A book about a seasonal submarine search...
The skipper is totally a Scottish Lithuanian.
Back when I was a kid, busy caring about important things like Transformers, Ninja Turtles, and Dino-Riders, my dad was into war movies, because he was always a huge boomer. I remember hearing about THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER a lot because he dug the movie.
In his defense, it had a stacked cast. Connery, Scott Glenn, Sam Neill, James Earl Jones, Tim Curry, Stellan Skarsgaard, Jeffrey Jones, Fred Thompson…and that one guy who shot and killed a woman because he ignored basic gun safety rules on set…
Anyway. Heck of a movie, right? It was based on a book. This is a review of that book. That audiobook, specifically. The one I listened to wasn’t narrated by J. Charles, it was by Scott Brick. Who isn’t bad, I just find him to be a weird fit for a lot of the books he’s narrated. His voice is hard to describe, it’s just never what I imagine for the text in question. But I digress.
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Basic plot: the Cold War is on, and a Soviet submarine captain wants to defect to the West. He’s in charge of a billion-dollar super stealth submarine with many nukes aboard. The CIA and the Kremlin are trying to play nice in real-time as they figure out the sub’s intentions, and how to contact it, all whilst lying to each other in the form of diplomacy.
CIA analyst Jack Ryan cracks the sub’s intentions though, when he’s the first to realize Captain Ramius wants to defect. Why? Ramius is Lithuanian, not Russian, which makes him technically “Soviet” but he’s from a bloc nation and not the Motherland.
Even more important—and the book covers this much better than the movie—is his Christian upbringing. His family told him Bible stories, and he learned righteous values over Leninist principles. He kept them secret his whole life, ascending to the top of the Soviet Navy until he was perfectly positioned to strike.
The lynchpin to his motivation was the death of his wife, who had a survivable case of appendicitis, but the surgeon who showed up to give her an appendectomy was drunk. He botched the operation and she died.
Nobody was held accountable for her death because those responsible were all connected to the Soviet political machine, through family connections and the like. If only there were some present-day American equivalent of this, idk man, scratching my head.
Anyway, I really liked Ramius as a character. Jack Ryan is fine, if a little milquetoast. He has admirable qualities for a protagonist, and that’s important. I’ll read another of those books. I’ve read PATRIOT GAMES and didn’t get into it, also tried RED RABBIT which was another case of “interesting concept but the book is boring.”
However I’m at the age now where stuff that used to be boring is kinda cool. I have an expanded knowledge base that makes the stories work for me. Plus, Clancy was kind of the first guy to really kick off the political espionage military thriller genre. Hat-tip to the pioneers, baby. This was a good book.