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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Clancy on Deck
"This is 4.5 acres of sovereign U.S. territory."
— Rear Admiral Michael Mullen, Commander, George Washington Battle Group
Admiral Mullen's quote, which introduces one of Tom Clancy's chapters, captures in a short, quick phrase the essence of the aircraft carrier, both its form and its function. Its 4.5-acre flight deck (the equivalent of more than four football fields) overwhelms the imagination and impresses upon the reader what a massive war machine a carrier is. And by asserting the "sovereignty" of the carrier, it calls to mind the absolute resolve of the U.S. military mission. A carrier takes no crap.
To help those interested cope with the scale of a carrier's operation, Carrier takes the reader on a detailed tour of the ship and goes in great depth into the role of the carrier in the armed forces.
The standard awe-inspiring information is all there (a carrier is as tall as a 24-story building, has a combined ship and air crew of more than 6,000, and can carry and launch 80 aircraft), but Clancy's tour is aimed at the fan who wants much, much greater depth and much, much more jargon. The 13-page glossary at the back of the book (from "A-12" to "XO," with more arcane and colloquial entries along the way, such as "GBU-29/30/31/32 JDAM" and "pucker factor") is an essential guide for the novice, though even with that help, CARRIER can be a dense, technical read: "Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) 97-3 — Run over three weeks in late August and early September of 1997, JTFEX 97-3 was a 'final exam' for the combinedGWCVBG/CVW/ARG/MEU (SOC) team."
But whereas a casual fan may lose interest, a military buff will revel. Clancy spends almost 70 pages detailing the aircraft you find aboard a carrier and their armaments. He includes a fascinating 50-page chapter on "Building the Boats," a process that makes the Hoover Dam's construction seem like an afternoon of Lego play. Here, mercifully, Clancy opts more for a detail of the process than a rundown of the engineering specs, a flood of numbers that would surely drown all but the most qualified technician.
And, of course, because this is Tom Clancy, the text flows smoothly and quickly. Clancy's interview with Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jay Johnson reads like the novelist's research notes for one of his thrillers. The final chapter is an informed but fictionalized projection of what a carrier's job will be in 2016. This chapter is one of Clancy's thrillers.