr. Clancy approaches the story from a multitude of viewpoints - taking the reader from the Russian submarine to the CIA to various battleships to the Kremlin. Many of the scenes are short, making
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for a feeling of quick reading. One point of interest, reading in 2010, is how outdated the technology is. In addition, the world has changed politically so that a younger generation would find this novel to be more of historical interest in terms of what the Cold War used to be. Still, an enjoyable read.
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LibraryThing member csayban
Any novel that in its wake produces an entire new genre and turns the author into one of the best-selling authors of all time must be viewed as one of the great stories written. The Cold War is long since over and it is still a gripping read. The art-book crowd might poo poo on this book, but
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fiction is about storytelling and Clancy tells a story in a way that had not been successful prior to this. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, than the long list of techno-thriller writers are a testament to how powerful this book really was.
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LibraryThing member AresofAmbition
Captain Marko Ramius, the most brilliant commander of the Soviet Navy has made a fateful decision: he orders the Red October, the largest and most powerful submarine in the world with the power to wipe out hundreds of cities at once before silently submerging beneath the water without a trace, on a
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course towards the United States. Soviets insist that Ramius is mentally insane and attempts to fire his nuclear warheads on the United States, but maverick CIA agent Jack Ryan is convinced that Ramius is attempting to defect.

This book is excellent at capturing the threat of nuclear armageddon that cast a dark shadow on Americans and Soviets alike throughout the latter half of the 20th century. I recommend this novel to anyone who is interested in the Cold War. The in-depth analysis of of the US Navy, CIA, and submarine technology of the US and Soviet fleets might bore some readers, but you will be hardpressed to find any novel that captures these more realistically. The Pentagon itself has commended Tom Clancy for his accurate depiction of the US Navy, and has agreed to help research every novel Clancy has written since.

Captain Marko Ramius is arguably the novel's main character as well as it's most interesting character. He is the person who is at the center of every plot twist the novel takes, and it is his actions that dictate the pace of the story. Captain Bart Mancuso, the no-nonsense yet likeable commanding officer of the USS Dallas, a US attack submarine, makes for a worthy foe for Ramius in the novel, as Jack Ryan, the lone CIA agent convinced of his idea, acts as the go-between the reader and the other characters. Despite him being surrounded constantly by the upper echelons of the US Government, he is never seems to fit in, which makes him more relatable in the eye of the reader.

The action is unique, and Clancy succeeds in creating great tension in an ultimate clash of submarines at the climax of the novel, a feat that is very difficult to accomplish.
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LibraryThing member mtinsley
This was truly an excellent book. Like all the Clancy novels, it has the perfect mix of tension, action, politics, and heavy detail that I thoroughly enjoy reading. The Hunt for Red October is a novel written from Clancy's basic structure of Jack Ryan. A man who, “lives on the edge,” who
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doesn't listen to his boss, who talks too much, and how makes the kind of decisions that in real life would get one killed. It is fantastic. I love the importance to everything. Looking back, there is foreshadowing everywhere. Finishing the entire book, and then going back makes it almost as if it's been highlighted. For instance, the saboteur, he points him out with a red arrow on his head for crying out loud! You'd never know it though, until you've gotten to that point in the plot line. I love being able to remember minute details I noticed before finishing the book, and then feeling like a spy when I realize my intuitions were right. Even though I've never been in a situation like that, nor have I met any person that mimics any these characters, I still feel like saying, “Ha! I knew it was you all along!” when I do finally get to the last page. It is disappointing, however, knowing that there is a successor to this novel while you're reading it. I say that because as a reader, one knows it has to end well, if nothing else because the character is still alive in the following novel. That being said, it is still one heck of an adventure!
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LibraryThing member Doondeck
Still the best Clancy book
LibraryThing member subguy
Mr. Clancy struck gold with Hunt for Red October! Jack Ryan became a household name after this book hit the streets. The modern Cold War suspense drama is packed with action as the Top Secret Soviet submarine is being hunted by the Americans as well as the USSR's forces. The book is better than the
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movie and the movie is good!
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LibraryThing member ccookie
First lines:
~Captain First Rank Marko Ramius of the Soviet Navy was dressed for the Arctic conditions normal to the Northern Fleet submarine base at Polyarny~

I don't know how realistic this book is but it certainly seems to be a realistic depiction of what life might be on a nuclear submarine. The
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tension of the chase, the espionage, the creativity of how to deal with 'keeping a Russian submarine' that a defector has brought to the American shore was really, really amazing.

Having said all that, I think that I liked the movie better than the book. And it takes a lot for me to say that I liked a movie better. I almost always like the book best.

I have not read anything else by Tom Clancy but perhaps I will pick up another. He really seems to know what he is doing!
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LibraryThing member mherman4
Excellent Book. A good representation of the Cold War struggle between the Soviet Union and United States.
LibraryThing member scoutmomskf
It has been a long time since I last read this book, but it was still as gripping a tale as ever. The idea of a Soviet submarine crew defecting to the US and taking their sub along with them was an intriguing idea. Staring the story from Captain Ramius's point of view was an excellent way to set
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the hook. I loved getting a glimpse of what motivated him to do such a thing and an idea of what he was up against.

Next up was the addition of the American side of things. First, the American submarines tasked with keeping an eye on the Russian subs, tracking them and noting their capabilities. The first inkling of the difficulties tracing this sub comes when the Russian sub "disappears" from their scopes. The questions continue as Jack Ryan travels to CIA headquarters with clandestine photos taken of the Red October and a plan to get some answers. The intensity ramps up when the CIA receives word that Ramius is trying to defect, and the whole Russian navy is out to stop him.

The cat and mouse game kept me glued to the pages in spite of the fact I knew how it turns out. Each time I read it, I seem to pick up something new or am reminded of something I forgot. Jack's discomfort with being a "field agent" is evident, but he is determined to succeed. I loved seeing how his mind worked as he tried to anticipate Ramius's moves. Ramius's determination to avoid detection by both Russian and American subs kept everyone on their toes. My favorite parts are the ones with the sonarman, Jonesy, from the sub Dallas. I love his humor, his intensity, and his dogged determination.

The tension ramped up as all the moving parts came together to hide the defection of the Red October. But just when it looked like all was well, an unexpected player entered the game. The intensity of this part, with the difficulties posed by rules of engagement and the need to not start a war, had me on the edge of my seat until it was all over.

One of my favorite things about this book was after Ryan and the men from the Dallas joined Ramius on the Red October. Seeing these men, who had been enemies for so long learn about each other and see the similarities is a lesson that everyone should pay attention to. I especially liked seeing Jonesy and his Russian counterpart.

The author has an incredible talent for description that frequently made me feel as though I were right in the middle of the action. The descriptions of life onboard a submarine were especially vivid and often made me very happy I could look out a window while I was reading.
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LibraryThing member Choccy
“Somewhere under the Atlantic, a Soviet sub commander has just made a fateful decision. The Red October is heading West. The Americans want her. The Soviet want her back. And the most incredible chase in history is on….”

Ah, one of my favorite authors of all time. The incredible Mr. Clancy. I
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loveee political-military-espionage-techno-thrillers! And Clancy is definitely the man for it. I’ve fallen in love with his works since years ago, been collecting them, until now he sells more books to me compared with other authors. Well, except Enid Blyton.

The Hunt for Red October is his first novel, published in 1984 (I wish I could read when I was three). It is also deemed by many as one of his best works. I fully concur.

The plot is magnificently built, the characters (besides the famous Jack Ryan) are awesome, the accuracy is so genuinely believable, and what I like most is perhaps the submarine warfare and all those stuffs. (FYI, Das Boot is one of my all time fave war movies).

“Conn, sonar, the enemy bearing is one-nine-two.”
“Preparing to fire. Flooding tubes. Outer torpedo tube doors are open.”
“Recheck firing solution!”
“Torpedoes in the water port side!”
“Left full rudder! Prepare countermeasures!”
“Brace for impact!”

Totally riveting! Breathlessly exhilarating! I bet you’ll find difficulties to put it down.

PS: The movie (starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin) is kinda good. But I still recommend the real thing, since it’s far more complex and exciting.
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LibraryThing member TadAD
Though this is number four chronologically in the series, it was the first published and probably the best to start with as it takes the time to introduce the characters in the other books.

I really enjoyed this book and the next few. However, though I was religiously picking up each book as it came
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out and reading it, I eventually realized that this was just habit and that I wasn't really enjoying the books. They became too formulaic: Jack Ryan encounters new international crisis, Jack Ryan defeats new international crisis without breaking a sweat, Jack Ryan moves one more notch up the ladder toward Supreme Grand Poobah of America.

I think stopping around Clear and Present Danger is the best.
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LibraryThing member BrendanPMyers
It was March, 1984 when I read a blurb in Time Magazine about a book that was all the buzz in Washington, D.C. Written by a sometime insurance salesman, it was a Cold War thriller about submarine cat and mouse in the Atlantic between the United States and the U.S.S.R.

What the "buzz" was about was
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the possibility that the young bureaucrat who had written the book had somehow gotten hold of classified information. Some felt the book was so detailed in its description of cutting-edge submarine technology, he had to have had inside information.

So I went down to the bookstore and bought what must have been a second or third edition hardback of the book, and remember being truly impressed by the sheer quality of the book itself. From the dustjacket to the stitching to the sheer . . . tightness of the book, it was clear Naval Institute Press put out a fine product.

The now familiar plot goes that the Soviet Union launches a new submarine named the Red October that ostensibly, because of new cavitation technology, is inaudible to Americans, thus making it a potential game-changing "first strike" weapon. A young naval commander named Jack Ryan has a theory that the commander of the new sub might very well be planning to defect to the United States, taking his sub with him.

In terms of the book, yes, the plot intrigued me, and yes, I liked the Jack Ryan character. But what had so impressed all those folks in D.C., all those details about submarine technology, those I found a little . . . boring. Just thought it was too much, is all.

When he put out his next book, Red Storm Rising, I immediately went out and bought it in hardback, brought it on a plane, tried to get into it, and just could not suspend my disbelief that there could be ANY scenario in which the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. would ever fight a conventional, non-nuclear war. I put it down not even half-read, and never read another Clancy. Enjoyed the hell out of the movies, though.

At any rate, I hadn't at all intended to leave my thoughts on this book, or on Clancy, however hearing the news today that Tom Clancy had passed, I thought I'd jot a few things down.

And of course, it turned out Tom Clancy had no special access to classified information while writing The Hunt for Red October. He simply did his homework.

RIP, Mr. Clancy. You certainly did something right.
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LibraryThing member fordj
One of the "must read" Tom Clancy books. Again, the movie was good but the book is great. Couldn't put it down.
LibraryThing member Kellswitch
This is not normally the kind of book I read as I hate political thrillers and conspiracy stories in general, but I really enjoyed this one from beginning to end. It's the only Clancy novel I own.

I found the situation believable as written, the characters believable and engaging and I found myself
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very caught up in what happened to them and caring about the outcome.

I found the technical language and naval slang used in the book very easy to follow as written and felt it added to the story without excluding someone like me who normally has no idea about things like this.
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LibraryThing member CharlesMcCain
This novel launched Tom Clancy's career and to read it is to understand why. However, like all of Clancy's novels, you have to really be interested in the technology and tactics of the weapons depicted, in this case nuclear submarines. The initial print run on the book was 5,000 copies. Someone
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gave it President Reagan for Christmas in 1983 and he walked off his helicopter at the White House and held the book up and yelled to reporters—"it's unputdownable." The book sold a million copies in hardback—unheard of then and now—and went through 21 printings.
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LibraryThing member Mendoza
As someone who grew up during the cold war I appreciate the suspense and dread of the possibilities of this novel - at the time it was written.

Clancy singlhandedly made me grow to enjoy the whole military government espionage genre. The Hunt For Red October is one of my favourite.

Somewhere under
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the Atlantic, a Soviet sub commander has just made a fateful decision: the Red October is heading west. The Americans want her. The Russians want her back. And the most incredible chase in history is on....

THis is a non stop adventure ride filled with suspense. As enjoyable read now as much as it was over 20 years ago.
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LibraryThing member
Clancy's best, I would probably like this even if I reread it today.
LibraryThing member jpsnow
Perhaps it's because I already knew the (rather different) story, but this wasn't as gripping as some of his later works. The writing was less formulaic and it does introduce the characters for further development in Jack Ryan's world.
LibraryThing member MrsLee
It's been years since I've read this, but I remember it as compelling, interesting and impossible to put down.
LibraryThing member benfulton
The first of the great thriller novels that make an attempt to have highly authentic descriptions of the relevant technology.

I always have a feeling when I pick up a Clancy that at some point he went to someone in the military and said, "What's your nightmare scenario?" and then picked and poked
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out all the little details to figure out exactly how the scenario might play itself out, which is how you get nuclear explosions at the Super Bowl or planes flying into the White House. Maybe the question that was the genesis of this book was more like, "What's your dream scenario?", because if you asked this of a sub commander, wouldn't it be to get your hands on the latest Soviet technology for a really good going over? Not to mention the skipper of the ship itself.

But again, the real draw is the descriptions of the technology. The way the sonar man first finds the sub; operations on board fighter jets and destroyers; all of it rings with such authenticity that you feel you're really there and that these guys are really pros.

What you lose for this, of course, is that the characters are way underdrawn. Offhand I can think of exactly one highly-placed member of the military in a Clancy who was a jerk - surely there are more in real life - and the rest all appear to be more or less supermen.

But that's ok, there are other books to read if you want Insight Into The Human Condition. Read this one for the action and suspense, because it's a page turner. Don't be surprised if you stay up way later than you planned to finish it. I did.
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LibraryThing member LouieLouie
Never really planned on reading Clancy, but my sister gave it to me to read while visiting and I have to say I'm 80 pages in and pretty hooked. Saw the movie but don't remember much about it except Sean Connery wore a wig and I didn't buy him as a Russian sub commander.
LibraryThing member RicDay
The best book on submarine warfare since Run Silent, Run Deep




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