(Reuters) - Best-selling U.S. author Tom Clancy, whose thrillers about spies and submarines fascinated readers with their high-stakes plots and enthralled military experts with their precise detail, has died at 66, his publisher said on Wednesday.
Clancy, who debuted in 1984 with Cold War novel "The Hunt for Red October" and went on to publish a total of 25 fiction and non-fiction books including "Patriot Games," died on Tuesday in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, publisher Penguin Group said.
"I'm deeply saddened by Tom's passing," said David Shanks, a Penguin executive who had worked with Clancy from the start of his writing career through the upcoming "Command Authority," which is due out in December.
"He was a consummate author, creating the modern-day thriller, and was one of the most visionary storytellers of our time. I will miss him dearly and he will be missed by tens of millions of readers worldwide," he added.
Clancy died in Johns Hopkins Hospital in his native Baltimore, Maryland, according to U.S. media reports. A hospital spokeswoman was not immediately able to confirm those reports. A cause of death was not immediately known.
Clancy's books, which also included "The Sum of All Fears" and "Rainbow Six," tracked the evolution of U.S. security concerns. "Red October" dealt with a rogue naval commander from the Soviet Union on a nuclear-armed submarine, while later books moved on to deal with terrorism and friction between the United States and China.
They were not only best-sellers but inspired Hollywood blockbuster films and a series of video games, published by Ubisoft Entertainment SA.
His most recent book, "Threat Vector" debuted at the top of the Publishers Weekly bestseller list in December 2012. His publisher is a unit of Britain's Pearson PLC.
In a 1992 interview with The Baltimore Sun, he attributed much of his success to being "lucky," saying that he had a normal middle-class American upbringing.
"I was a little nerdy but a completely normal kid," Clancy told the paper. "Mom and Dad loved each other. It was like 'Leave it to Beaver."
(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Diane Craft)
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