Tom Clancy, novelist, would have scripted it better. Tom Clancy, patriot, loved it just the way it was.
"If I'd written this, the coup would have been run a lot better," the author of international thrillers said yesterday. "But the good news is that this, I think, is the last serious attempt by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union to establish control over the country, and it failed with ignominy. The Communist Party is dead. Communism is a dead dog."
Mr. Clancy, who lives in Calvert County and whose just-published book "The Sum of All Fears" immediately topped the best-seller lists, said the failed coup proves communism "never was a good idea." And its latest upholders -- the hard-liners behind the coup -- turned out to be "boobs."
"He who lives by the dumb," Mr. Clancy chortled, "dies by the dumb."
Mr. Clancy has become an increasingly official and reliably blunt spokesman on all things military, and his books such as "The Hunt for Red October" and "Red Storm Rising" have been particularly popular in such circles. He was featured prominently yesterday morning on the "Today" show, which cut to him several times for his opinions and predictions as the coup began to unravel.
Yet he says he's no warmonger and welcomes what he believes to be an upcoming era of peace.
"The world today is in the best shape it's ever been. For the first time in recorded history, there are no superpower conflicts," he said. "By the end of the century, war may become obsolete. Who says there has to be war?"
The death of all war, and especially the death of the Cold War, doesn't mean the death of one of its most successful chroniclers. Mr. Clancy dismisses the notion that he is a mere spy thriller writer whose fortunes depend on continued U.S.-Soviet conflict. And, in fact, his latest novel proves that -- it's about Middle East nuclear terrorists.
"People say I write techno-thrillers and Cold War novels. I say I write books," Mr. Clancy said. "As long as there are bad guys around, I can write books. And last time I looked, there are still a few bad guys out there."