Janet's Reviews > The Bear and the Dragon

The Bear and the Dragon by Tom Clancy
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's review
Mar 30, 09

Read in March, 2009

The Bear and the Dragon unfolds as a complicated tapestry of military data, research, espionage, politics, and history lessons disguised as a fiction novel. There are so many story lines in this one I had to totally skip one thread throughout the first half of the book in order to follow the other half dozen designs. Master weaver Tom Clancy begins slowly, even tediously, with this tome of 1137 pages. Yet 2/3 of the way in, I am finally captivated as the plot begins to unravel under tension from the separately woven narratives.

On a more personal level, Mr. Clancy and I must step outside for a little Mano e Mama conversation. Is it Tom Clancy’s personal belief that women only contribute positively to society and to the world when they pursue successful careers outside the home? Tom intentionally burns the heart out of his novel/tapestry, stoking the fires of mommy wars, when hero Jack Ryan’s wife, (a physician at Johns Hopkins who has sacrificed National security, her children’s safety, and her husband’s wishes for the sake of her personal career ambitions…I could say more) asks a question regarding the wives of political ambassadors, embassy staffers, service folk, military men, and other dignitaries, “Don’t any of these women have a real job?” Excuse me? Impossible as it may seem to “Mrs. Ryan," some woman work at home in housekeeping, raising and educating their own children, supporting their husband and his career, maintaining a loving family home life, purchasing and preparing nutritious foods, sharing the faith, caring for others, volunteering, etc…. In another pointed slight to maternal vocations, our hero’s secret service agent is pregnant. She considers abortion for Down Syndrome. The father of the baby, a Catholic, agonizes over laws that permit a mother to decide to end the life of her baby, against the father’s wishes. The pregnant secret service agent is given no consideration for morning sickness or other challenges specific to pregnancy and she expects none, after all she is only doing her job just like any other man would. And no one seems to know what to say to her or how to support her. She is humiliated by her condition and its effects on her career. How did Tom Clancy come to so despise mothering and the vocation of motherhood? Is he pulling my apron strings, as it were, or is this what he really believes?

Another rather personal feature of the book lies with the masculine language of the characters both male and female, American, foreigner, diplomat, doc. The Tom Clancy folks are so obsessed with the prominence of certain male characteristics and behaviors that they measure the world by an anatomical yardstick. ‘Ya gotta wonder, do real military/political people actually speak like this to one another?

“For children, the unknown was something you spent almost all your time exploring and finding out. Somewhere along the line, you discovered that you’d learned all that was safe to learn, and that’s where most men stopped, except for the brave ones and the bold ones, who walked with open eyes into the unknown, and humanity remembered those few who came back alive…”

Tom Clancy, The Bear and the Dragon

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Melinda (new)

Melinda If asked personally, I imagine Clancy would agree with you that women can contribute positively by refusing to pursue careers outside the home. His own mother probably did. However thinking that personally and stating it even in a work of fiction perhaps is something he is not prepared to do. Maybe he is not brave enough to stand up against even this lie of the world? I think perhaps he is so caught up in the man machismo writing that he neglects to think carefully about women as women, instead of women as society lies about them (that they can only be fulfilled in a career outside of the home). I always enjoyed the adventure side of his writing, but took with a huge grain of salt the character of Mrs. Dr. Ryan, whom I actually disliked very much!

Sad that he has accepted the lie of the world issue about women and equality, then portrays the women as weak just because they are not men. I have some things to say about that very issue in the book I'm reading now about "Women and the Word of God".

message 2: by Paul (new)

Paul Dwayne The most disturbing issue with this book is the abortion of a child just because he/she has Down's Syndrome! Oh yea that's right they aren't worth keeping alive! Sad damn world we live in!

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