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Author of 'The Hunt for Red October' Tom Clancy dies at 66

US author Tom Clancy, whose spy and military thrillers became worldwide best-sellers and inspired several Hollywood hit films, has died, his New York publisher said Wednesday. He was 66. 

His more than 25 fiction and non-fiction books included his 1984 novel "The Hunt for Red October" as well as "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger." His protagonist in several of these novels -- Jack Ryan -- was played by Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck in Hollywood films.

"He was a consummate author, creating the modern-day thriller, and was one of the most visionary storytellers of our time," said Penguin Group executive David Shanks in a statement.

Tom Clancy
Best-selling author Tom Clancy smiles as he wears a Minnesota Vikings jacket. File Pic

"I will miss him dearly and he will be missed by tens of millions of readers worldwide,? added Shanks, who was involved in the publication of all of Clancy's works.

The Baltimore Sun newspaper said Clancy, a Maryland native, died Tuesday "after a brief illness" at the city's Johns Hopkins hospital.

Clancy set his novels in the context of the Cold War and its aftermath, focusing on espionage and military science with rich attention to technical detail.

"The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense," he once said.

Ivan Held, president of Penguin imprint Putnam's, said that publishing a Clancy book was "a thrill every time."

"He was ahead of the news curve and sometimes frighteningly prescient," Held said.

Beyond the realm of books, Clancy licensed his name to a series of successful video games such as "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist," released in August by Ubisoft.

An avowed Republican, Clancy was also a co-owner of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team.

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