Tom Clancy, best-selling Cold War era writer, dies suddenly at 66. (Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images)

Tom Clancy, best-selling Cold War era writer, dies suddenly at 66. (Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images)

Tom Clancy, whose books, such as “The Hunt for Red October” and “Patriot Games,” heralded the supremacy of the United States military and its use of high-tech weaponry, has died after a brief illness. He was 66.

Clancy, who abandoned a dead-end job as an insurance salesman to try his hand at writing novels with no formal training, soared to the top of the bestseller lists with his first book in 1984 about a rogue Russian submarine commander.

“The Hunt for Red October” was the first of 20 books all with military or espionage themes. His final books were “The Sum of All Fears,” “Rainbow Six” and yet-to-be published “Command Authority.” –

Spies, soldiers, politicians and tense drama were themes in all of his works. He burst onto the scene at a time when the U.S. military was looked down on after its 10-year war in Vietnam had ended in a bloody stalemate.

In contrast, he portrayed the military as a smartly run organization and hailed U.S. intelligence agencies for the prowess and command of technology. It was just the right prescription for an era herald as a “new morning in America” by Ronald Reagan.

The last of the Cold War presidents made rebuilding the nation’s military might a top priority and Clancy became its chronicler in fiction.

His books became the source for a number of films starring Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and others. His characters were smart and brave with steely determination.

Clancy, a heavy smoker, died at Johns Hopkins Hospital after a brief illness, according to The Baltimore Sun. No other details were immediately available.

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