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Literature / Dead or Alive

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The Emir's days are numbered.

Dead or Alive is a political thriller novel by Tom Clancy and co-authored by Grant Blackwood, featuring Jack Ryan. It was published on December 7, 2010.

It unites characters from Clancy’s fictional world, including Jack Ryan (the former CIA analyst and president), his son, Jack Ryan, Jr., his cousins Dominic and Brian Caruso and former clandestine operatives John Clark and Ding Chavez of the novel Rainbow Six. It follows the characters on a mission to capture a middle eastern terrorist, Saif Rahman Yasin (known as "The Emir"), a character heavily based on Osama bin Laden, and responsible for the 9/11 attacks in the universe's storyline.

Unrelated to the Fighting Game Dead or Alive or the English pop group Dead or Alive.


This book contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Andrea, Jack Ryan Sr's favorite Secret Servicewoman.
  • Artistic License – Law: The Campus is illegal and doing illegal things but "blank pardons" provided by Jack Ryan while in office allow them to be cleared for any and all crimes they committed.
  • Badass Army: The US Rangers, hampered only by Washington.
  • Badass Bookworm: Both Jack Ryan and his son.
  • Big Bad: The Emir is responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Citra and Purnoma Salim.
  • Canada, Eh?: The Emir sneaks into the US through Canada, and the Campus agents who get a tip on an al-Quaeda courier coming into the country pick him up and start tailing him in Toronto.
  • Captain Ersatz: The Emir is Osama Bin Ladin in everything but name.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Used twice.
  • Elite Army: The USA is being slowly dismantled from this.
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  • Fate Worse than Death: The interrogation of The Emir goes beyond garden-variety torture to a simulated heart attack using succinylcholine. Properly administered, it can be done over and over and over again although once is sufficient to break the Emir.
  • Generation Xerox: Jack Ryan Junior is a Wall Street executive turned Intelligence Analyst turned Badass. Just like Dear Old Dad.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Subverted by the Emir.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Campus is one, though it doesn't work for the government.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: A couple.
  • Hookers and Blow: How the Emir spends his time in Las Vegas.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The NSA and CIA don't cooperate very well.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Subverted, surprisingly, given the premise. Everyone says torture is a dumb way to find information. Until the very end.
  • Kick the Dog: The Emir murders a prostitute on the possibility she might have recognized him.
  • Murder, Inc.: The Campus but one for good. Subverted by the fact their corporation exists only to fund their assassinations for good.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The entirety of Edward Kealty's administration it seems.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Much like in the previous book, The Campus some times uses tools and methods that are considered by some to be "evil" against those who would engage in terrorism.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Ryan and Kealty are contrasted at every turn. Ryan is President Good while Kealty is President Too-Dumb-To-Live.
  • Perfect Poison: The succinylcholine poison.
  • Professional Killer: The Campus' entire staff it seems.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The premise is an illegal murder organization for a non-sitting President is killing terrorists across the globe. However, they were given "signed pardons" so it's all legal, somehow.
  • Spy Fiction: The Campus pretends to be of the Stale Beer variety but is entirely a Martini flavored fantasy.
  • Spy School: The Campus has a small one.
  • Strawman Political:
    • Ed Kealty is a horrible caricature of a liberal President.
    • The Emir's lawyer also was a horrible caricature - from her name "Cochrane", to her delusional attraction to the terrorist mastermind.
  • Take That!: Against national health care.
  • Torture Always Works: Subverted repeatedly in the dialogue until the final act of the book where it suddenly worked.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: A terrorist group kills all but two people who worked with them while they were setting up for their attacks. The two exceptions are the prostitute hired to provide sex for the group's leader and the woman who was extracting the information from the Yucca Flats employee.