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Author Tom Clancy, master of the modern-day thriller, dead at 66

(CNN) — Spy thriller writer Tom Clancy, whose best-selling books became blockbuster films, has died, his publisher said Wednesday. He was 66.

Clancy’s publisher, the Penguin Group, said the author died in Baltimore on Tuesday. The written statement did not indicate the cause of death.

Clancy’s 1984 novel “The Hunt for Red October” propelled him to fame, fortune and status as a favorite storyteller of the American military. Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin brought the Cold War drama to life in the big screen in 1990.

“Spending time with Tom prior to shooting was the best part of that whole experience for me,” Baldwin said Wednesday. “Tom was smart, a great story teller and a real gentleman.”

Harrison Ford took the big screen role of CIA analyst Jack Ryan in “Patriot Games and “Clear and Present Danger.” Ben Affleck was cast as Ryan for “The Sum of All Fears.”

“I’m deeply saddened by Tom’s passing,” said Penguin executive David Shanks, who worked with Clancy on each of his novels, quoted in the company’s statement. “He was a consummate author, creating the modern-day thriller, and was one of the most visionary storytellers of our time. I will miss him dearly and he will be missed by tens of millions of readers worldwide.”

“Command Authority,” his last book, is due to be published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in December, the company said. Putnam is an imprint of the Penguin Group.

“It was an honor to know Tom Clancy and to work on his fantastic books,” said Ivan Held, president and publisher of G.P. Putnam’s Sons. “He was ahead of the news curve and sometimes frighteningly prescient. To publish a Tom Clancy book was a thrill every time. He will be missed by everyone at Putnam and Berkley, and by his fans all over the world.”

A Baltimore-born former insurance agent, Clancy was known for writing meticulous thrillers focusing on political intrigue and military tactics and technology.

Seventeen of his 28 books appeared on the New York Times best-sellers list, according to his website. Many of them reached the No. 1 spot.

His writings also provided the inspiration for the “Rainbow Six,” “Ghost Recon” and “Splinter Cell,” video game series.

His writing gained him a loyal following within the armed forces in the United States and abroad, giving him inside access that frequently informed the plots of his books. But in a 2003 CNN interview, Clancy said he was always careful not to reveal classified information or sensitive details of how the elite troops he often wrote about operated.

“I’ll never decide for commercial reasons to put something in that endangers our national security. You just can’t do that,” he said in a 2003 CNN interview. “There was one thing, I discussed with a friend of mine in the Royal Navy. I told him a story I knew, and he said, ‘Well, Tom, you may never repeat that, as long as you live.’ And I haven’t.”

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