A Hunt for Patriots

For all of Tom Clancy’s obvious labor to ground his Jack Ryan novels in fact, there is something perfectly ideal about them. The Hunt for Red October (1984) and Patriot Games (1987) are products of “Morning in America.” So, for a first-time reader born on the cusp of 1995 and who became politically aware on September 11, 2001, these novels are pictures of a society that seems to have looked at America with complete confidence—works of such patriotism that intellectuals today would greet them as farce (as intellectuals did when they were first published). They are also terrific thrillers.

The Apotheosis of Democracy

The religious life of ancient Rome grew and changed in texture and detail as immigrants flowed into the city and her legions returned from the frontiers. Each arrival brought with them new cults and mysteries and myriad sacred objects to fill her temples. But Rome was magnanimous; she could contain multitudes and contradiction so long as the rites of public life were fulfilled. Beneath the cult of her glory all other cults could contest for the souls of her people.