The Hunt for Red October

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The Hunt for Red October is a 1984 novel by Tom Clancy. The story follows the intertwined adventures of Soviet submarine captain Marko Aleksandrovich Ramius and CIA analyst Jack Ryan.

The novel was originally published by the U.S. Naval Institute Press - the first fictional work they ever published, and still their most successful.

The book is inspired by the failed mutiny on board the Storozhevoy by Valery Sablin in 1975.



Marko Alexandrovich Ramius, a Lithuanian who has risen to high levels of trust in the Soviet Navy, intends to defect to the United States with his officers and the experimental nuclear submarine Red October, a Typhoon-class submarine equipped with a revolutionary stealth propulsion system. The propulsion system is described in the novel as an arrangement of pumpjets - whereas in the film version, it is described as a magnetohydrodynamic system. The propulsion system is nicknamed the "Caterpillar Drive", and makes sonar detection extremely difficult. The result, immediately apparent to Jack Ryan and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is a strategic weapon platform that is capable of sneaking its way into American home waters and launching nuclear missiles with little or no warning.

It is also not lost upon Ramius, whose defection is spurred by several other factors as well. In particular he is deeply affected by the death of his wife, Natalia, due to a doctor's incompetence. Moreover, because the doctor responsible was the son of a Politburo member, the doctor could not be punished. Natalia's untimely death, combined with Ramius' long-standing dissatisfaction with the callousness of the Soviet establishment towards its people and also Ramius' fear of the destabilizing effect the Red October will have on world affairs, ultimately exhausts Ramius' tolerance for the failings of the Soviet system.

In the beginning of the novel, Ramius kills Political Officer Ivan Putin to ensure that he will not interfere with the defection. In a letter to Admiral Yuri Padorin (who was Natalia's uncle, and who Marko therefore refers to as Uncle Yuri), Ramius brazenly states that he is going to defect to the United States, and that he is not joking. This has the same purpose and effect as Hernán Cortés' burning of his ships upon arrival in the new world: it destroys the possibility of retreat and leaves no option for his men but to press on and win or die.

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