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The 22 Best Tom Clancy Quotes on Life, War and Government

Yesterday, it was announced that legendary espionage author Tom Clancy passed away from an unreported illness.

At 66 years old, Clancy was about to celebrate the release of his most recent novel, “Command Authority”, due out Dec 3rd. Since debuting in 1984 with “The Hunt for Red October”, Clancy has enjoyed unrivaled commercial and critical success with his highly technical form of military thrillers.

At present, more than 100 million copies of his novels are in print, and an astounding 17 have reached No. 1 on the New York Times’s best-seller list. Below we celebrate some of his most quotable moments  from his seminal novel onwards.

The 22 Best Tom Clancy Quotes on Life, War and Government


1) “Listen, I’m a politician which means I’m a cheat and a liar, and when I’m not kissing babies I’m stealing their lollipops. But it also means I keep my options open.”

– The Hunt for Red October (1984)


2) “I like writing. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had at anything. You can build your own little world and — like a kid with his toy trains, — except instead of trains I have tanks and ships and airplanes and things… I get to make them do all the things I want them to do, and if I don’t like the way things work out, I start again.”

– Interview with Don Swaim (1986)


3) “Victory comes only to those prepared to make it, and take it.”

– Patriot Games (1987)


4) “There’s two kinds of people in the world, the ones who need to be told and the ones who figure it out all by themselves.”

– Without Remorse (1993)


5) “Man is a creature of hope and invention, both of which believe the idea that things cannot be changed.”

– Quoted in Writers (1995)


6) “Nothing is as real as a dream. The world can change around you, but your dream will not. Your life may change, but your dream doesn’t have to. Responsibilities need not erase it. Duties need not obscure it. Your spouse and children need not get in its way, because the dream is within you. No one can take your dream away.”

– Quoted in Writers (1995)


7) “No matter what you or anyone else does, there will be someone who says that there’s something bad about it. Whenever somebody comes up with a good idea, there’s somebody else who has never had a good idea in his life who stands up and says, “Oh, you can’t do that…”


8) “Democracy is spreading across the world. Democracy is only possible with easy access to information and good communications. And technology is a way of facilitating communications.”


9) “I’d rather talk to people who do things than complain about other people who do things. I say they’re idiots.”


10) “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.”


11) “Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people.”


12) “Look, technology is another word for tool. There was a time when nails were high-tech. There was a time when people had to be told how to use a telephone. We got past that. Technology is just a tool. People use tools to improve their lives.”


13) “Our tools keep getting better, and as a result of that, our lives keep getting better.”


14) “People live longer today than they ever have. They live happier lives, they have more knowledge, they have more information. All this is the result of communications technology and the tools with which man has equipped himself. How is any of that bad?”

7-14 from  “Vonnegut and Clancy on Technology” by David H. Freedman & Sarah Schafer (1995)


tom clancy

image via: Justin Hee

15) “Back then “cruel and unusual punishment” meant the rack and burning at the stake — both of those things that had been used in pre-Revolutionary America — but in more recent rulings it has been taken to mean the absence of cable television and denial of sex-change operations, or just overcrowding in the prisons.”
– Executive Orders (1996)


16) “The difference between reality and fiction? Fiction has to make sense.

– Quotable Quotes (1997)


17) “The difference between me and you is that I do good fiction.”

– Speech at the National Press Club (1999)


18) “That’s the ultimate pornography… There’s nothing more pornographic than glorifying war.”

– CNN interview (1999)


19) “People, I am actually fairly smart. Why has this not occurred to anyone? The information is all out there, if you go looking for it, and the classified stuff just comes from analyzing the unclassified stuff and connecting the dots…”

– Clancy Speaks Again, Briefly (2000)


20) “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)


21) “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 interview (2003)


22) “Life is about learning; when you stop learning, you die.”

– The Appraiser’s Handbook : A Guide for Doctors (2007)


Have any Tom Clancy quotes you love that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

header image via: cdrummbks

Written by Quotezine Team

Michelle Quinteros is a pop culture and lifestyle writer with a fancy degree from McMaster University. When she’s not writing for Quotezine, she can be found excessively quoting The Simpsons or binge watching Netflix.

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