Recommended Reads: ‘Op-Center’

“A powerful profile of America’s defense, intelligence, and crisis-management technology; Tom Clancy’s Op-Center is the creation of Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik-inspiring this, and other gripping novels.” *from the back cover of Op-Center books by Tom Clancy.*

If you like action, mystery, espionage, spying, or war stories, you should definitely read these books. Even if you don’t, you may want to consider them. I was first introduced to Tom Clancy when I watched the movie “The Hunt for Red October” based on Clancy’s book of the same name. Then I watched “Clear and Present Danger”, which is also based on a Clancy novel. (They’re both great movies, by the way and I recommend them both. The first stars Alec Baldwin and the second, Harrison Ford, both as the same character: Jack Ryan.)

After watching the movies I got the novel The Hunt for Red October from the library. It’s a very good book. It was Clancy’s first novel. It’s about a Russian submarine whose captain and crew defect during the Cold War, and how certain people work to bring about, and others to prevent, WWIII. It can get tedious at times when extensive description of subs or warfare is given, but overall it’s an interesting and entertaining novel.

After reading Red October, I tried reading another Clancy novel, of which he has several. However, I found his other novels to be boring, tedious and far too long for me (most are 800-1000 pages). Perhaps that’s just my personal taste, but Red October is the best of his novels, in my opinion. That was until one day my opinion changed, when my mom got me Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Divide & Conquer from a library book sale (which are the best, by the way. I love library book sales!)

I picked it up right away in the hopes that it’d be interesting. I counted on two factors not knowing the book: it wasn’t written by Clancy directly (Jeff Rovin was the writer), and Steve Pieczenik helped create it. I was most pleasantly surprised and hooked by what I read. I read all the rest of that day (a Saturday) and the next day to finish it. Divide & Conquer is actually #7 in the Op-Center series, so when I found that out I began a hunt for the rest of the series via second-hand book stores and shops and also the library.

I bought #8 soon after, Op-Center: Line of Control, and got #6, Op-Center: State of Siege, at the library. I also managed to find #1, Op-Center, as well. All have proved to be just as well written, just as exciting, just as gripping.

Op-Center is the NCMC (National Crisis Management Center) of the U.S. It was formed by the President, a little-known team of experts led by Paul Hood, the director of Op-Center and the former mayor of Los Angeles; Deputy Director and STRIKER Commander Mike Rodgers, a two-star general (and one of my favorite characters); Chief of Intelligence Bob Herbert, a man who lost his wife and legs in a terrorist bombing; Matt Stoll, a computer genius and techy. An FBI liaison, press-secretary, psychologist and several others also serve on the Op-Center team.

STRIKER is Op-Center’s 12-man team of highly trained soldiers from various U.S. military branches. They are commanded by Gen. Rodgers, and are sent in by Op-Center to situations that require combat, human intelligence, etc….

A common theme in the books is Op-Center’s resolve and commitment to solve critical situations internationally, working together with the FBI, CIA, DoJ, DoD, oftentimes at odds with the White House, Congress and/or factions within the above mentioned government agencies.

A sub-plot in the books is the relationships and family life of the main characters, in particular Paul Hood, who struggles to maintain a good relationship with his wife, as he works often 24 hours at Op-Center.

One thing I’d like mention is that they are very real-world. The books are very real. They deal with situations and threats that are happening today, or could easily happen, the characters’ personalities, reactions, thought-processes, relationships, etc….are just like real people, and the endings are very, very realistic. Overall I think this makes the books more interesting to read.

These are brief synopsis’* of the 4 books I’ve read so far:

#1 Op-Center: Op-Center deals with many anti-unification terrorists in Korea trying to provoke a new war with North Korea.

#6 Op-Center: State of Siege: Rogue soldiers seize the UN complex in New York and demand a hefty ransom for the release of their diplomatic hostages (including Hood’s daughter, Harleigh). Now it’s personal, and Hood has returned to Op-Center to save his daughter.

#7 Op-Center: Divide & Conquer: Op-Center seeks the help of their Russian counterpart in tracking the legendary assassin, The Harpooner. Meanwhile, Paul Hood is called in when it appears the President might be undergoing a mental breakdown.

#8 Op-Center: Line of Control: The Striker Team, cut off and without support, has to fend for their survival on the line of demarcation between India and Pakistan.

Anyway, I hope you guys found this useful. I highly recommend the books, although I’d say you’d have to be 16 or 17 to read them. They can be bloody at times, suspenseful and there are some adult-themes in the novels.

Let me know if you read them, have read them, and what you think of them! 🙂

*All synopsis’ are taken from Wikipedia page:

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