At the end of the prologue to Clear and Present Danger Clancy writes, "And so began something that had not quite begun and would not soon end, with many people in many places moving off in directions and on missions which they all mistakenly thought they understood. That was just as well. The future was too fearful for contemplation, and beyond the expected, illusory finish lines were things fated by the decisions made this morning-- and, once decided, best unseen." In Clear and Present Danger nothing is as clear as it seems.
The president, unsatisfied with the success of his "war on drugs", decides that he wants some immediate success. But after John Clark's covert strike team is deployed to Colombia for Operation Showboat, the drug lords strike back taking several civilian casualties. The chief executive's approval ratings plummet. He orders Ritter to terminate their unofficial plan and leave no traces. Jack Ryan, who has just been named CIA deputy director of intelligence is enraged when he discovers that has been left out of the loop for Colombian operations. Several of America's most highly trained soldiers are stranded in an unfinished mission that, according to all records, never existed. Ryan decides to get the men out.
Ultimately, Clear and Present Danger is about moral conscience, law and politics, with Jack Ryan and CIA agent John Clark as its dual heroes. Ryan relentlessly pursues what he knows is right and legal, even if it means confronting the president of the United States. Clark is the perfect soldier, but a man who ultimately values his men higher than the orders of any careless commander.
Along with the usual, stunning array of military hardware and the latest techno-gadgets, Clear and Present Danger further develops the relationships and characters that Clancy fans have grown to love: Admiral James Greer passes the CIA torch to his pupil, Ryan; Mr Clark and Chavez meet for the first time; and other recurring characters, like Robert Ritter and "the President", add continuity to Clancy's believable, alternate reality. This is Clancy at his best. --Patrick O'Kelley