Debt of Honor - the sixth installment of the Jack Ryan universe - starts out very methodically and even slow, as some may say - setting up for a potentially explosive ending.
One of Japan's most influential industrialists, Razio Yamata - who holds tremendous authority in the commercial powers of the Far East - has devised a plan to cripple the American economy - and eventually, which eventually will bring down their military might. His motivation? To pay off a "debt of honor" to his parents - whom he feels were killed by America in World War II.
The first opportunity to get his plan rolling comes along when one Tennessee family is killed in a car crash - due to a the faulty gas tank on on this Japanese car. An ambitious U.S. congressman uses this event to write new trade agreement. He is riding his hopes on the fear that many Americans have of a foreign economic presence in the U.S.. This will hurt - most notably - Japan. Instead, it provides Yamata with the opportunity he needs. As the strikes begin to hit the U.S. economy, it becomes obvious that someone is intentionally launching an "invasion" against the United States. Now the new president's National Security Advisor, Jack Ryan steps up to plate.
In the midst of this economic maneuvering, there is the usual Clancy "war games" going on in the background that lead to an extensive and militaristic conclusion to the story.
We see Clancy adapts to this new setting nicely after years or researching - and writing about the Cold War. As times have changed, Clancy has progressed. In Debt of Honor, he teaches us - not only about the newest technology in the military and the happenings in the White House, but also about currency trading, Asian business etiquette, and the economics of the United States. He even shows that aggressive nations can rise from anywhere, and the U.S. government is warned about spreading itself to thin - something that has been seen in the Iraq conflict in the real world. Clancy deals very delicately with the Asian issue sensitivity - unlike Michael Crichton in Rising Sun.
For those expecting a novel that moves like Patriot Games or Clear and Present Danger, you will be disappointed. Debt of Honor is written in a very methodical way, giving us details and background information at every turn. This is - after all - a book that is slightly under 1,000 pages (paperback). Not for the faint hearted at all.
I was somewhat disappointed in the ending - where I believe things were wrapped up all too quickly. Particularly the conflict that started to arise with India. However, this will be addressed in the following book, Executive Orders.
Those who are interested in Air Force aircraft and Navy ships will appreciate the "war scenario" we read about towards the end. There is not much ground movement here.
So, while not heavy on story - but more focused on political, economic and military intrigue, the Readers of Debt of Honor have been warned. Personally, I do not believe the characters are developed or display the same kind of passion as in Clancy's earlier works.
If it was not for the major surprise ending - and I am not talking about the ending of the created war, but about the other ending in the last couple of pages - which I will not reveal here - I would not have had all that much desire to pick up the next Jack Ryan book, Executive Orders.