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Tom Clancy’s novels work with the satisfying precision of the war machines they are set among. In his first, The Hunt for Red October, the workings of the eponymous Soviet submarine are described in the kind of detail Robin Cook provided readers of the human body in Coma. CIA analyst Jack Ryan makes his debut, leading the race to locate the missing nuclear vessel whose captain wants to defect. Ryan would star in 32 more Clancy books, and an eponymous Amazon series starring John Krasinski, driving a $100 million publishing empire that began with the sale of Hunt for $5,000 to the Naval Institute Press, which published it in 1984. What President Ronald Reagan called “the perfect yarn” also became a 1990 movie starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin, and three video games. —Karl Vick

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