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Defending Tom Clancy

October 09, 1988

It was interesting to observe the care with which reviewer Jack Miles belabored Tom Clancy's "The Cardinal of the Kremlin" (Book Review, Aug. 14). At one point Miles writes that "the most (Clancy) has given his readers . . . is a conventional hunter-and-hunted spy novel." At another point he writes: " 'The Cardinal of the Kremlin' belongs not with spy fiction but with science-fiction." But it is not that obvious self-contradiction that should interest Miles' readers. It is, rather, his extreme care to convince his readers that although Clancy's characterization and dialogue are "surprisingly good" and "often convincing," what we should be most concerned with is Clancy's argument (in his fictitious plot) that: (1) "They're (that is, the Soviets are) ahead of us because they've spent more time and money in the most important place" and that (2) "This time, Clancy has built the SDI research budget into his plot."

Apparently, Clancy's book is, in effect, an argument that Miles wishes to refute, not because it is fictional and untrue but because the argument is true and nonfictional!

As for myself, I am happy to learn that Clancy's book is a best seller. Regrettably, it is only through fiction that truth and speculation as to what is the truth makes its occasional foray into the minds of our entertainment-bent younger generation.

WILLIAM McCAULEY

SANTA ANA

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