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📚🛥️ Commander in Chief by Mark Greaney

Not a Book Report

I enjoy reflecting on the movies, TV, books and other media that I consume. I’m notoriously sentimental. This series documents the books that I read. These aren’t reviews or recommendations. Just a list. For me. Mostly so that I can page through what I read, where I was, and when.

Why did I read it?

I picked up a Tom Clancy book in the Stockholm Central train station a couple months ago and it made me remember how fun these can be. So I rewound in the series by about a decade and picked up at Book 10 in the run. I have been spending a lot of time wading through some complex, but interesting, challenges at the office - all good problems, but the kinds of things that leave me beat at the end of the day and ready to jump into a novel about spies and special forces for 30 minutes before I fall asleep.

What is it?

Category Value
Title Tom Clancy Commander in Chief
Author Mark Greaney
Year Published 2015
Format Kindle
Pages 726

Publisher Summary

When Russian President Valeri Volodin’s ambitions are foiled in Dagestan, he faces a difficult choice. The oligarchs who support him expect a constant flow of graft, but with energy prices cratering, the Russian economy sputters to a virtual halt. Unable to grow the Russian market at home, his hold on power relies on expansion abroad—a plan that has been thwarted by the United States in the past.

But this time Volodin has determined that an indirect approach is the best. A floating natural gas facility in Lithuania is blown up. A Venezuelan prosecutor is assassinated. A devastating attack on a Russian troop train kills dozens. A chaotic world is the best camouflage for a series of seemingly unrelated attacks.

Only one man recognizes an ominous pattern in the reports of terror from around the globe. U.S. President Jack Ryan sees a guiding hand in the worldwide chaos, but before he can act he needs proof.

While his intelligence agencies race to uncover the truth behind the attacks, the President struggles to unite a fractious and distrustful coalition of Western nations against the schemes of the Russian dictator.

With five thousand Russian troops poised to invade a NATO nation, can Jack Ryan move swiftly enough to stop Volodin’s grand plan of global conflict and conquest? Or will he succeed in changing the balance of world power forever?

How did I read it?

Category Value
Date Started November 6, 2023
Date Finished December 27, 2023
Places Read Lisbon, Madrid, Sintra

Notes - No Spoilers

  • The book’s thinly veiled Putin stand-in is a Russian dictator determined to take advantage of a weakened NATO by exploiting energy prices so that he can launch a ground invasion of a former member of the Soviet Union on his border.
  • This sounds familiar, and almost prophetic for something written in 2015, until you remember that the invasion of Ukraine started in 2014. As an American or European, it is easy to think about that event as a “recent” thing in the last two years, but the theme started prior to the publication.
  • Not to say that there aren’t plot points that feel eerily similar to our world. In the alternate timeline of the Jack Ryan universe the Russians also invade Ukraine in 2014, though in a manner more similar to the second phase of the invasion in 2022 in the real world. By 2015, in their universe, the war had become a protracted stalemate along the Dnieper River… The Ukrainian military held off the invasion after Jack Ryan’s USA helped arm them, in particular with supplies of antitank missiles…
  • Also eerie - not in Ukraine, but in Lithuania, the Russians attempt a special ops ground assault to capture an airport ahead of airborne troops landing but it is pushed back and foiled by local infantry.
  • This book features Russian submarines prominently and does have a funny callback to The Hunt for Red October and Jack Ryan’s stint on a Russian sub. Most of the later era Jack Ryan novels avoid those kinds of Easter eggs.
  • Mission Impossible exists in this universe and they make a joke about how impossible a particular plan is by invoking the film!
  • Again, as always, the hardest part about the suspension of belief here is that the President’s son not only works in a shadow government clandestine agency but that he routinely is allowed to engage in covert missions where bad guys shoot at him and he kills several of them.
  • The plot line about the brother-sister Dutch assassins felt oddly out of place here. Characters that could have been more interesting in a “street level” caper whereas this particular entry felt very high-level and global.

Published Dec 27, 2023

Austinite in Lisbon. VP of Product at Cloudflare.