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Author Tom Clancy dies

(Reuters) - Best-selling U.S. author Tom Clancy, who thrilled readers with vivid descriptions of soldiers and spies in novels including "The Hunt for Red October" and "Patriot Games," has died at 66, his publisher said on Wednesday.

Clancy, whose books sold more than 100 million copies, died on Tuesday in his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, Penguin 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.

U.S. media reports said Clancy died at Johns Hopkins Hospital, though a hospital spokeswoman was unable to confirm those reports. The cause of death was not immediately disclosed.

Clancy's works closely tracked Americans' security fears, moving from Cold War face-offs to terrorist attacks and both fascinated readers with their high-stakes plots and enthralled military experts with their precise details.

The books also inspired Hollywood blockbuster films including "Clear and Present Danger," starring Harrison Ford, and a series of video games, published by Ubisoft Entertainment SA.

Clancy's career also benefited from fans within Washington power circles. His 1984 debut "Red October," the account of a rogue naval commanded on a nuclear-armed Soviet submarine won praise from then-president Ronald Reagan, who declared it a good "yarn."

In total, Clancy published 25 fiction and non-fiction books, which also included "The Sum of All Fears" and "Rainbow Six." Later books moved on from the Cold War to deal with terrorism and friction between the United States and China.