Passage: Tom Clancy

Last Updated Oct 6, 2013 12:05 PM EDT

(CBS News) It happened this week . . . the passing of a Cold Warrior who fought his battles on the printed page.

Tom Clancy died Tuesday of an undisclosed illness in his hometown of Baltimore.

Tom Clancy's first novel, "The Hunt for Red October," was published in 1984, by a military press that had never before published fiction.
Naval Institute Press

An insurance agent who wrote on the side, Clancy sold his first novel, the Cold War thriller "The Hunt For Red October," to the small Naval Institute Press for just $5,000.

Published in 1984, "Red October"'s gripping plot and mastery of technical detail made it a huge best-seller . . . praised by President Ronald Reagan as "the perfect yarn."

It made for a pretty good movie, too, with Sean Connery playing a Soviet captain trying to defect with his submarine to the West, and Alec Baldwin as American hero Jack Ryan:

Stars pay tribute to late author Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy went on to write many another action novel -- seventeen #1 bestsellers in all, several of which also went on to become blockbuster films.

In an interview with Charlie Rose back in 1996, Tom Clancy described his seemingly fool-proof method of composition:

"The book really does acquire a life of its own, and the characters acquire a life of their own. And I write the way I do because I think it makes me more spontaneous."

Turns out we haven't read the last of Tom Clancy just yet.

A new thriller, "Command Authority," co-authored with Mark Greaney, is due out in December.

Author Tom Clancy was 66.

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