21 Best Tom Clancy Quotes

The bestselling author of Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, who died Tuesday at age 66, said some wise things—and some not so wise.

1. “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” —Larry King Live, 2000, and included in Quotable Quotes.

2. “The only way to do all the things you’d like to do is to read.”

3. “You learn to write the same way you learn to play golf. You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. A lot of people think something mystical happens to you, that maybe the muse kisses you on the ear. But writing isn’t divinely inspired—it’s hard work.” —AMC blog, 2007.

4. “The U.S. Military is us. There is no truer representation of a country than the people that it sends into the field to fight for it. The people who wear our uniform and carry our rifles into combat are our kids, and our job is to support them, because they’re protecting us.” —Penguin Books, 2010.

5. “Remember, for every shot you fire, someone, somewhere, is making money.”

6. “Courage is being the only one who knows how terrified you are.” ―Red Rabbit, 2002.

7. “Two questions form the foundation of all novels: “What if?” and “What next?” (A third question, “What now?”, is one the author asks himself every 10 minutes or so; but it’s more a cry than a question.) Every novel begins with the speculative question, What if “X” happened? That’s how you start.”

8. “Nothing is as real as a dream. The world can change around you, but your dream will not. Responsibilities need not erase it. Duties need not obscure it. Because the dream is within you, no one can take it away.” —Writers, 1995.

9. “What do I know about sex? I’m a married man.”

10. “I’ve made up stuff that’s turned out to be real, that’s the spooky part.” —The New York Times, July 27, 1986.

11. “Victory comes only to those prepared to make it, and take it.” —Patriot Games, 1987.

12. “I’ve been telling people for 12 years that if you want to get a nuclear device into the United States, just bring it through the port of Miami disguised as cocaine.” —Kudlow & Cramer, 2003.

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13. “The difference between me and you is that I do good fiction.” —speech to reporters at the National Press Club, May 18, 1999.

14. “What underclass? I mean you know, what underclass? Do you know any of them? Do they have automobiles? Most of them probably do. Do most of them have television sets? Do most of them have telephones? Well, if they can afford automobiles, they can afford computers. And since they have television sets, they already have access to communications technology. And since they have telephones, they can talk to one another. Wherein are they deprived?” —Inc., December 12, 1995.

16. “Fighting wars is not so much about killing people as it is about finding things out. The more you know, the more likely you are to win a battle.”

17. “There’s nothing more pornographic than glorifying war.” —CNN interview, 1999.

18. “Wars are begun by frightened men. They fear war, but more than that, they fear what will happen if they don't start one—or take equivalent action, I suppose.” —Red Rabbit, 2002.

19. “Show me an elitist, and I’ll show you a loser.” —Inc., December 12, 1995.

20. “Fifteen years ago, there was this country called the Soviet Union that had over 10,000 nuclear warheads pointed at us ... They’re not there anymore. That’s a good thing. And when people talk about how the world is more dangerous now than it was because we had these terrorists running around, my reply is, you know, a terrorist is like a buzzing mosquito.” —Larry King Live, 2000.

21. “What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else.” —Kudlow & Cramer, 2003.