This fall marks the 30th anniversary of the Naval Institute Press’s first novel, The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. It put the Press on the map, led to a successful movie, and was the making of a superstar career for Clancy, who died last year at age 66.
Before he was famous, Clancy ran an insurance agency in southern Maryland, not far from the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant. Nearsightedness was a problem for years, the reason for thick eyeglasses and the condition that prevented him from serving in the military. What he did possess was a sponge-like mind for details of military hardware. Many of his insurance clients were former nuclear submariners—officer and enlisted—and he picked their brains.