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Tag: The Hunt for Red October (Page 1 of 3)


Cavalier – casual; lighthearted; showing a lack of proper concern

“Mancuso frowned at his chart, nervous at being forced to pilot the massive submarine in so cavalier a manner.”

The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy


Temporize – to be indecisive or evasive to gain time or delay acting; to treat or parley so as to gain time

“So,” he said, checking traffic on Pennsylvania Avenue before making a left turn.

“So, the meeting went exactly as I had predicted, and now we can be absolutely certain why they are kidnapping our men,” Arbatov replied.

“And that is, Comrade Ambassador?” the driver prompted. He did not let his irritation show. Only a few years before this Party hack would nor have dared temporize with a senior KGB officer.

A Senior KGB Officer and Ambassador Arbatov, The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy


Putative – commonly regarded as such; reputed

“[T]he Red October‘s crewmen met with American sailors, some of whom were Russian-speaking officers disguised as enlisted men, others of whom were Russian language specialists in the enlisted rates flown out jus as the last load of Soviets had arrived aboard. The fact that they were aboard a putatively hostile vessel and had found friendly Russian-speaking men had been overpowering for many of the young conscripts.”

The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy

Crazy Ivans, Bows, and Sterns

“The exact number of collisions that had occurred between Soviet and American submarines was a closely guarded secret; that there had been such collisions was not. One characteristically Russian tactic for forcing Americans to keep their distance was a stylized turn called the Crazy Ivan in the U.S. Navy.”

The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy

When the American submarine USS Dallas found Red October, they began to follow the Russian sub as quietly as possible. Rather than backing away, the captain opted to stay close. Every few hours, Red October would begin a full turn, dubbed by the U.S. Navy the Crazy Ivan. Captain Mancuso of the Dallas stayed close to Red October so that the Russian sonar could not pick up them up. In one of the turns, the two subs were only about a hundred fifty years from each other. A very dangerous position. And a very exciting part of the book!

I decided during this description of the Crazy Ivan that I needed to become familiar with naval directional terms. While these terms had been used several times before, I could better understand a Crazy Ivan by knowing the terms for myself.

Bow – the forward end of a vessel or airship

Stern – the after part of a vessel; the back or rear of anything

Aft – at, close to, or toward the stern of a ship or tail of an aircraft

Starboard – the right-hand side of or direction from a vessel or aircraft, facing forward

Port – the left-hand side of or a vessel or aircraft, facing forward


Acuity – sharpness, acuteness, keenness

“He saw and heard everything with great acuity, as though someone had taken sandpaper to all his senses to make him fantastically alert.”

Jack Ryan, The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy

I Finished The Hunt for Red October

I am sitting here trying to think of words to describe to you just how great this novel was, but I am at a loss. I finished it last night, and all I can say is Wow!

It took me about three months to complete the 387 page book because life gets crazy. Sometimes I just don’t have the time to read. But now I’ve finished, and it feels like a great accomplishment.

I was first introduced to the story of The Hunt for Red October when I watched the 1990 movie with Sean Connery. That was several years ago, and though I’ve seen the movie many times since, I only recently realized that it was based on a book. I found my lovely hardcover for sale on social media. I met the previous owner at a Burger King and bought it from him. Then, I left it on my shelf for about seven years. Last October, I decided it would be a great addition to the blog, so I began to read.

The story is thrilling! The action is broken into eighteen chapters, each chapter representing one day. Day one begins with the celebrated maiden voyage of the newest of Soviet submarines, the Red October. Captain Marko Ramius and a group of hand-picked officers lead a crew of about a hundred into icy waters to test the newest Russian technology: an almost silent propeller system called the caterpillar that uses ocean water for movement. However, once in the water, Ramius cuts all radio communication and disappears into the Atlantic Ocean. The Russians send almost their whole Navy to search for the missing submarine. The story the Russians tell the United States is that their Navy is on a search and rescue mission – none of the vessels are hostile toward the U.S. Actually, the Russian Navy’s orders are to find and destroy the Red October.

CIA analyst Jack Ryan enters the action with intelligence from the British about the new Russian technology, though it takes a few days to actually figure out what that technology is. When news that the Red October has vanished reaches Washington, Ryan begins to research the life of Captain Ramius and his position in the Soviet Navy. What is Captain Ramius planning? Ryan concludes that the Soviet Naval officer intends to defect, but he has to convince the CIA, the US Navy, and the United States President that he’s correct. Though they are skeptical at first, they begin to make plans to find the missing submarine and bring it back to America if they can.

The Hunt for Red October is a technical novel, and there are moments when it feels like the action stalls while technicals are explained. But even the technical parts draw the reader in, building suspense until suddenly you see exactly what was going on. In my opinion, the best example of this is when the Soviet submarine E.S. Politovskiy is introduced. Clancy chooses that chapter to explain some of the inner workings of nuclear submarines, especially the reactor and the cooling system. For me, it was very technical, and at first, I struggled to understand the connection to the actual storyline. The only connection I saw was that the Red October was also a nuclear submarine and had the same reactor and cooling system. Then, suspense began to build when the engineer and political officer aboard E.S. Politovskiy disagree about stopping the sub for repairs. The engineer argues that repairs will only take a few hours. The political officer demands that the submarine continue at her current full speed ahead because orders from Moscow were to reach the American coast ASAP. Eventually, the captain sides with the political officer, pushing E.S. Politovskiy at full speed across the Atlantic Ocean without stopping for repairs. Then, Clancy takes the reader on a tour inside the cooling pipes of the nuclear submarine. We watch as a small piece of metal breaks, flows down the pipes, and eventually gets stuck, blocking the flow of cooling water. Though the pipes are blocked only a few seconds, that’s all that is needed to cause a reaction and a backward flow in the pipes. The reactor fails and overheats. The side of E.S. Politovskiy is blown out, and the submarine sinks to the bottom of the ocean. The scene was intense and finally reaches a somber conclusion when E.S. Politovskiy sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

And that event is just one chapter in the book. In the middle of the book, no less. That is when the story starts to move faster. The last few chapters are packed with action, secrets, intrigue, and just a little seasickness for Jack Ryan. Plans go awry. An accident forces Ryan to be the first American to confront Captain Ramius. There is a gunfight. There’s a battle of wits between two submarine captains – underwater, of course. And if I say any more, I will give away the ending, which is one of the best conclusions for a novel I have ever read.

If you enjoy action, even with the technical jargon mixed in, I highly recommend The Hunt for Red October. If you enjoy a sprinkle of politics, some CIA shenanigans, and a fiction that feels real, I recommend The Hunt for Red October. You will not be disappointed.

Ryan on Freedom

“Ryan was watching something he had never seen before, men from two different places and two very different cultures trying to find common ground. Both sides were reaching out, seeking similarities of character and experience, building a foundation for understanding. This was more than interesting. It was touching. Ryan wondered how difficult it was for the Soviets. Probably harder than anything he had ever done – their bridges were burned. They had cast themselves away from everything they had known, trusting that what they found would be better. Ryan hoped they would succeed and make their transition from Communism to freedom. In the past two days he had come to realize what courage it took for men to defect. Facing a gun in a missile room was a small matter compared with walking away from one’s whole life. It was strange how easily Americans put on their freedoms. How difficult would it be for these men who had risked their lives to adapt to something that men like Ryan so rarely appreciated? It was people like these who had built the American Dream, and people like these who were needed to maintain it. It was odd that such men should come from the Soviet Union. Or perhaps not so odd, Ryan thought, listening to the conversation going back and forth in front of him.”

Jack Ryan, The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy


Bailiwick – a person’s area of skill, knowledge, or authority

“The law of the sea is your bailiwick, not mine,” General Barnes, the air force chief of staff, commented. “But from where I sit doing that cold be called anything from piracy to an overt act of war. Isn’t this exercise complicated enough already?”

General Barnes, The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy

Jack Ryan’s Quantico Training

“At Quantico he was taught to read maps, evaluate terrain, call in air and artillery strikes, maneuver his squads and fire teams with skill – and here he was, stuck in a … steel pipe three hundred feet under water, shooting it out with pistols in a room with two hundred hydrogen bombs!”

Jack Ryan, The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy

Ryan on Political Education

“What about political education?” Kamarov asked.
Ryan laughed. “Lieutenant, somewhere along the line somebody will take you aside to explain how our country works. That will take about two hours. After that you can immediately tell us what we do wrong – everybody else in the world does, why shouldn’t you? But I can’t do that now. Believe this, you will love it, probably more than I do. I have never lived in a country that was not free, and maybe I don’t appreciate my home as much as I should. For the moment, I suppose you have work to do.”

Lieutenant Kamarov and Jack Ryan, The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy
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