Patriot Games

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Patriot Games
First edition
Author Tom Clancy
Country United States
Language English
Series Jack Ryan universe
Genre Techno-thriller
Publisher Putnam
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback)
Pages 540 pp
ISBN 0-399-13241-4
OCLC 15316611
813/.54 19
LC Class PS3553.L245 P38 1987
Preceded by Without Remorse
Followed by Red Rabbit

Patriot Games (1987) is a novel by Tom Clancy. It is chronologically the first book (predating the events in The Hunt for Red October) focusing on CIA analyst Jack Ryan, the main character in many of Clancy's novels. It is the indirect sequel to Without Remorse.


In London, a kidnapping is attempted on the Mall. Jack Ryan manages to disrupt the attempt by force, saving the Prince and Princess of Wales, along with their infant firstborn son, from the attackers, these attackers are members of an ultra-radical Irish terrorist group splintered from the Provisional Irish Republican Army. Ideologically, their group subscribes to Maoism, and they receive support from Libya, they are known as the "Ulster Liberation Army," or ULA. Ryan incapacitates one of the ULA members, Sean Patrick Miller, whose father was killed in an incident with the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1979, and whose girlfriend had been killed by a stray bullet from British Army forces. Miller is captured and sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering the royal driver, who was exposed to gunfire due to a fault in the vehicle's bulletproof glass. However, Miller is freed by his ULA compatriots while being transported to prison, and allies in the Mukhabarat el-Jamahiriya arrange for the party to be smuggled by sea to their training camp in the Libyan Desert. The ULA then launches an operation in America that is aimed at eliminating Ryan and his family, paying for logistical assistance from ULA affiliates in an African-American domestic terrorist organization; in the novel the organization is only referred to as "the Movement," but the fictional portrayal could have been inspired in part by the 1976-87 activities of the El Rukn gang under Jeff Fort. The attack on Ryan and his family is in part an act of revenge, but primarily it is done because the ULA seeks to reduce American support for the rival Provisional Irish Republican Army, contriving for the PIRA to receive the blame. The assassin sent to kill Ryan is intercepted before he manages to complete his task. However, Ryan's pregnant wife Cathy and daughter Sally are injured when Sean Miller causes their car to crash on a freeway, the two casualties are flown by helicopter to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

After the attack on his family, Jack accepts an offer from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to start working as an analyst at the agency's headquarters. Later, the Prince and Princess of Wales come to visit Ryan at his house in Maryland, but this gives the ULA another opportunity to strike. ULA operatives make use of the fact that one of their key allies in "the Movement" is a Bell Atlantic telephone maintenance technician, they pose as fellow repairmen to make a sneak attack on Ryan and his family, and once again target the Royal Family for kidnapping. Although several guards, including Secret Service personnel, are killed, this second attack also ultimately fails, after a firefight and chase, Ryan, his friend Robby Jackson, and the Prince manage to kill or capture the terrorists. They receive assistance from local police, U.S. Marines, and sailors from the U.S. Naval Academy, managing to apprehend or kill all the terrorists. The FBI Hostage Rescue Team is sent by helicopter, but by the time they arrive, the emergency is nearly resolved, although the ultimate fate of the terrorists is not stated in Patriot Games, the next novel reveals that all who survived the attack were condemned to death and executed by gas chamber. Ryan arrives at Bethesda after the final arrest to be with Cathy for the birth of their son, who will be godparented by Robby Jackson and his wife, as well as the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Film adaptation[edit]

The novel was adapted as a feature film in 1992, it stars Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan and Sean Bean as Sean Miller. During the filming, an accident occurred during the final scene—the struggle on the boat which ends in the ocean. Ford inadvertently struck Bean above the left eyebrow with a boat hook, although Bean recovered completely, the scar still remains.