3.0 to 3.5 stars This was the first Tom Clancy book that I ever read and it turned out to be my least favorite On the good side, I loved the introduction of Mr Clark who is my favorite character of the Clancy novels However, the novel seemed to drag in places and I just found myself wanting the plot to move along Overall, it was still a god read and by other author s standards would have been a 4 star effort at least However, I hold Clancy to a higher standard based on his later efforts so he has to live with 3 to 3.5 stars for this one. Executive Summary I found this one a bit uneven The start was pretty slow, but the pace picked up as it went on Good, but not great.Audiobook Michael Prichard did a decent job narrating He spoke clearly with good inflection and volume, but didn t really add anything to the book Audio a good option, but definitely not a must listen Full Review I mostly read SFF, so it s always nice to take a break with another genre I hadn t exactly planned to listen to this one, but I had put a hold in for this awhile back because the wait list was pretty long The timing on my hold worked out pretty well to fit this into my schedule.When I was younger I probably read thrillers than any other genre, but I never read and Tom Clancy apart from Net Force and in writing this review I discovered he didn t even write that I had watched all the Jack Ryan movies however I m still working my way slowly through the entire series in publication order, and this one was up next It certainly doesn t have the name recognition of several of the other Jack Ryan books, but it was a fairly solid entry I found it slow in the early going, and wasn t really getting into it There were a few different subplots, including a random Afghani mujahideen whose name we never learn, and is simply referred to as the Archer I had no idea how that was supposed to tie in with everything else going on.As someone who was born in the 80 s, I didn t learn about our involvement with helping the mujahideen, until much later I must admit it seemed a bit strange to me reading this after we ve been fighting in Afghanistan ourselves for so many years That aside, it took quite some time for the relevance of Archer s storyline to fit into the larger picture.Jack Ryan is once again at the center of the story, but one could argue not the most important character That may be the titular character the Cardinal himself, or possibly one of the other players in Russia That doesn t mean he isn t a key player, but there is a lot of time spent away from Jack and his actions in this one.This book certainly had a lot espionage than the previous books I liked how Mr Clancy presented both the American and Soviet sides At times I felt he was a bit too eager to paint the Americans as lagging behind the Soviets This isn t from any sense of superiority as an American, but simply that it felt like he was doing it try to ratchet up the stakes a bit too much In the end though, I thought it was a pretty well balanced, with people on both sides of the conflict who simply wished to avoid further escalation of conflict between the US and the Soviet Union Both sides made mistakes, and both sides took advantage of their adversaries mistakes.There wasn t a whole lot of action in this one Most of the tension comes from the various spy plots Don t get me wrong, there are still a few gunfights, explosions and a car chase, but I felt like they aren t as prevalent as other Jack Ryan stories.I thought the end of the book really picked up the pacing, likely because the early part spent so much time moving the pieces into place and setting up the stakes of the book.I enjoyed the book, but I didn t love it I m glad my library seems to have the whole series in digital audio now, so I can simply borrow these books rather than buying any of them I suspect most of them will be in the fun, but not spectacular category that I d place this book. Following the disappointing Patriot Games, Clancy redeemed himself in my eyes with a spy thriller with classical ingredients, i.e the extrication of a Soviet double agent by the Americans It s been a long while since I ve read any Clancy, so caveat lector is in place here But I would say that should I re read any of the books, it is this one and The Sum of All Fears.
As an author, Clancy brings a workman like approach to The Cardinal of the Kremlin There is little in the way of fanciful prose, or endearing characters and the story is choppy, however this is far from unusual for him He relies a good deal on the technical aspects of cutting edge weaponry and good old fashioned spy vs spy action to keep readers turning the page.Yes, Jack Ryan is back, but even in his second book he is starting to wear thin and thankfully plays only a small, yet important role But there is a new hero in town We are introduced to one of my favorite characters ever and far from endearing it is the shadowy, Mr Clark As the ultimate anti James Bond spy, he makes the book worth it all by himself.Obviously, I recommend this to all Clancy fans If you haven t read him yet, start with The Hunt for Red October and then Red Storm Rising. One of the best stories by one of my favorite authors, which I first read in 1992 Whenever one of Tom Clancy s novels deals with any subject I know a little something about, it always strikes me as being well written and true to life This novel deals with spies and counter intelligence, subjects about which I know very little however, based upon what Clancy has written about on other topics, I am left with the strong impression that this story rings true to life, as well It is based upon the premise that the American CIA has had a deep cover agent operating in the Soviet Union s Ministry of Defense for thirty years The spy, code named Cardinal, has recently come under suspicion by the KGB, but his high position in the ministry, as well as his status as a war hero, makes him as near to untouchable as it is possible to be in the U.S.S.R As the KGB agent works to develop his evidence into the airtight case that he needs in order to arrest and expose Cardinal, the CIA learns of the investigation, and it becomes a race against time as the Americans develop a plan to rescue Cardinal and get him out before the KGB can arrest him, and very likely execute him This story is a sequel to The Hunt for Red October and features Jack Ryan, the CIA analyst who spearheaded the Red October mission It is Clancy at his very best The short short version of what became my review A gripping spy thriller that brings back all that Cold War Nostalgia but Tom Clancy has obviously never met a lesbian before in his life Perhaps it goes without saying, but Tom Clancy s work is not high literature He will never rank up there with Ernest Hemingway 1 or David Foster Wallace or Angela Carter He ll be published long after his death as an historical literary study, a snapshot of late stage Cold War Paranoia but those are elective seminars in the History annex, and not part of the upper division English rubric That is totally fine though this is why we bother cracking the covers on a Tom Clancy novel for the thrill ride that is his particular flavor of military political techno thriller His schtick is to razzle dazzle his readers 2 with the nitty gritty details of this or that weapon real or hypothetical and to go on tangents that involve world history as told through the lens of the Military Industrial complex and or to speculate on then contemporary socio political machinations as told through the lens of world history as told through the lens of the Military Industrial complex We re not in it for the metaphors, we re in it for the bombs And the lasers.My first exposure to Clancy was in the late 80s or early 90s, starting withRed Storm Risingand working my way through his books At some point between ages 10 and 14, I read The Cardinal of the Kremlin 3 Having re read RSR back in 2006, I thought it might be worth re reading another Tom Clancy book A re read 20 years in the making, I thought to myself I had only two memories of this book, one vague 4 and one specific 5 , and thought that, if nothing else, at least it would be like reading a book for the first time.So I borrowed my Dad s paperback and queued it up for a January read 6 My vague recollection footnote 4, vide infra turned out to be pretty close so at least that much was memorable, but I d forgotten some of the other depth Though calling it depth is maybe too generous What Clancy does with this book is go bonkers with the espionage and counterintelligence business He goes out of his way to include every facet the analysis and speculation, the field operations, agents, double agents, counter agents, double counter agents, spy satellites, submarines, extractions, kidnapping, disguises, botched missions, and the kind of at the highest levels manifestations of what can only be boiled down to extortion It s all in there.And but I had completely forgotten about the whole sub plot with the Archer and all the Afghan mujahideen stuff The spy junk that makes up 70 80% of the book is great but it would have been a completely two dimensional arc It helps to be reminded that the conflicts between the super powers did not take place in a vacuum, and what was it that Archimedes said about long enough levers But there was also a huge let down here The big Act Two climax that bridges us into those closing chapters had a bizarre and almost nonsensical setup view spoiler Clancy presents us with Bea Taussig who works in the administrative staff at the Tea Clipper project and is a lesbian who has fallen in love with Candace Long, one of the scientists on the project who happens to be engaged to the brilliant lead scientist on the project, Alan Gregory On the surface, the whole secret unrequited love bit is not all together awful or implausible What s awful about it is that it seemed hastily tacked on to give her a motivation for her treason only it doesn t explain it all There is a bunch of narration in there about how Bea dislikes Alan Gregory, and how her friend Candace can do better but it s all framed pretty hetero normatively as though Bea were simply a prissy spoiled brat who looked down on the geek , and that same narration is lacking any sort of outward disdain for men in a general sense 7 But even if an outward disdain for men in a general sense were a good marker for us that Bea were a lesbian and I m saying that it s not then we still have the problem of motivation because why would she sell state military secrets to the Soviets to a totalitarian regime even one in the middle of liberalizing itself that had a history and an active policy of sending queers to labor camps Was it then just the money If she were motivated simply by the money, I could get by on that I could give Clancy a pass Now clearly Bea is not motivated by ideology because there is no evidence in the text for that, and because we re assuming that she is motivated first by the money and maybe just maybe she is motivated by the excitement that comes with the danger of spying there s some evidence in the text for that, too , but we still have that long last mile to bring us up to that final mark where she assists in Gregory s kidnapping Suddenly we go from spoiled materialistic chick with a mis guided sense of adventure to lovesick to the point of delusional lesbian accomplice kidnapper passing microfilm with state secrets in the dressing room is one thing, but assisting in a KGB sponsored kidnapping is quite another Especially since the follow on was for her to start awkwardly groping Candace with Federal agents right downstairs not 24 hours after Gregory is reported missing And even if you were still on board after that, you have to then accept that she would completely fold break down and spill everything to the Feds about her crimes Right the woman who was in it for the thrill, the woman who didn t bat an eyelash when the KGB proposed an on American soil kidnapping, was going to hastily and predatorily move in on her distraught friend, and then and thenjust spill everything hide spoiler Classic Clancy Perhaps his best work Gripping, insightful, exciting He was truly a master storyteller, the likes of which we probably won t see again in the political military espionage world The first appearance by John Clark, the first appearance of Sergey Golovko, a few cameos from The Hunt for Red October and a stunning ending. *PDF ⇫ The Cardinal of the Kremlin ☞ In A Rolling Sea Off The Coast Of South America, A Target Disappears In A Puff Of Green Light In The Soviet Hills Of Dushanbe Near The Afghanistan Border, An Otherworldly Array Of Pillars And Domes Rises Into The Night To The Two Greatest Nations On Earth, No Contest Is Urgent Than The Race To Build The First Star Wars Missile Defense System, And No One Knows That Than The Two Men Charged With Assessing The Soviets Capabilities Colonel Mikhail Filitov Of The Soviet Union, An Old Line Warrior Distrusted By The Army S New Inner Circle Of Technocrats, And CIA Analyst Jack Ryan, Hero Of The Red October AffairEach Must Use All His Craft To Arrive At The Truth, But Filitov Gets There First And That S When All Hell Breaks Loose Because Filitov, Code Named Cardinal, Is America S Highest Agent In The Kremlin, And He Is About To Be Betrayed To The KGB His Rescue Could Spell The Difference Between Peace And War, And It Is Up To Jack Ryan To Accomplish It If He Can As, In A Breathtaking Sequence Of Hunter And Hunted, Filitov S Life, And Ryan S And That Of The World Itself Literally Hang In The Balance The Cardinal of the Kremlin The Cardinal of the Kremlin by Tom Clancy recounts a fictional story of political intrigue and espionage between the United States of America and the United Soviet Socialist Republic U.S.S.R during the Cold War era The book is 547 pages long, and was published by G P Putnam s Sons in 1988 The plot revolves around the two nation s development of a program akin to the Strategic Defense Initiative originally proposed by Ronald Reagan, which was devoted to serve as an aegis to the country in the event of nuclear war The main characters are Jack Ryan, a United States Central Intelligence Agency CIA counter espionage data analyst, and Colonel Mikhail Semyonovich Filitov also known as the Cardinal, a highly placed spy in the Soviet Defense Ministry The Cardinal of the Kremlin is predominantly in the point of view of Jack Ryan, however it does change to encompass Colonel Filitov, the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnasti KGB Chairman Gerasimov, and various lower stationed officials Tom Clancy utilizes characterization, point of view, and setting to present the audience with the full story in a convoluted plot around the clandestine art known as espionage Tom Clancy breaks through the traditional secret agent archetype in order to present the audience with memorable and relatable characters The main character, Jack Ryan, is not a clandestine, silver tongued agent, but rather a wealthy ex marine who spends most of his time analyzing data at a desk at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia Likewise, Colonel Misha Filitov is not a dapper young American sympathizer, instead he is an aged Soviet war hero that fulfills a role akin to secretary to the defense minister With the plethora of spy novels available, Clancy s characterization of these key figures sets his novel apart As with any spy novel, The Cardinal of the Kremlin is full of unforeseen plot twists, many of them uncontrollable, and many of them facilitated by these characters themselves Clancy s deep and personal characterization allows the reader to understand why characters made the choices that they did The way of espionage is to know without allowing one s enemies to know , therefore it would not be logical if one character with a single allegiance knows all of the facts Tom Clancy expertly utilizes point of view to present readers with the full story in a realistic fashion Usually, Jack Ryan or a lesser functionary is used to convey the United States plans and knowledge, while Misha Filitov or Chairman Gerasimov fulfills a similar role for the U.S.S.R As is true in reality none of these characters, no matter rank, have the full picture To remedy this, Clancy uses perspective changes to give the reader the entire story while still maintaining realism Utilizing point of view in this fashion allows for dramatic irony, however given the context it is usually fairly somber The Cardinal of the Kremlin is set predominantly in the Soviet Union during the Cold War However, Clancy also utilizes various locations in the United States and the Afghan Pakistani border Due to the sparsely populated nature of the U.S.S.R., the upper echelons of military and civilian society inhabit Moscow, the capital This means that most of the state decisions are made in Moscow, therefore the majority of politics and intrigue occur there At this time the Soviet Union is fighting a war against the United States backed Muhajideen in Afghanistan and Pakistan By incorporating this location Clancy is able to add action to the novel, without which he would lose many of his reader s attention While much of the political machinations take place in Moscow, the United States, particularly Washington D.C and New Mexico are also settings These places are where the United States agents and functionaries meet and voice their thoughts and plans Whereas doing so in Moscow would be committing the unthinkable Throughout the novel, Clancy maintains a sense of realism which is continued in the setting as all of the locations were important during the Cold War Tom Clancy masterfully manipulates characterization, point of view, and setting to present a realistic espionage novel that shatters typical archetypes Rather than the common furtive, clandestine, spies who typically inhabit spy novels, Clancy s characters are each unique and resemble an everyday person one may meet Clancy also makes successful use of point of view in order to present the audience with the full story while still making the book believable His choice of setting serves both to hold the reader s attention while not detracting from the other facets of the story The Cardinal of the Kremlin is an engaging espionage novel that breaks the usual boundaries while still maintaining the sense of realism that is eminent in all of his publications. I had been meaning to read Cardinal of the Kremlin now for several years Published in 1988, it is one of the older Jack Ryan technothrillers, one that I had bypassed when I started reading Clancy s works, first Red Storm Rising and then beginning the Jack Ryan saga with Clear and Present Danger I had with the exception of Without Remorse and the newly published Red Rabbit read all of the other subsequent books, and those books that I did not read I had seen the movie version namely The Hunt For Red October and Patriot Games I had resisted reading this one, or perhaps I should say I hadn t placed a high priority on this one, as they never filmed it, and it was a book very much steeped in Cold War intrigue, much of the novel taking place in the Soviet Union and involving two staples of the last years of the Cold War Star Wars or the Strategic Defense Initiative or to be precise, something equivalent to it in the novel, a high tech antiballistic missile or ABM system and the Soviet war in Afghanistan I was worried it would be antiquated, or that it would depict a Soviet Union that didn t really exist, as the collapse of the USSR in the late 1980s early 1990s showed that how little the West really understood what the reality of the Soviet Union actually was.I decided to read the book recently, partially to say I had read all of the Jack Ryan novels, partially because I wanted to know of Ryan s history events in this novel were referenced several times in Clancy s later works , and partially because I had decided to treat it as a period piece and I have in the past enjoyed good tales of Cold War intrigue I figured it would show an interesting, early Ryan, quite a bit different from the powerful and experienced one who eventually becomes President of the United States later on in the Ryanverse series.I must say I enjoyed it It wasn t my favorite of the Ryan series but it certainly held my interest and I found it a fast read It was actually a rather enlightened novel, as it showed the Russians as real people some were good, some were bad The Soviets depicted were for the most part fairly well rounded individuals, who just like Americans simply wanted or less the same thing out of life basically success and happiness Some were not good people but even they weren t depicted as moustache twirling, cackling Cold War villains, though to be sure there were bad guys in the piece While it is not surprising that the title character of the book the Cardinal, Colonel Mikhail Filitov, a highly placed spy in the Soviet military is shown as a good person, it was somewhat surprising that many of those opposed to his actions were not shown as evil or vile but simply as often good people doing their job In essence, Clancy showed that while the Soviet regime was bad, its people weren t necessarily so His view of governments versus people particularly with regards to the Russians holds true in his later works as well, showing a good deal of consistency in his writing Perhaps I didn t give Clancy enough credit in this regard, I don t know In any event I found myself occasionally rooting for characters in the novel who were actually opposed to Filitov, Ryan, and the other protagonists.The novel itself was as some have said of a straightforward spy novel than some of the other volumes in the Jack Ryan series, with many classic espionage scenes taking place in Moscow and involving the KGB Five major plotlines are followed in the novel, with four of these plotlines tightly interwoven the Soviet Union is pursuing a largely ground based ABM system Bright Star , the United States is also pursuing one named Tea Clipper these plots also involved those in one program trying to spy on the other nation s efforts , Colonel Filitov is spying for the Americans and related to that plotline, there are Russians trying to uncover him , and Jack Ryan and others in the American government are conducting arms reduction negotiations in Moscow ultimately the latter storyline becomes subservient to the others The fifth plotline revolves around an Afghan mudjaheddin named the Archer and his actions in Afghanistan against Soviet forces and doesn t tie in hardly at all at first though it does in the end or less I think.Action wise the book was middle of the road if anything fairly light until the end when several plotlines end in some violence particularly the Archer plot The storyline with Filitov ended with some surprise for me, though it was an ending hinted at in the later Ryan books I had read.