The Hunt for Red October

Suggested by Brad Nelson • Somewhere under the freezing Atlantic, a Soviet sub commander has just made a fateful decision. The Red October is heading west. The Americans want her. The Russians want her back. The chase for the highly advanced nuclear submarine is on.
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52 Responses to The Hunt for Red October

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’m 70% into this. It’s certainly worth a read. But, interestingly, I don’t think the movie plays second fiddle. If anything, it consolidates the action a little better.

    The middle of the novel bogs down a bit as there are serial individual military scenes being played out throughout the Atlantic. One or two of these fake strikes (meant to put the Russians in their place) would have been enough. Worthwhile are the details you get regarding the planes, their operational plans, and their capabilities. (Clancy even throws in a squadron of low-flying Warthogs.) Meanwhile, there are hints of some type of plan being hatched by the CIA and the other few who know what’s going on. But you’re pretty much left in the dark. A lot is happening but the thread of the novel is wearing thin.

    Jack Ryan, for the most part, is absent for a good third of it. The good news is that Clancy has done a tremendous amount of research for this novel. Assuming it’s mostly correct, there is even minutia nuclear reactors.

    And I don’t mind the extra detail. The information on the differences (technology and attitudes) between the Russians and the West is interesting. And there’s even some differences highlighted between the American and the Brits. I’m sure this will all come together nicely. But right now, particularly in terms of how they approach Red October, I think the movie makes more sense. The novel doesn’t. And Jack Ryan is woven much more coherently into the movie. He’s (at this point) a background actor to some extent. But I think he’s about to re-enter the picture, big-time.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    Of course, this was the first Ryan novel, and Clancy had no idea how the character would catch on with the public. There are modest differences between book and movie, some of them resulting from differences in media and some from the time it would take to do the entire book. That sort of exposition goes over better in a book than a movie. Clancy probably didn’t yet fully have the hang of writing novels, though he very close to it. I do love the final scene of the movie. (“You mean you guys lost another sub?”)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Hey, for a first novel, this is some book. No problem there. And I love some of the detail. On the Dallas he mentions the crew having a couple Apple II computers that they use for both games and training. Clancy mentions a couple of one guy’s favorites is Choplifter and Zork. I’ve never played Zork but I do have Choplifter on my Atari 800 and the 2600.

      My only complaint is the general thread of the narrative gets lost in the attempt to try to paint a “big picture” of what everyone else is doing out in the Atlantic. I would have tightened that up a bit.

      And there are (toward the middle of this) a couple pages at a time, here and there, that are just eye-rollingly dull. But overall he writes without pretension and certainly without political correctness. His style is not always smooth but the hard-nosed research that you know went into it can make up for a lot of rookie mistakes. And, goodness knows, there are authors out there who write horrible stuff in even their twelfth novel, so Clancy showed right off the bat that he was a player and hardly a rookie by any standard.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I have to say the movie “The Hunt for Red October” is almost as good as the original book. It was really too bad when the Sam Neil character was killed.

    Can you imagine how Alex Baldwin must feel now? He was on the cusp of a great run with the Jack Ryan and walked away from it for Kim Bassinger. Well, Harrison Ford says “thank you.”

    I read “The Hunt for Red October” when it was first published. I liked it immediately. Perhaps not for its literary style, but for its detail and logic. Over the next years, I also read other Clancy novels including, “Red Storm Rising”, “The Cardinal of the Kremlin” and “Debt of Honor.” For anyone who says that the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were something that one could not anticipate, I suggest he read the last book on my list.

    On a separate point, for people such as me, one of the main selling points of a novel as opposed to a movie is a novel lasts much longer. The reader gets to draw out the pleasure and step back mentally and reflect on a given point, before continuing.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I’ve read of many actors who turned down a great (in retrospect) role only to see the replacement succeed. Of course, we have no way of knowing how well they would have done in that role. Would Baldwin have made Ryan the successful character that Harrison Ford did? And sometimes they do something else just as successful. “What lies in the future is a mystery to us all. No one can predict the wheel of fortune as it falls.”

      A movie is usually around 2 hours, occasionally up to 3. Only very short novels (and they don’t do those anymore) can be read in that time (unless you’re a speed reader, of course, which I’m not).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        One wonders in the case of Baldwin if because Jack Ryan was such a wholesome, pro-American character that this made it easier for him to choose Bassinger over Ryan. Even so, Harrison Ford is one of the biggest “climate change” kooks out there. So we should (I should) remember that their profession is acting and that they can, and usually do, any role that pays.

        Still….I wonder. And why did Pierce Brosnan turn down truckfulls of money to play another Bond film? We must admit that these actors live in another universe than you and I.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      He was on the cusp of a great run with the Jack Ryan and walked away from it for Kim Bassinger. Well, Harrison Ford says “thank you.”

      I don’t know the details of him walking away. But certainly this is another case (Hollywood is full of them) of great roles being turned down. That said, maybe she was worth it. And I think Baldwin is good in “October.”

      Thanks for the recommendation of Debt of Honor. I really don’t want to read the Jack Ryan novels in order. I’ve seen the movies! So those recommendations may help.

      I’ve seen “Patriot Games,” “Clear and Present Danger,” and “The Sum of All Fears.” There have been some others such as 2014’s Shadow Recruit that I have not seen. With that background, which novel would you recommend to read after “October”? I mean, if it’s “Debt of Honor” or “Red Storm Rising,” then fine. I just don’t want to read the novels of the movies I’ve already seen.

      Yes, the books last longer. Rare is the movie that equals or even surpasses the book — or just makes the book somewhat of a moot point. I’m enjoying “The Hunt for Red October” but there is still a good slice of “been there, done that.”

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Red Storm Rising, Clancy’s second novel, doesn’t feature Jack Ryan. I suspect he just found him a convenient character to use in the next (Patriot Games, I think). After that, he found it worth focusing on Ryan.

        Incidentally, Larry Bond (co-author of Red Storm Rising) was a GOH at InConJunction once, and discussed their reactions in researching the book. (As a game designer, he also did a game of Godzilla vs. the Japanese Defense Forces in Tokyo Bay.)

        Debt of Honor is when Ryan goes from being just a CIA guy to running the whole show. All thanks to a Japanese fanatic who lost some of his family at the suicide cliffs of Saipan — and blamed the Americans for it.

        And as long as you’re doing Clancy recommendations, both books would be worth listing here.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Red Storm Rising, Clancy’s novel, doesn’t feature Jack Ryan.

          That wouldn’t matter too much to me. There’s is little about the Jack Ryan character in the “October” novel that leaves me star-struck. I think the one-legged character is more interesting.

          But put Harrison Ford in the movie role, and instantly it’s a great character.

  4. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I will respond to a couple of points in one post.

    1. We have a pretty good idea that Baldwin would have had a very successful run with the Jack Ryan character. His performance in Red October was being highly praised and the movie was very profitable. Unlike Harrison Ford, Baldwin fit the Ryan character to a t. Ford was much too old.

    2. Between “Red Storm Rising” and “Debt of Honor” I would recommend the later because of the very unusual story line and how it shows 9/11 was not something which nobody had thought of, at least the basic idea. “Red Storm Rising” was more of a demonstration of a Plan-of-Battle for war in Europe should something go wrong and the Soviets make a decision to attack through the Fulda Gap, as I recall.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I believe the idea was that they were short on basic supplies such as food, and decided to invade free Europe to steal them. At the time I read it, this was still a theoretical possibility. But it’s still a good book.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        At the time I read it, this was still a theoretical possibility.

        People have forgotten the real threat the Soviets presented to Europe in those days. I forget the exact time of the case, but sometime in the 1970s, secret Soviet plans to invade Austria and Western Europe, through Yugoslavia, came to light and caused something of an uproar.

        Here is a synopsis of one Plan which the Soviets had for conquering West Europe.

        As has long been the case, Germany is the key.

        • Steve Lancaster says:

          Our response was a plan developed in the 50s and continually updated called SIOP, (single integrated operations plan). The plan in short was that we would never allow the US to suffer a nuclear Pearl Harbor and would utilize a first strike to make sure that never happened. Curtis LeMay and SAC were central drivers in development. We still have similar plans on the books under different names.

          This not so well kept secret was part of the deterrence effort of our intelligence community. Parts of it can be seen in the movie Dr. Stranglove. Basically, its no good having an end of the world plan if the other side doesn’t know about it.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        Nope it was oil, a crisis caused by Moslem terrorists taking out an oil production facility in the Caucus. Food was a second concern that was mostly solved by allowing farmers to go free market.

    • Steve Lancaster says:

      We war gamed that for the better part of 25 years with annual exercise called REFORGER, return of forces Europe. REFORGER was started because of Vietnam demands for trained troops. I participated in the intelligence side of two exercises in 71 and 72. Had the Soviets taken it into their pointy heads to invade Europe 76, 77, or 78 would have been the time. Our land forces were in tatters as was CIA, thanks to Church Committee. Clancy got a lot of it right out of those war games, much of it not even classified. What he did not get right was the option to use tactical nukes when the Soviets crossed the border in force, no guarantee Jerry or Jimmy would have done it. Personally I doubt it, both were nice guys. To nice to be President, or a general.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I don’t recall what Clancy said of the president (Reagan at the time he wrote). I read it, probably, over 30 years ago.

        • Steve Lancaster says:

          Clancy was a big fan of Reagan. I don’t recall that he mentions who is president in Red Storm, except it defiantly was not Ford or Carter.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Had the Soviets taken it into their pointy heads to invade Europe 76, 77, or 78 would have been the time. Our land forces were in tatters as was CIA, thanks to Church Committee.

        Steve, I found “Red Storm Rising” at the online lending library so that will be my next Clancy novel if there is a next Clancy novel. But I have checked it out and will likely give it a few pages at the very least.

        What he did not get right was the option to use tactical nukes when the Soviets crossed the border in force, no guarantee Jerry or Jimmy would have done it. Personally I doubt it, both were nice guys. To nice to be President, or a general.

        That’s an interesting question. I gotta put Truman in the “would nuke” category. Eisenhower…a maybe. Kennedy a probable. Nixon a possible.

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but weapons such as the A-10 Warthog were developed, in part, so there would be an option short of nukes.

        Right now, it’s difficult to imagine spilling American blood for anyone in Europe other than the Poles, the British, and perhaps the Baltic countries. The others (including England, of course) have already let slow-motion invaders into their midst. What difference would it make if it was a fast-invasion by the Russians? And, to some extent, might they eventually be better off? These countries right now can’t defend themselves anyway — or won’t.

        • Steve Lancaster says:

          “Correct me if I’m wrong, but weapons such as the A-10 Warthog were developed, in part, so there would be an option short of nukes.”

          The A-10 was developed as part of the air-land battle concept to better integrate Army and Air Force units in combined arms. The ability to stop Soviet tanks before they got to the Fuda Gap or on the North German plains would, in theory, lessen the fallback to nukes.

          In the 70s the tactical use of the still new A-10 was considered questionable. The fallback option was always nukes and we made sure the Soviets knew it. This was not a popular option among the Germans. They only got on board with the de-facto approval of MLF. Ultimately 1/3 of all Pershing IIs in Europe would be under German control.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            When SPI produced their game NATO about a possible Soviet invasion of Germany, they included tactical nukes, which had the effect of rendering the hex they entered impassable afterward.

            They also, in a note at the end, suggested that the way to simulate strategic nuclear war would be to soak the board in lighter fluid and set fire to it. Although this was a comment rather than a rule, it was included in Murphy’s Rules.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Last night I finished “The Hunt for Red October.” In the following, there will be a few spoilers. But if you’ve seen the movie, there will be nothing major.

    The movies ends with the Red October being moved into an estuary or river. In the book, quite a bit happens afterward, although I think some of this action was incorporated into the latter part of the movie.

    In the book, they also move Red October to a river — but only temporarily. They mean to move it to an Ohio-class covered submarine pen at Norfolk. This latter move is (for those who have seen only the movie) an extensive add-on. At first, it’s a bit boring. But it does come together into a pretty good finish.

    In the movie, I think the attacking Soviet sub is cleverly maneuvered to be destroyed by its own missile (the safeties having been turned off for a close-in strike). In the book, Red October evades one of the missiles by moving close in but is struck by the other. Due to the sheer bulk of the Red October, and her batteries which are strategically placed outside the pressure hull as an extra form of armor, she easily survives the blast but is somewhat damaged.

    The Soviet Alfa-class attack submarine is finally subdued when Sean Connery rams it. It’s a size mismatch and Red October easily gets the better of the collisions.

    And while reading this book, I always have Sean Connery in mind as Marko Ramius and Scott Glenn as Bart Mancuso. With no other characters in the book is this the case. I think this is either testament to the job these actors did or to some sort of mental insanity. Oh….and I certainly always visualized Jeffrey Plet as Richard Jordan.

    One aspect of the book that makes little sense is Connery sending the letter to his superiors telling him that he is defecting. It makes little sense in the context that Connery and his co-conspirators do all they can to look good in the eyes of their crew. When the KGB questions the released crew members, they get the same story of the brave and selfless Captain Ramius.

    Granted, it was useful, and probably necessary, for Ramius to deceive his own. But this leads to the patched-on analytical ending whereby the KGB isn’t really sure what happened. Was Connery’s letter forged? Etc.

    But overall, the story was interesting and worked pretty well. More later.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      That sort of visualizing can happen. Isaac Asimov wrote a mystery called A Whiff of Death featuring a detective who might just as well have been Columbo except that the book came out a decade earlier. When I read it, I heard Columbo’s voice in my mind whenever the detective spoke.

      I suspect Ramius’s letter was a way of burning his bridge behind him. Hernan Cortez similarly burned his ships so that his men had no choice but to win or die. A lot of them died, but in the end he won.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I suspect Ramius’s letter was a way of burning his bridge behind him.

        That point came up — either between Ramius and his junior officers or speculation from one of the CIA guys. One could rightly assume that this letter was effective in this regard. Clancy notes (assuming his research is accurate) that there have been many cases of defection where the defector changed his mind. (How this defector was then treated back home can only be imagined.)

        But there still exists a big, gaping hole in the plot. Ramius was going to defect and yet by alerting the Soviet authorities to his defection he made it that much harder to connect with the Americans. The Soviets were guarding the American coast. Had he just slipped away from the war-games exercise grid that was the original plan — perhaps noting a stuck rudder or something — he would have got a very big head start and gained plausible deniability for days.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          There are a number of possible reasons for Ramius writing his defection letter to the Soviets. For example, it was also a way of making it impossible for any of his fellow defectors to change their minds.

          However, the real reason Ramius wrote the letter was that without it there would have been no Hunt for Red October.

    • Steve Lancaster says:

      Ramius blamed the Soviet State for the death of his wife. I suspect the letter was a great big middle finger to the entire communist ideology.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Ramius blamed the Soviet State for the death of his wife. I suspect the letter was a great big middle finger to the entire communist ideology.

        Oh, yes. Definitely. And it makes for an interesting plot point. But if you plan on hijacking a Soviet boomer, you’re probably better off not tipping them off.

        Certainly Clancy relates this to the confidence (over-confidence, as it turns out — the Americans easily find him) of Ramius. But, hey, it’s a movie (or book). And things don’t have to make perfect sense. And often fact is stranger than fiction anyway.

        Clancy, although incorporating many factoids, is good at keeping this book above the level of a booknocrat. It’s not just a bunch of technical jargon. He also does a good job writing about the various men and their relationships. Toward the end, his best writing involved this really odd and uncomfortable situation where Ramius lets Americans (and some Brits, I believe) onto his boat and then they kinda-sort start giving orders while always acting through Ramius as the final authority on the boat.

        I thought Clancy showed real adeptness with this part of it. And some of this has to do with the interaction of Ryan and Ramius (which the movie certainly highlights) but mostly in the novel Ryan is a grunt steering the boat and it’s the others (and later Mancuso) who are conduits for East-West relations — particularly Jonesey with his music, TV, and VCR.

        Borodin is fleshed out near the end as well, this crusty Soviet Captain (if memory serves) having a tear in his eye after having watched ET for the second time in a row. And you get a line from him something like “Are all your children this corrupt?” And someone answers, “This is mostly made in and about California, and they are indeed pretty goofy over there.”

        Ryan is obviously the continuing character. But, frankly, I didn’t care squat about him by the end of this. I think he’s just a bit thinly written. And that’s fine. It gave room for all the other characters.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          At this time, I doubt Clancy saw Ryan as a continuing character. He certainly made no attempt to use him in Red Storm Rising, though I’m sure he could have if he wanted to.

        • Steve Lancaster says:

          One other thought
          Ramius most likely suspected that the highest levels of Soviet navy were compromised with CIA moles. He may have written the letter to notify the US his intent to defect and not be sunk, as he almost was by Mancusco.

          In other novels Clancy discloses that there were high level moles in Soviet Administration one of them called Cardinal, the bird not the priest.

          I never got that close to the Soviet target section, but we did have quality information that could only have come from a deep placement mole.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            Well, there was Oleg Penkovsky, though he was probably before your time. We had a copy of the Penkovsky Papers, but that was over 50 years ago and I don’t remember much about it.

            • Steve Lancaster says:

              Angleton thought Penkovsky was a plant even after the KGB executed him. But by the mid 70s Angleton thought the butterflies were moles.

              The problem with counter intelligence is that it saps the soul out of you until you can not tell if it is half angels chasing half devils and no one knows which is which.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                The problem with counter intelligence is that it saps the soul out of you until you can not tell if it is half angels chasing half devils and no one knows which is which.

                Clancy handles that idea deftly in a short passage.

                The mission is over. Ryan is rushed back to the office of the head of the CIA, Judge Moore. He’s beat, dirty, and solemn. He tells Moore that there may still be men alive in the Alfa-class Soviet attack sub, V.K. Konovalov that the Red October had sent to the bottom via a purposeful collision. Moore basically says that’s the fortunes of war. Ryan notes to himself that he accepts this and thus ratchets himself one notch down on the humanity scale.

                There’s also a good passage by Clancy when Ryan and Connery are creeping through the missile section to try to corral the guy who is the security agent who was undercover as the cook and was in the middle of rigging one of the missile’s self-destruct device. (Only one missile had this for some reason. The reason they all didn’t have that was so that no enemy could disable them remotely.)

                Ryan tries to make a deal. Surely you want to live? We can work this out. But Ryan comes to understand that the man is much worse than a fanatic. He’s a committed believer in his Socialist paradise. Or words to that effect. He can’t be swayed. I’m not sure of the danger of bullets flying around in the middle of a sub. Maybe Mr. Kung could comment on whether the Titanium hull could have easily resisted them.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                Maybe Mr. Kung could comment on whether the Titanium hull could have easily resisted them.

                The pressure hulls of submarines are pretty thick so I am sure a pistol slug would not do any damage to the sub hull. In fact, I doubt a normal 7.62mm rifle slug would hurt it much. Titanium alloy is used because it is as strong or stronger than most steels at a much reduced weight.

                If I were Ryan in the missile compartment, I would be much more worried about releasing chemicals from rocket fuel, but even that would probably be unlikely as the missiles are lowered into separate tubes which are metal. Generally speaking pistol rounds, unless they are magnums, don’t go too far through steel or titanium. A quarter inch of mild steel plate would stop most. Even an eighth inch of mild steel would be pretty difficult to penetrate, I believe. If it was hardened steel, it would take a lot to get through.

                Most USA fighter/attack jets, including the F-16 and A-10, have titanium plates/tubs protecting the pilot from small arms fire. I understand that the titanium tub in the Warthog has withstood 20mm cannon fire. That is impressive.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            One other thought
            Ramius most likely suspected that the highest levels of Soviet navy were compromised with CIA moles. He may have written the letter to notify the US his intent to defect and not be sunk, as he almost was by Mancusco.

            That’s a very interesting thought. That doesn’t come up in the novel but the Americans do get word of the rogue submarine from a highly-placed informer.

            What are one’s options if one has a submarine of the size of Red October? In the movie, it’s made clear that Ramius doesn’t want the Russians to have the advantage of this. In the book, I don’t remember Ramius mentioning this at all.

            In fact, it’s not clear how he was able to so easily gather a cadre of his hand-picked and personally-trained officers to join him. He had a bit of a cult of personality going. But there is no (from what I can remember) general consensus as to why these otherwise somewhat privileged officers would be giving up what they had. For Disneyland and Mickey Mouse? I don’t think Clancy makes the proper case.

            But you would think the best you could do is scuttle the sub (or just disable the sub and leave the rest of the crew safely onboard) and escape on a small boat of some kind — after having eluded and confused one’s own nation as to one’s intent and whereabouts. I suppose that’s what makes the novel intriguing. Ramius means not only to defect but to hand the Americans their prize boomer.

            The letter that Ramius sent his admiralty was most useful in regards to Clancy setting up the big showdown in the Atlantic between the Russians and the Americans/Brits.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      The Soviet Alfa-class attack submarine

      In the second half of the 1970s, I worked in Switzerland for a metal trading company which dealt in, among other metals, titanium sponge. The USSR was one of the largest producers of that material and the company I worked for did a pretty regular business with (I believe) Razno Import which was the government owned company that sold and bought most non-ferrous metals for the Soviets. They were big buyers of tin ingot so I met some of their reps in Singapore when I lived there.

      In any case, there came a point at which my company was planning to purchase another load of Ti Sponge and Razno didn’t have any. This was a bit surprising, but not terribly unusual. What was unusual, was the fact that they didn’t have any material for forward sales and didn’t know when they would have more. There also wasn’t any material coming to the market through other traders in Europe. I don’t recall how long this state of affairs lasted, but it was longer than one would expect.

      Sometimes afterwards, word came out about the Alfa Class sub and its titanium based hull and we suspected that was the reason for the shortage of Ti sponge.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        That’s an interesting story, Mr. Kung. No doubt you’ve put the pieces together correctly.

        Titanium sponge. I’d never heard of that. What an interesting product.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Despite what people might think, business goes on between “enemies” and always has. (I have a very interesting story about some trade between the North and South Korean sides during the Korean War. Maybe I will write about it.)

          Because business always finds a way, businessmen often know more, quicker about what is going on in the world than others. This is why they were often used by intelligence agencies for information gathering.

          In the case of the Ti sponge shortage which I mentioned, I was at the bottom of the food chain being a lowly logistics (we called it traffic in those days) trainee. So I got the info rather after the traders got it. That means I got it a day or so later. But as I recall, it took a couple of years for people to put everything together.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            There was a fair amount of trade between North and South during the War of the Rebellion. Much of the South’s meat supplies for the first couple of years came from Midwestern pork. Grant’s infamous order banning “the Jews as a class” from his department in 1862 was a result of the involvement of some Jews in such trade. (His father was also involved, which made it especially embarrassing.)

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

              The Jews have been heavily involved in trade (especially international trade) for millennia. This is not surprising given their history of several diaspora.

              A number of Jewish friends and colleagues liked to compare themselves to the overseas Chinese in this regard. Both know how to succeed in business and are not stupid.

              The first two companies I worked for were owned by Jews. The company my father worked for was also owned by a Jewish family. So between my experience with Jews and Chinese, I got the best possible education in international trade.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Considering what happened to the Chinese after Sukarno’s failed attempt to take total power in 1965, those similarities go further than either would like. The successful British campaign against Communist guerrillas in Malaya included isolating the Chinese inhabitants in camps.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                The successful British campaign against Communist guerrillas in Malaya included isolating the Chinese inhabitants in camps.

                Not only that. The Brits fenced in villages to cut off the Communists (read Chinese) guerillas from their contacts and suppliers across the peninsula. Templer and the Brits in Malaya knew what they were doing.

                The first time I lived in Singapore, the “Emergency” was still officially ongoing. I knew a number of Brits who had either been born in Malaya or had lived there for years and we would talk about the “Emergency” occasionally. I remember hearing that one didn’t drive between towns and night because of the risk of ambush. One fellow I knew, carried a pistol in his glove compartment in those days. But all ended well. Malaysia is a wealthy country these days, and I wouldn’t mind living there.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        It’s interesting that the Soviet Union was so important as a supplier of titanium sponge, given that it wasn’t a major producer of the metal as I recall. My recollection is that the US had some decent supplies, and that Norway and Australia (mainly through beach sands) were also important.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          I believe, no-I know that the USSR was a significant producer of Ti metal, but I don’t believe a lot of it got out to the West in those days. They (former USSR countries) do export a fair amount these days, at least they were trying to just a few years back. I was contacted by an exporter about 5-6 years back.

          Titanium is notoriously difficult to work with so there are not a lot of people working it.

          Today, Japan and the USA produce high-quality metal which first comes out as something like Ti ingot or billet. China also produces a fair amount of Ti metal, but it is not as sought after by major consumers like aircraft producers. (A company has to go through a difficult approval process to get on an approved supplier list of companies like Boeing, Airbus, Safra, etc. It is the same for the nuclear industry)

          Some 7-8 years ago, I had some contact with a Taiwanese metal producer, but nothing came of it.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Norway and Australia (mainly through beach sands) were also important.

          If I recall correctly, rutile was preferred for producing titanium but ilmenite was mainly used in the paint and plastics industry. Australian beach sands were well known to me when I lived in Asia, but I never traded a kilo of them.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I understand that the titanium tub in the Warthog has withstood 20mm cannon fire. That is impressive.

    Did you switch to politics and were talking about Hillary? I’m confused.

    But thanks for the info on Titanium. Obviously guns are presumably much riskier in the pressurized thin-aluminum cabin of airliners and such.

    I still get a kick out of the “Danger Man” who won’t carry a gun but he usually ends up taking one off the bad guys and using it. It reminds me of Longmire who would not carry a cell phone but he would use everyone else’s. Early-on, someone outfitted Jack Ryan with a concealed weapon before he went on his mission with the Red October. Turns out, he needed it.

    Bosch is no girly-man in regard to guns either. And the reminds me that “The Hunt for Red October” wasn’t blighted with political correctness and virtue signaling. Generally speaking, this was a guy’s novel for guys. This wasn’t watered down with some stupid relationship stuff thrown in every five minutes for the ladies. I appreciated that.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      How did you know I was talking about Hillary?

      I, too, find Danger Man a little silly with his “no gun” philosophy. One definition of stupid is “to take a knife to a gun fight.”

    • Timothy Lane says:

      In one of the later books, after Ryan becomes President, a reporter is trying to get information from Ryan’s son, and is embarrassed and shamed when the son asks at one point, “Why should I trust you? You’re a reporter.”

  7. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’m about 8% into “Red Storm Rising.” I’m not blown away by it so far. The writing is rather dull although I understand there is some setup to do.

    The gist is that the Religion of Peace has taken out a major oil field and refinery all in one go. It will take 3 years to repair. The Soviet Union, even at full capacity, was enduring shortages. The deep fear is that the masses will not tolerate a sharply reduced standard of living.

    The solution? Take over the Persian Gulf where there is more than enough oil to meet Mother Russian’s needs. Just one problem: They’re pretty sure America will defend that with nukes, if necessary.

    The solution? Of course…invade Germany and split up NATO thereby somehow neutering both America’s and NATO’s will to oppose Russia in the Persian Gulf.

    This is a very odd plot line. It makes little sense to me. They think America won’t defend Western Europe with nukes if necessary? Ahh….but supposedly there is some cunning political plan by the KGB to put the Western countries at each other’s throats.

    Should have stuck with plan A. If you need oil, take it. Possession is 9/10 of the law, or something like that. Although the American coalition ousted Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, it would be an entirely different thing to oust Russia. Besides, Russia could just float a deal with America (particularly Western Europe) for discount oil prices. You telling me that Europe would go to war over this? No.

    So I’m not invested in this book at all. I may read along a bit more but I don’t really see why. The book is very highly rated so I’m going to assume it gets better.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      It’s highly rated for the main part, after the war begins. Clancy and/or Bond wanted to do a novel on the subject, so they had to come up with some sort of reason for the Warsaw Pact to invade West Germany.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Had to switch to another Lincoln Lawyer book (although these are losing their novelty). I had to pull the nuclear option on the Clancy book, at least for now. My eyes were glazing over. If you don’t find the details interesting, it’s time to move on. And this book describing the machinations from the Russian point of view was entirely boring. And now there will be machinations with NATO. I just don’t see light at the end of this tunnel.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      In one of these early novels, the Iranians started to come into the picture. They started jerking America’s string and continued to do so through a number of Clancy’s novels. This came to a head in I believe “Debt of Honor” and to an end in “Executive Orders.” There is some remnant of Iranian perfidy in “Rainbow Six,” which is worth reading.

      Another interesting novel is “The Bear and the Dragon.” In this novel Clancy gives the reader an idea of the modern equipment America had on store for future wars. We got to see this stuff in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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