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The Bear and the Dragon    by Tom Clancy order for
Bear and the Dragon
by Tom Clancy
Order:  USA  Can
Putnam, 2000 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

The Bear and the Dragon continues the adventures of Jack Ryan, hero of many of Clancy's books since The Hunt for Red October. Ryan has just been elected President of the United States without much opposition, which already seems a tad unrealistic. The novel is built around the invasion of Siberia by armies of the People's Republic of China, at some time in the near future. Their primary objective is to seize a huge gold mine and vast oilfields very recently and serendipitously discovered.

Clancy provides the usual politico/military adventurism, with a most confusing cast of characters inherited from previous novels in the series. The Americans are uniformly honest, intelligent, honourable, chaste and heroic, as opposed to the Red Chinese. Their characters (at least the leaders) are almost without exception depicted as dishonest, knavish, lecherous and unbelievably stupid.

The Russians are slotted somewhere in between, while Great Britain appears as a perky little tail for Jack Ryan to wag. All that being said, Clancy is a highly competent professional. The Bear and the Dragon, though over long, is very readable, and its final battle scenes (which take up a large part of the second half) are exciting and almost believable.

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